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Banker to PM Pakistan – Shaukat Aziz

Shaukat Aziz banker to PM Pakistan 

Shaukat Aziz‘s story is from Banker to PM Pakistan, who was born on March 6, 1949, in Karachi. He received his entire education in Pakistan, first at Corks Private School, then at St Patrick’s High School in Karachi, which was run by Catholic missionaries, as well as a year at a boarding school in Abbottabad. He earned his bachelor’sdegree in physics and chemistry from Gordon College in Rawalpindi before enrolling in the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi to pursue an MBA. His father, S.A. Aziz (sometimes Abdul Aziz), was a radio engineer who worked as chief engineer for the state-owned PakistanBroadcasting Corporation (PBC). His father, S.A. Aziz, was known for making significant contributions to the development of Radio Pakistan and was the architect of its external services; for this, the government of Pakistan bestowed state honors on him in the 1950s. S.A. Aziz was a pioneer who nurtured Radio Pakistan in its early days and charted the future roadmap for network expansion, technological advancement, and growth.

Career as banker

In 1969, Aziz joined Citibank Pakistan’s corporate branch as a credit officer. After arriving in the United States to assume the charge of corporate assignment, Aziz settled in New York City and took over Citibank’s office operations at the Empire State Building. In the United States, Aziz worked for Citibank in a variety of capacities, including Corporate and Investment Banking, Corporate Planning Officer, Chief Financial Officer of Citicorp, and Managing Director of Citibank Singapore.

Aziz was instrumental in bringing multinational banking industries into Pakistan in the 1990s, and he was instrumental in expanding Citibank branches and corporate directive operations throughout the country. Aziz was the corporate director of Asia Pacific global finance operations at Citibank and was well-known for financing and managing funds in global stock markets on behalf of Citibank and other financial corporations. Aziz continued to visit Pakistan, working to expand Citibank’s financial services and banking, as well as overseeing Citigroup’s branch network and influence in Pakistan.

He worked closely with the governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in the 1990s to help negotiate economic relief packages and aid to Pakistan, while maintaining diverse relations with Pakistan’s Armed Forces, who would also visit the US as part of Sharif’s and Benazir Bhutto’s state visits. Aziz had extensive access to the US Treasury, the World Bank, and numerous other global financial institutions. Aziz collaborated closely with the US in order to finance US war games and operations. John B. Taylor maintained (In a book, Global Financial Warrior) that Aziz was well-versed in the intricacies of secretive methods of transferring funds in and out of South Asia, particularly clandestine financing of nuclear weapons programs in India and Pakistan.

Professional to Politician

Aziz reportedly rejoined Musharraf in November 1999 and took over the Finance Ministry as Finance Minister. The national economy suffered a 70% decline, with losses ranging from $150 million (1999) to $600 million (2000), accounting for 0.21 percent of global FDI flow. With his macroeconomic policies, taxation framework, and consistent investment policy, Aziz took initiatives for FDI, offering incentives to foreign investors.

Aziz implemented and activated the Privatization Program (established in 1991 by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif) in 2001, opening all state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to the private sector. This program propelled the country into rapid economic growth and the highest level of industrialization it had seen since 1972. Following the 2002 general elections, Aziz stepped up his campaign and aggressively pursued economic liberalization policies in the country. Aziz’s financial policies became embroiled in controversies, posing new challenges for Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was forced to resign in his favor. His affordable real estate scheme encouraged ordinary people to buy a house and a car for a low investment, but it also resulted in an increase in zoning violations in construction companies. Although Zafarullah Khan Jamali kept inflation at a low level, his price control deregulation policies caused oil and sugar prices to skyrocket.

His public and economic liberalization policies expanded the political role of Pakistan’s Supreme Court at a higher level of government, allowing it to target high-level government corruption independently and without government interference. Pakistan’s Foreign Reserves had been restored to $16.4 billion by October 2007, at the end of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s tenure. Pakistan had a trade deficit of $13 billion, exports of $18 billion, revenue generation of $13 billion, and foreign investment of $8.4 billion. The IMF and World Bank both praised Pakistan’s fiscal performance.

The World Bank also stated that Pakistan’s economic growth has increased international confidence. Mr. George Abed, the IMF’s new South Asia director, stated that he is “very pleased with Pakistan’s record of continued macroeconomic and financial stabilization over the last three years, and we have begun to think of Pakistan as a country of promise with a potentially high rate of growth.” The Asian Development Bank lauded Pakistan’s Microfinance sector as well. Mr. Aziz was named “Finance Minister of the Year” by Euromoney and Bankers magazines in 2001. By 2004, Aziz had become General Musharraf’s right-hand man, as Musharraf described in his memoirs.

Shaukat Aziz’s performance as finance minister had impressed Pakistan’s powerful oligarch business class, particularly Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. Following the resignation of Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali on June 26, 2004, Hussain nominated Aziz for the office of Prime Minister. Musharraf also considered Aziz a top candidate for the Prime Ministerial post. Aziz, on the other hand, was a Senator but not a member of the National Assembly. The Prime Minister was required by the constitution to be a member of the National Assembly. Aziz was regarded as a “technocrat,” having won the trust of the establishment, international institutions, and public support. His appointment came after another technocrat-economist, Dr. Manmohan Singh was elected Prime Minister of India, and Aziz was widely regarded as compatible with his Indian counterpart.

2007 to Present

Aziz is a senior visiting research fellow at Oxford University’s Green Templeton College and an Honorary Doctor of Laws at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Karachi, where he earned his MBA. Mr. Aziz received an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from East Asia University in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2014. Aziz serves on the boards and advisory boards of numerous commercial and non-profit organizations around the world. He is a frequent speaker on global, geopolitical, and economic topics. He is married with three adult children.

I hope this article has helped you learn a little bit about Shaukat Aziz, how he became “Banker to PM Pakistan” and Professional to Politician.

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