By Engr. Mansoor A. Malik
The recent address of the American President in the Indian Parliament has heralded the arrival of the Indian-Centric Economic Century in Asia much to the chagrin of its immediate neighbors. The third largest economy of Asia after China and Japan is being pumped up by Corporate America to become a World Economic Power. The colonialism of the first half of the 20th century and the neo-colonialism of the later half of the last century is being gradually replaced by Econialism (Economic Colonialism) for half of the humanity living in Asia.
This address of President Obama in Delhi reminds one that was made by our first elected Prime Minister, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1974 at the Lahore Islamic Summit. The last Arab-Israeli War of 1973 had just finished and three visionaries, Shah Faisal of Saudi-Arabia, Mr. Anwar Ali the Chief Economic Adviser to the King of Saudi-Arabia and Mr. Bhutto had to-gather coined the New World Economic Order to safe-guard the interests of the resource rich Muslim World. In the presence of all the Islamic luminaries at that time, Mr. Bhutto spoke about the strategic implications of managing one’s own Natural Resources and protecting it for our coming generations. Within a few years, all these three visionaries were assassinated and their message was buried deep in the sand dunes of time till the Turkish Prime Minister, Prof. Erbakan of the Islamic Rephah Party took the gauntlet again after a lapse of 20 years to form the Developing Eight (D-8) Muslim Countries Group to create an Economic Bloc.
Six of these D-8 countries are in Asia (Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Malaysia and Indonesia) and have a combined economy of nearly 2 trillion US Dollars. Some of these countries are also members of ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization) along with the independent Central Asian States. Many of these countries are situated near the littoral states of the Persian Gulf which have formed their own Economic Entity under the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). Members of D-8, ECO and GCC constitute a major part of the Muslim World in Asia with extremely rich Natural Resources, some of which is yet to be fully explored. In this Asian Century, these countries are likely to play a dominant role provided they have their own independent leaders who have their hearts and minds beating with that of their people.
The Asian market of 3 billion people with several Developing Economies poses a very competitive economic environment. The business models of big players like India and Japan with the blessings of Corporate America are pitted against the Chinese State business model of Indigenous Development leading to self reliant countries. In the former case the individual companies and their share-holders make progress, whereas in the latter, the State becomes richer and passes on the benefits to its people on a mutual sharing basis. The Capitalists trickle down effect is failing even in USA where the un-employed numbers are steadily growing and requires state stimulus to keep them floating. In India itself, the poverty line is growing along with the ever growing middle-class. Japanese society has sustained so far the economic down turn due to their well established human and social value system.
The resource rich Muslim countries in Asia have to adopt more innovative solutions to benefit their large masses and keep them satisfied rather than let outsiders take away their wealth which lies deeply buried in mother earth. Their experience thus far in inviting out-side powers has not been very fruitful for the satisfaction of their large populations. This dis-contentment may be a de-stabilizing factor in the future. The multi-lateral alignments available under the D-8, ECO and GCC with an International Islamic Financial & Economic System in place could address some of the burning issues of resource exploitation. The 21st century economic pendulum could be shifting from the oil-rich Middle-Eastern Arab countries to the land locked but Energy and Mineral rich Central Asian Muslim countries with their natural outlet on the coastal lines of Pakistan.
The North-South dialogue under the G-20 group of countries which is presently being held in South Korea may be more beneficial to the Developed Countries rather then the developing ones. The G-77 group of Developing Countries is no more effective for safe-guarding the interests of smaller nations. India, which was once a champion of the G-77 as well as the Non-Aligned countries and an effective spokesman of the South-South collaboration has had a somersault or two and has now joined the Elite Group from the Northern Hemisphere. The big void created by India in joining the league of Haves and leaving the Have-nots, both of its own country and that of its region at the mercy of others according to the most respected Indian intellectual Ms. Arundhati Roy could be filled by China in this Asian Century. The D-6 (D-8 minus 2 African countries), GCC and ECO countries along with China could emerge as a new group in Asia looking at the long term interests of these Asian countries with a huge potential in their God gifted Natural Resources.
The 20th century Gun Boat Diplomacy adopted by the British Empire to subdue the Monarchs, Sheikhs and Dictators in the Middle-East in order to lay their hands on their oil rich resources cannot be repeated again in the 21st century due to the ever growing phenomena of Democratization in Asia. This Asian century is not only going to provide economic well being to its large population centers but also freedom and political rights for its people. This would in all likelihood create acute awareness against all external powers bent upon exploiting them and depriving them of the benefits accrued from their own natural resources. The business models of Corporate America operating through their partners in Asia would be competing with the Chinese model of State interventions for progressive growth of the deprived peoples of Asia. The tables could be tilted in favour of China if the Natural Resource Rich Asian Muslim countries can put their weight behind it and have a different experience in this partnership as compared to that of the 20th century exploitation of them by the Western World.
Mansoor Malik, is Member Board of Advisors, Opinion Maker. In brief, he has been Director General with over 33 year of experience in planning, establishing and managing national level, strategic, high-tech organizations. Director General, Marketing & Industrial Relations Organization (MIRO). Commandant, College of Aeronautical Engineering, Risalpur.
Senior Engineering Manager, PAF Project where he was responsible for the smooth induction of F-16 Aircraft Weapons System in the PAF and making them fully operational.
His experience is very versatile in different fields of technology and education. He is consultant to number of organizations and the Universities of Pakistan.