The Root Cause behind Unemployment of Electrical Engineers in Pakistan

k5428275

Engineers, especially Electrical Engineers, are facing a job crisis in Pakistan. They normally have above average intelligence levels and are high scorers in High School; a fact, in my opinion, which in itself has played a major role in the unemployment issue at hand.

About a decade ago a Dr. Atta ur Rehman, Ex-Federal Minister and Ex-Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC), made a decision to follow India and send a humongous number of Graduates for PhD abroad. The decision was approved by the then one man show/regime of President General Musharraf; following which: hundreds of graduates were sent abroad without proper planning.

More or less anyone and everyone who applied got a scholarship from the Pakistani government. There were no checks and balances as to which field of study they were applying for. No one analyzed which field of study was required and would give benefit to Pakistan in future. The result was total chaos and young people went abroad rudderless; deciding specialization areas purely on their whims. Most successful in getting scholarships were people who had excelled in academics (which was the only criterion set by the HEC) and had the will to keep on studying. Primarily, these were Electrical Engineers, who excel far above all; followed by Computer Scientists.

Planners never bothered to make sure that the people who went for PhDs abroad were either evenly divided among all fields of study or were at least concentrated in an area in which we could see Pakistan excel above all other countries and develop trademark excellence. In fact it wouldn’t be wrong to say that there was a complete void of technical planning while investing such huge amount of resources.

The result was an enormous amount of PhDs coming back to Pakistan, in an attempt to fulfill their bonds (set by HEC). Most of them belonged to Electrical Engineering and its sister field Computer Sciences. Even among those who were related to these fields came back with a specialization in Telecommunications; why, because Telecom was the buzz word when they left Pakistan. The result was a huge investment in the Telecom sector with no need of research and development, as Pakistan could only afford service-providers and system-integrators here. Vendors never did any manufacturing in this country because of the volatile/hostile terrorism-filled environment and huge power shortage issues that all governments miserably failed to address. It needs to be mentioned here that Pakistan still suffers from a huge void in PhDs in fields like Power Engineering and Electrical Machine Design. Hence this huge investment failed to fulfill even the holistic requirements of Electrical Engineering let alone other departments of Engineering or for that matter: Sciences, Arts, Humanities, Medical Sciences, Defense Studies, International Relations, and Business Studies etc.

These highly qualified PhDs were forced to work in Universities due to a lack of Research and Development centers in Pakistan. When investors realized that education was becoming an industry, everyone started opening up Institutes with Electrical Engineering as their primary field of study owing to ease of faculty availability and a very small investment required to start the program and an abundance of naive parents who wanted their children to be Engineers. Even universities with a primary focus on learning of Languages opened up departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. With no proper check on the quality and utility of graduates produced, these Institutes became the makers of jobless electrical engineers and computer scientists. No less than 20-30 Universities/Institutes in Islamabad alone produce a batch of 100 to 200 electrical engineers and computer scientists each, and that too within a year.

Unfortunately the problem was not limited to young graduate engineers not getting jobs because of a lack of Industry which could utilize their skill set; it also trickled into joblessness for Mid-Career Engineers. Firms employing Mid-Career/middle-managerial staff saw these entry level engineers as a way to bring down OPEX. They fired middle-management, raised an experienced lower management resource on a lower salary and then hired a fresh graduate; all this because the level of technical work required was not very advanced.

All in all, as far as my assessment goes: this ill planned program started by the government decades ago has brought nothing but unemployment to Pakistan.


The Need of Quality Control in Pakistan

downloadThere is a severe deficiency in the quality of products manufactured and circulated in Pakistan today, may it be in medicine, electronics or everyday consumer products. Citizens suffer extensively because no quality standards are followed by the industry here. Even multinational companies, who follow international quality standards throughout the world, do not adhere to such standards while working in Pakistan in a race to earn more money. As a recent example Nestle in India has been banned to vend instant noodles because they found the product to contain unacceptable amounts of Lead. I have not heard of any authorities in Pakistan doing similar tests on this product, or for that matter any product. In Electronics, LCD and LED screens are being sold and manufactured here, but no radiation control or testing of permissible levels of radiation is ever done in Pakistan. Similar is the case with Microwave Ovens. Cars are being manufactured and sold in Pakistan without meeting any quality or safety standards. There are no airbags in any models of Honda or Toyota being manufactured here. Neither are there any metal safety beams reinforcing doors to provide security to passengers in case of an impact from the side.

In my opinion, assuring quality is a way of providing justice to the public who normally pay high prices for different products today. If followed in letter and spirit, the general public will feel safer and more secure when justice is provided at this level by the government. It will generate a sense of responsibility among individuals to adhere to principles, rather than running for shortcuts and demolishing all standards of safety and regulation in the process. It will also open the international markets to products made in Pakistan by increasing their competitiveness.

It is normally assumed that the best solution is to let the consumer decide which product to buy on the “visible quality” of things. This however is a very irresponsible approach. The average consumer can in most cases never understand the hazards of consuming say for example an incorrectly produced medicine? Also in Pakistan there are trends of companies getting together to create a monopoly, where they all degrade the quality of a product whose competition is very small? Hence the consumer, in most cases, is neither literate enough nor competent to judge the quality of a product.

The question remains as to how quality can be controlled? The best possible way in my mind is to set up a quality assurance cell in all organizations at the national level, as a start. These organizations should have the mandate to promote, monitor and control the quality of products falling in their domain. Companies producing products whose standards fall short should be reprimanded and/or their production suspended for a specified time period. Government Servants/Staff should be sent abroad for International Certifications in Quality Assurance and Control. Quality should then be enforced strictly with penalties levied at any and all non-compliance.

The Divine Serenity of Islamabad

A view of Islamabad from the Margalla Hills,

DSCF0169DSCF0170DSCF0171DSCF0172DSCF0189DSCF0190DSCF0197DSCF0199

A view from the Shah-ALLAH-Ditta Caves in Margalla Hills,

DSCF0222DSCF0221

A view from my home: Islamabad during Monsoon rains,

DSCF0239DSCF0240DSCF0243DSCF0244DSCF0245

The Fatima Jinnah Park (Sector F-9), again during Monsoon.

DSCF0253DSCF0254DSCF0255DSCF0256DSCF0257DSCF0260DSCF0261DSCF0264DSCF0266DSCF0268DSCF0270DSCF0273

The Challenges Our Pakistani Youth Face Today

6a01348002e89e970c0133ed3ff09f970b-500pi

The youth in Pakistan today is facing more problems and therefore more challenges than they ever did before. There is an enormous rate of increase in the population. Private and public companies are trying to copy western practices regarding rules, regulations and job environments. There is a severe deficiency in proper planning on the use of human and capital resources, by our leaders. The inevitable fallout from these factors is a collapse of psychological health in our young people in addition to making the life of an average young aspiring individual very hard and complicated. It is therefore very important to first quantify these problems and then to plan accordingly in finding a solution.

The population explosion in Pakistan has led to a massive decrease in job opportunities. This increase in populace has been asymmetric, with already heavily populated cities of Pakistan bearing the brunt. A little planning from our leaders on developing new cities, uniformly across the country, would have made things a lot less difficult. The competition for resources, getting thinner by the day, is quite hard. Saturation has already sunk in. Today there are more people looking for a job than jobs available. The private sector in particular has started exploiting this situation by hiring young, inexperienced resources on extremely low salaries and demanding excessive and inhumane levels of labor from them.

There is an inclination in the public and private sector to follow western work environments. The working hours have been increased from six to eight in public sector companies and from nine to twelve in private companies. All the public sector seems to be gaining from this is an additional wastage of energy and human resources in office timings. The private sector seems to be capitalizing by putting more workload on its employees on a per week basis while paying them peanuts in proportion. The number of leaves per year has been cut down extensively and today the total numbers of holidays given for Eid in a year are less than those given for Christmas in the west. While employees in the west are encouraged to take a month off, in a year, from office to revitalize their energies, this trend is discouraged in Pakistan. So companies seem to be reaping all of the advantages while their workers are getting none of the benefits of the western work environment. The reason why such injustices are present in Pakistan is that labor laws are either too feeble or there is an absence of authorities that can challenge and combat this exploitation. Also because of the absence of the above, employees are made to sign biased clauses on job contracts of public and private companies and thereby adhere to company rules that completely favor the employer and treat the employee unfairly during and after employment. One of such notorious rules is the sacking of a worker on a day’s notice with no social security backup.

It is the job of planners in the government and private sector to enhance the opportunities of employment in a country. Sadly, this sector, like everything else in Pakistan is not being handled appropriately. While there is almost no effort to boost prospects and provide more jobs to skilled workers, there is also no check on institutes that provide training in an area. Some institutes keep producing trained personnel in an area, just as a means to mint money, where jobs have already gone scarce. This causes saturation and ultimately a waste of human and capital resources, not to mention the anguish the youth of this country have to face after going through extensive trainings and then having to learn that there were no opportunities in that area. It also indicates a lack of centers that provide career counseling.

All of the factors discussed above, along with other problems in the society have a negative psychological impact on today’s youth. It is solely because of these problems that psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety etc. are at a rise, particularly in the young people of Pakistan.

Just to emphasize, the sole purpose of highlighting all these issues is to create awareness in the young lot before they enter the practical world. Also identifying, quantifying and understanding are the first steps in solving problems.

Conspiracy Theories in Pakistan and Their Proofs

Sheep-Politics-Dog

I have quite extensively debated on various aspects of the Judicial Commission’s findings, at different levels. In all these discussions my focus has always been to rationally and logically explain the results. After all these exercises I have also inferred a conspiracy theory which may not seem reasonable or wise, but it does a pretty good summation of the facts we see lying around. The theory was so weird that I decided to chalk down an essay on it.

Some people have time and again suggested that Imran Khan and his party are secretly working under orders of the military rulers of this country. Today the military does not want to indulge in coup attempts, and subsequent dictatorial rules, as previous done. They now believe in a more subtle way of “tuning” democratic governments. A way that looks political to the world, but in fact does an equally good job in a secretive manner.

The “Dharna” seems to have been a staged event that was in fact a calculated maneuver by the military leadership. It was aimed at pushing the government to take a decisive step on two things. One, the war against religious extremists and militancy in the areas bordering Afghanistan, specifically the Taliban (TTP) and two, a targeted cleanup operation against politically motivated militant groups, namely the MQM in Sindh.

The government was almost crippled by the “dharna” for nearly six months. It was a time when a small push would have sent humpty dumpty down the wall. Somewhere around that point Nawaz Sharif realized that he would be losing power a third time to yet another military ruler. Finally awake, he bowed down to all demands (no exceptions) made by the covert operation leaders. It was right after the sit-in in Islamabad that a full scale military war was launched in Pakistan against terrorism and all its forms. From there on the support rendered by the ruling party was immense. The military suddenly realized that they had found an ally which could do as good a job, if not better than the PTI, given the circumstances. It was either that or a slight regard given by the present COAS to his appointing authority, or it could also be both. Whatever the reason, things started taking a turn and Imran Khan (and PTI) started losing preference. It could well be that the dissolution of the six month sit-in and findings of the Judicial Commission turning in favor of the ruling party are related and influenced by the military regime. This why PTI could not provide any proof (at all) of rigging in the 2013 elections. They were either told not to by the military or they were not provided sufficient material previously promised. In all cases it seems that the present military leadership and the sitting government is now working hand in hand and the PTI/PAT pressure has been removed, for the time being at least.

Evidence of PTI still being among the army ranks is indicated by the political attacks Imran Khan and his party are doing on MQM. I think everyone can recall the crackdown on the headquarters of MQM that took place within a few days of PTI trying to politically overturn MQM in their stronghold. It seems that the military is using IK’s party as a test to check the political climate of a subject area and a subject group. After the test, puppeteers then decide on how to proceed, either in a political or covert manner. A recently valid example is how IK’s party has, just a couple of days ago, given street protests and demonstrations in UK, in front of their PM’s office, ten Downing Street. The sole purpose was to put pressure on both the UK government and the leader of MQM, Altaf Hussain who is in self exile there.

Sadly the Problem Lies within Us

terrorism-in-pakistan_think-twice-pakistanIt is widely thought and believed in Pakistan that the Mujahideen, Taliban, and political parties like the MQM who have surfaced with militant wings were created by our heads of state during the 1980s. It is also believed that the creation of these groups was an erroneous decision taken by the then Pakistani leadership, as they have been the cause of terrorism, death and destruction here for the last decade and a half. The Mujahideen who ultimately became Taliban were initially formed as a tool against the Russian oppression in Afghanistan in the 1980s and were equally supported by the by the subsequent Pakistani governments in the 1990s, even after the pullout of Russian troops. So if their birth was a mistake, nobody seems to have recognized and corrected it subsequently.

MQM was also born in the 1980s as a political party, allegedly for political gains, in the province of Sindh by the same Pakistani leadership. They too were always believed and have recently been confirmed as a group that has spread terrorism in Karachi with the help of Indian intelligence agencies. Even after MQM’s birth, the party has always enjoyed support of almost each and every other political party of Pakistan, therefore if the leaders of the 1980s were responsible for this mistake so is everyone else who followed.

Now recently ISIS/Daish has started its evil work in Karachi. I’m at a loss, who do we blame now? Is it always the political leadership of Pakistan who is at fault or is that we as a nation have a problem?

Whether we admit it or not, we as a nation have abnormally great divides based on ethnicity, religious intolerance, and political affiliations. This split leads to severe hatred and intolerance towards each other. By nature, we are a scared, short-sighted, narrow-minded, rigid, obstinate and adamant people, which of course doesn’t help the cause. Our enemies use this weakness against us.

  1. The Taliban/Mujahideen and now ISIS/Daish card was and is being successfully used against Pakistan by forces who want chaos in Pakistan all because we have a huge religious segregation.
  2. The MQM card is being used against us because we are separated by ethnicity, and, in this case, a split in religious beliefs is also playing a part to some extent as well. Also, our political affiliations seem to be divine and unchangeable.

We cannot stand each others political, religious and ethnic allegiance.

As an example once we say we are following a political party. Every step the party takes, no matter how stupid or evil, becomes god’s providence and we support it blindly. This obstinacy is followed by throwing of tantrums especially on social websites against those who are brave enough to call a spade a spade.

Being a Muslim majority state, even if one faction of the Muslims perform a ritual like namaz in a slightly different manner, the other faction goes to the extent of calling the former a non-Muslim group. As far as my knowledge goes, this act of calling another a non-Muslim is severely forbidden in Islam.

Finally ethnicity. No matter how openly we say that ethnicity is bad and even disallowed by our religious norms, we, deep down in our hearts think oppositely. Groups in our society do not marry outside of it. Sitting at the same table they start talking in a language foreign to others, sometimes just to emphasize the fact that they belong to a different ethnic background. If that isn’t antisocial then what is?

We go to the extent of offering jobs to only those people who have similar ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds as ours, while others are rejected on this basis. If that is the level of justice, respect, and tolerance we have for each other, we may as well brace ourselves for more turmoil, as our enemies will use this weakness against us!

An Extremely Sorry Tale

It really has been a turbulent last few weeks. Re-election has been ordered in one of the four constituencies IK was after. I guess the results were expected as Saad Rafique was off the screen for quite some time now and it looks as though he knew what was coming and was bracing for impact. Although it is still too early to say whether the whole election was rigged, but IK followers who were losing hope are back in the ring.

On another front the PPP head, who was always informally known to be a criminal, has finally been declared one by none other than probably his best friend and fellow partisan. He has been accused of having illicit relations with women, corruption, rape, as well as murder of his family members. Well we always knew it and let him be our president for no less than five years so what’s the big deal now?

On yet another front MQM has been hit by torpedo after torpedo after torpedo. They have allegedly been involved in rigging in elections, money laundering, extortion, murder, terrorism, and treason against the state.

What I fail to see in the foreseeable future is punishment being handed over to any one of these criminals, so where is the justice in all this?

However the most saddening development for me has been the result of re-election in one of the constituencies of Karachi. People there have voted for the party that has been accused of a charge as atrocious as treason against the state; MQM’s candidate won by a landslide. The people of this country, no matter how educated, are completely stupid and ignorant. Whether it is proved that the last elections were rigged or not, things will never change till the dim-witted, obstinate people of this nation learn to differentiate between right and wrong. All these facts indicate one and only one thing, democracy does NOT suit Pakistan, and I have no idea what does!