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Prime Minister Cameroon Coached President Karzai and Prime Minister Sharif about Islamic Finance – But did they listen?

Prime Minister Cameron Coached President Karzai and Prime Minister Sharif about Islamic Finance – But did they listen?

Speaking to the World Islamic Economic Forum (W.I.E.F) in London on October 29, 2013 the British Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron said this:

” —Let me be clear what this means.

Never again should a Muslim in Britain feel unable to go to university because they cannot get a Student Loan – simply because of their religion.

Never again should a Muslim in Britain feel unable to go to start a business because they cannot get a Start-up Loan – simply because of their religion.”

Thank you Mr. Prime Minister for highlighting this fundamental missing link in the global financial reforms, a parameter which potentially can guide policy makers in the G20 countries and the international organizations like United Nations, IMF, World Bank and other multilateral development banks.

When the British Prime Minister was lecturing the W.I.E.F delegates on the relevance of Islamic Finance in empowering those who believe that interest/riba is prohibited, President Karzai of Afghanistan, Prime Minister NajibRazak of Malaysia and Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan were present. The Malaysian Prime Minister must have been very encouraged as W.I.E.F itself is a Malaysian sponsored forum and Malaysia was praised by Mr. Cameron for that country’s leading role in promoting Islamic finance.

The question is Mr. Sharif was no doubt present but was he listening carefully? Just to remind the policy makers of Mr. Sharif’s cabinet, Pakistan was the first country in the world to issue a comprehensive blueprint (masterplan) in 1979 on “Eliminating Interest from the Economy of Pakistan”. Irrespective of our total and complete rejection of dictatorship as an extractive form of governance, that initiative of a dictator if it was implemented sincerely would have been mentioned by Mr. Cameron as the best example. Despite wearing the color of the center-right in the Pakistani social setup, Mr. Sharif never supported Islamic finance in Pakistan. And for other political forces it was distasteful to carry on with Islamic finance as the legacy of a pathetic dictator. However, these are the basic contradictions in our society that we need to remove and to remove these we need a complete reconciliation – a total “let it go” national mentality to build a new Pakistan.

Let me explain why I selected the above quote from Mr. Cameron’s Speech and I suggest Mr. Sharif’s policy makers must concentrate on these quotes like professional policy makers.

The large majority of the Pakistani society whom Mr. Sharif’s government represents attends mosques regularly and at least on Fridays,especially. Another significant population segment which follows the religious political parties is even a more ardent follower of the faith. This doesn’t mean that the followers of the liberal political groups are godless. Add to it the silent and independent segment of the population. Therefore, it is a reality that the influence of the Islamic faith is dominant in our daily lives.

In the mosque, especially in all Friday sermons Riba/Interest is condemned declaring it war against Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him). Belief on this representation of faith prevails among a very significant segment of the Muslim population all over the world. As a consequence there is an intense aversion to the interest-based financial services. Hence we have an answer to the most perennial question – why the poorest of the poor in the world are Muslims? They are poor because they abhor the interest-based financial services.

Hence I selected that brief quotation from Mr. Cameron’s long speech. Certainly, he was talking about pluralism and inclusiveness and was not advocating a religious viewpoint.

If Mr. Cameron can understand the root cause of poverty and deprivation among Muslims why can’t Mr. Sharif and Mr. Karzai understand it!

Mr. Cameron makes Islamic finance relevant as a tool for fighting a winning war against poverty. Why can’t the other G20 leadership also listen to him?

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