Understanding Public Transport URDU)

July 18, 2017

In Pakistan it seems as if Public transport is an expensive bus systems on stilts—platformed roads that divide the city.

We learn here from Mohamed Rizwan, a transport engineer involved in designing transport systems in the UAE, that there is more than one mode of mobility in the city.

He tells how they think of transport in the UAE. And we all know how advanced UAE is in terms of thinking of transport.

Learn from this how important it is to think of mobility for all in a cohesive city rather than just cars and buses as our planners do.

I wonder why no one treats this topic as subject of research in Pakistan. It is well worth writing some papers on. 

Listen and learn and write some papers on this subject.  Don’t forget to cite Soch Bichar

Please subscribe to Soch BIchar if you like it. Tell you friends about it. That is the only way to grow a public discussion. And we need a wider conversation on these important subjects.


Configuring the Energy system (ENGLISH)

July 12, 2017

Energy system is plagued with leakages while the government continues to build more and bigger power plants. Even though the price of oil has gone down by about $100 from its peak in 2007-8, the circular debt continues to plague us while load-shedding remains intact.

Last episode I talked about how the power system needs to be reconfigured. 

Here I go into detail because I thought some things need explaining.

We have a haemorrhaging patient and we are relying on more and more blood transfusions and not fixing the haemorrhage.

My contention here is we need to operate on the system and fix.

Listen to it and see if you agree. And remember without discussion ideas die.



Energy Shortages–the causes (ENGLISH)

July 10, 2017

Australian radio interviewed me on the power situation in Pakistan after reading my article on Project Syndicate


I think the discussion would be interesting to all who want to understand the root causes of the energy problem and how to get out of it.

Those who insist it is a supply problem—the solution to which is the setting up of ever more power supply projects including ones that will further contaminate our environment are wrong. 

While supply will always increase, it must be balanced by measures for

  1. Managing efficiency of existing supply and distribution
  2. Ensuring that demand efficiency by eliminating wasteful use of energy

It is for this reason that I have always maintained energy shortfalls that Pakistan is facing is first a governance issue which must be addressed immediately well before we rapidly expand supply.

Sadly, for the last 10 years 3 governments have not understood this or were incapable of addressing the governance issue. It is no wonder that we have the circular debt with us again at the level of another $5 billion.

Listen and discuss. It is only public discussion that will wake up our leadership.



Rethinking education (ENGLISH)

July 3, 2017

Everybody is for education. All politicians, all thinkers and all donors swear by education being the most important investment that needs to be made. Billions of dollars have been invested in education with limited positive results, if any.

My generation’s major success was destroying the limited education system that we inherited from a colonial regime. I came across some young people who have been writing on education taking a fresh provocative approach. 

Here we have a debate on education among these young people:

Nadia Naviwalla,

Shahrukh Wani,

Safyan Aftab, and

Salman Ahmed

We explored several aspects of education. The debate is fascinating and very educational in itself. There are a few recording glitches because of my failures. So please ignore them and look at the substance of the conversation.

Let me again invite all to join in the conversation on Soch Bichar. This is a community project to grow a debate in Pakistan. So join in. 


Finance and economy (URDU)

June 29, 2017

Today our guest is Nasim Beg a well-known corporate personality in Pakistan. He is now a leading figure in Arif Habib securities a large holding company stretching from finance to cement.


We discuss his career, the state of financial markets in Pakistan as well as economic policy. It is a wide-ranging discussion from which you will learn much about our markets as well as the state of our policy.


Congratulations! Pakistan Won (URDU)

June 20, 2017

Like the rest of Pakistan, we wanted to celerbrate the victory in cricket at the Oval. 

The covnersation led to us wondering abou the sports industry and its role in the economy. And then to analyzing why we dont have sucn an industry and should we? 

We also outline some research topics that students and researchers should take up.  


Listen enjoy. Spread the word on Soch Bichar. Cite it when you can. 


How land is so central to the economy of Pakistan (URDU)

June 20, 2017

In my book "looking Back" I had noted that land is the principle means of rent-seeking in Pakistan. It seems that land-grab has defined much in this country. 

Here Anjum and I discuss this important subject.

See what you think.


It is the constitution, stupid! (URDU)

June 15, 2017

The civil-military divide is a subject of continuous discussion. Democracy doesn’t seem to take root as politicians seek unaccountable power and fail to develop any respect for institutions. Debate in the media and our academia is limited to wishing for both the army and politicians to behave.

Few look at the constitution that is supposed to frame democracy. Pakistan’s constitution was hurriedly framed using the Government of India Act of 1935 with little regard for constitutional principles and local context. It seems that without amending this constitution to develop adequate checks and balances, better election system for improved representation, more detail on institutions and how they are run, as well as a well-defined local government system, democracy and good government will elude us.

Here we take this important subject up with Bakhtawar Soofi a young lawyer who writes in papers and has freshly studied this subject.

The constitution is too important a subject to be left to lawyers alone has been emphasized by several major economic thinkers. The constitution provides the backdrop to economic activity. And many economists such as Hayek, Buchanan and Mueller have written about it.

The constitution is a subject on which many disciplines should be brought to bear. So, we invite all of you to devote some attention to debating and researching the constitution.

The current debate that excludes the constitution is barren. We need to move towards understanding the constitutions and incentives it sets for politicians, institutions and the players in the economy. 


Policy and budgets (URDU)

June 12, 2017

We discuss policy and Budgets with Shahid Mahmood Head of research in Prime Institute.

He has worked in government and with donors and is actively engaged in research.  

His insights into the budget process and policy in Pakistan are worth listening to if you are interested in economic policy.

He asks

  • why should we have budgets if we don’t intend to follow them?
  • How do we do policy?
  • What is the role of the budget and policies undelying it. 

Please listen and enjoy.

His book recommendation at the end is excellent.

Please listen to Soch Bichar, debate it , cite it and spread it to your friends. 


Development happens in cities (URDU)

June 9, 2017

Popular discourse holds that rural development is imperative for accelerating growth. USAID too seems to hold this belief and has put most of its billions that were dedicated for growth towards the development of agriculture. Yet the results of all this effort to develop agriculture have been disappointing.

Anjum and I assert that development is essentially a city phenomenon. And that the failure of Pakistan development strategy is the inability of the economics profession to understand cities and their role in development.

So listen and please increase your research and debate in this area.

In doing so do read the Framework of economic growth and some of our work on cities that you can find on the web.

Remember to cite what you read and listen. So cite Soch Bichar if you find it useful.