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?Joint pharma ventures way out for Pak?

india Updated: Nov 21, 2006 17:56 IST

WHILE INDIAN pharmaceutical companies are joining hands with overseas ones to come up with new drugs through joint R&D exercise, the Bhopal-born Pakistan pharma czar Abdul Haseeb Khan strongly feels that public-private partnership (PPP) and Indo-Pak joint ventures is the only way out for Pakistani pharmaceutical companies to survive in the WTO regime.

“SAFTA (South Asia Free Trade Agreement), that came into effect on January 1, can be stated to be the end result of SAARC and contains the practical aspect of it, as without entering into trade agreements, regional development of SAARC countries couldn’t be actualised,” he opined in an exclusive interview to the Hindustan Times. 

Khan, chairman of Karachi’s major industrial area Korangi Association of Trade & Industry, is quite hopeful of SAFTA, as he feels that all aspects of Pakistan and India have been addressed. With the governments involving real partners, it speaks of the integrity of the agreement.

“If nothing unusual happens, I’m quite hopeful that it would help not only in strengthening of ties between the two nations, but bring in economic progress. And, we need to move faster or we’ll be losers,” he cautions.

Also, representing Pakistan at SAARC and president of Brookes Pharmaceutical Laboratories (Pak) Ltd – a Karachi-based multi-drug manufacturing company having a broad array of highly specialised, ethical medicines, Khan views the WTO as a system which is ‘just to stop the under-developing countries for growing by putting all sorts of restrictions at various fronts’.

“The WTO is criminal and the Europe & the US are the main culprits. It’s the high time for Pakistan and India to realise the fact and act, otherwise both would be wiped out,” he remarked.     

There is a genuine concern among many quarters that Pakistan pharmaceutical industry would not be able to compete giant competitors of China and India as well as the MNCs, who virtually enjoy monopoly in post-WTO regime and TRIPS, and Pakistan’s share in global pharmaceutical market being just 0.31 per cent.

“The solution is PPP in industrial development and R&D, as government alone can’t bring the desired change,” said Khan. He agrees that mergers & collaboration of pharma companies is important to tackle the high cost of R&D and India has been successful in doing the same. “Some of India’s manufacturing units are at par with global bests,” appreciates Khan. 

Pakistan, like India in the last three years, has witnessed private-government partnership in several projects, with 25 per cent government stakes and rest private. “The effect is visible in Korangi Industrial Area itself that contributes 68 per cent of total revenue in industrial sector,” the association president pointed out.

On empowering the SAARC, Khan opined if China joins the seven-nation body, it would lead to half the world population and successfully combat the threats from developed nations. “Indo-Pak 50:50 joint venture has a lot of potential and is the best option to actualise trade agreement, and companies have started doing it,” he said, citing example of Indian herbal major - Himalaya Drugs, which has made a big investment in Lahore.    

Identifying two areas – bureaucracy and human resource development  — Haseeb Khan said bureaucracy should be limited to governance & administration, whereas the latter is the key to future success, which needs to be developed effectively. “Bureaucracy cann’t anymore decide the future of a nation. Whereas in HRD, we talk a lot, but nothing concrete takes place,” he said.

Be it in India or Pakistan – investments and flow of FDI depend on government’s will. “Government needs to involve industry, provide better infrastructure, facilities and sops to bring rapid industrialisation,” Khan said, adding if China could do it or Dubai succeeds in attracting mega-investments, why not Pakistan or India, with their immense resources in every field.  

To be feted today
HUM EK Hain, an educational and socio-cultural society, is organising the 15th All-India Mushaira and Indo-Pak Friendship Award at Mulla Ramoozi Sanskriti Bhawan on November 21.

Governor Balram Jakhar will be the chief guest while Commerce and Industry minister Babulal Gaur will be the guest of honour. Society secretary Manzar Bhopali said that Abdul Haseeb Khan, chairman of the Korangi Association of Trade & Industry (Karachi), would be conferred with the Indo-Pak Friendship award.