ISLAMABAD: Admiring the economic policies of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, eminent political economist Professor Dr Akbar S. Zaidi said Bhutto’s party was totally different from the current PPP.
“The PPP needs to understand what policies are to be adopted, and to implement its manifesto,” Dr Zaidi said during a lecture on the “Economic policies of Z.A. Bhutto” organised by Shaheed Bhutto Foundation here on Thursday.
Dr Zaidi lambasted the critics of Mr Bhutto’s economic policies and said those who termed it an era of economic decline were part of the minority faction that benefited from the economic policies of exploitation.
“If we had a golden era of economic development in Ayub’s era, how did the 22 families emerged and all the capital holdings accumulated in a few hands?” He said the former West Pakistan benefited by getting cheap raw materials from East Pakistan which was also the key market for products made in West Pakistan.
Dr Zaidi said Bhutto’s policies helped the development of the middle class and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which created demands for the products made in factories.
Dr Zaidi lauded Dr Mubashar Hassan, the finance minister in Mr Bhutto’s cabinet, who ensured that banks after getting nationalised gave loans to the middle class, small farmers and supported the development of SMEs.
Dr Zaidi also praised the labour and agricultural reforms initiated during Mr Bhutto’s era. However, he blamed the subsequent regimes, mainly Gen Zia’s rule, for the decline in productivity of state-owned entities.
“Later, all these state-owned institutions were handed over to the civil and military bureaucracy who exploited the potentials of these units,” he added.
Regarding the current state of economy, he said the world was again shifting sides and there were strong voices all over against the system of free market economy.
“I suggest that the PPP and progressive parties should devise a homegrown agenda of a mixed economy with nationalised institutions and options for private sector to grow,” he said in response to a question by MNA Dr Nafisa Shah of the PPP.
Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2016