Dr Ishrat Husain calls for empowerment of local govts

Sunday, Nov 27, 2022

at launch of book on his life

By our correspondent

When economist and former State Bank of Pakistan governor Dr Ishrat Husain was asked what his first three priorities would be if he was given the chance to become the prime minister of Pakistan, his immediate response was the blanket rejection to the offer.

When he was asked again, he said he would start empowering the local government system in the country, stating that where the communities were stronger and provided basic facilities, the level of dissatisfaction decreased from society.

Despite all the issues due to then Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), he said people of Karachi remembered the mayoral tenure of Mustafa Kamal and Jaamat-e-Islami’s Niamatullah Khan.

“Institutions need to be given resources. Make them autonomous and hold them accountable,” he stressed as he spoke at the launch of ‘Unravelling Gordian Knots: The Works and Worlds of Dr. Ishrat Husain’ at the Institute of Business Management (IoBM) on Saturday.

During his welcome address, IoBM President Talib Karim said it was a great pleasure for the varsity to launch the book. He appreciated Dr Husain’s professional acumen through which he restructured Pakistan’s central bank.

Former senator and information minister Javed Jabbar commented that the book reflected how Dr Husain became a top-class world banker and civil service expert. “Husain has demonstrated qualities of comprehension and articulation,” he said, adding that everyone must read the book to know the impact he had made in Pakistan and abroad.

Maheen Usmani moderated the panel session on the occasion. Dr Mehtab Karim, adviser to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics on behalf of the United Nations, said Dr Husain’s major contribution was in Pakistan’s education sector. “People should not only read this book but implement Husain’s strategies and policies that he implemented in the organisations that he led,” he said.

During the panel discussion, Dr Husain stressed the need for restructuring the institutions of Pakistan that were in decay. The citizens of Pakistan, he said, would be satisfied if they were given public services, due to which we needed to strengthen our local body system.

He also asked the youth to acquire higher studies from abroad to reshape their communities in Pakistan. He advised that everyone should play a part in one's respective fields to make Pakistan a prosperous country.

The book’s author, Sibtain Naqvi, said that the history of nations was built by institutions and institutional reforms were initiated by people like Dr Husain.

“It is important to be aware of the contributions of Dr Husain so the youth may know about change management, sustainability, and transformational leadership, among other concepts needed to become successful,” he said.

Speaking on the downfall of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), he said that initially the national airline selected the right people on the basis of merit and competence and there was no favouritism and nepotism. Those people, he said, were given full term and goals to achieve and were held accountable if they failed to achieve those goals.

Beyond 1990s, he said, loyalty became the benchmark for the appointments in the PIA.

When he was asked to head the Institute of Business Administration, the author said, Dr Husain demanded no interference in his job from the government and then MQM.

He added that the economist did not chase the job but the job chased him.