Burki for putting Kashmir on the back burner
25 September 2003
Our Staff Reporter
LAHORE: Former Vice President World Bank Shahid Javaid Burki said on Saturday that the Kashmir issue could be put on the back burner for a certain period to strengthen bilateral trade ties between Pakistan and India. 'Rather, I would repeat the words of a columnist that we must have a soft border between us,' he said. Talking to The Nation, he said even the modern Indian commentators have started commenting that the image of India has been distorted a lot due to extreme position on the issue. On a query, he said that he has a lot of respect for President General Pervez Musharraf as his policy has started promoting the acceptability of Pakistan in the outside world. He further lauded the best combination of financial managers of the country including Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz, Minister for Privatisation Dr Abdul Hafeez, Federal Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Ishrat Husain and Chairman SECP Tariq Hasan and termed them a world class team, which was far ahead of the financial gurus in India. 'They all could be called as one of the cleanest in the world and this is right time that the outcome of their efforts should start trickling down,' he said. He further admitted that poverty was a big issue in Pakistan. 'About 50 million people are living below the poverty line at present and there is an increase of 10 per cent in it every year with another increase of 7.5 per cent in unemployment,' he said. He said the poverty issue could be tackled with by adopting growth in economy, increase in government spending and through economic investment in labour intensive areas, which is called povertyfriendly growth. He also supported the construction of Kalabagh Dam and pointed out that mismanagement in world class irrigation system of the country was resulting into loss of 50 per cent of water. He stressed for a combination of public private partnership and introduction of corporate farming in the country. Regarding the challenges of WTO regime, Burki said there's no use of such an industry, if it could not prepare itself for the challenges despite all protections expanded over the past 40 years. However, he said, the businessmen met him in recent past were of the view that they were waiting anxiously for the WTO regime to get the benefit of free trade regime.