Articles of the year 2005

Leading from the Front
Published on July 24th, 2005

Watching the President on Television addressing the United Nations made one proud of being a Pakistani. More so because he was at center stage effortlessly, and being sought out by other heads of State for Photo ops. We have come a long way in four years, for when Clinton stopped over for a few hours and refused the photo session, now people are standing in line, to meet the man. My latest information is that the Student body of Yale have sent him an invitation to address the Student body and the Faculty. Four of the last six Presidents of the US are Yale Graduates, so it is indeed a singular honour. For Pakistan this sort of projection in the Academic World is so much more important in boosting our image, away from the usual Paki –bashing indulged in by our neighbour, and by most of our members of the Opposition leadership. He must be doing something right. Yet again he must be doing a lot right, for he is surely on a roll and both he and the Country are doing well for it.

We also have an ex-Prime Minister being hauled up before a Swiss Court on a money laundering charge, serious charges enough in the Swiss eyes, in the same week no less, as the President's UN address. The comparison is too droll. Today the Politics of Pakistan stands sullied, for, one of them, the Leader of one of the largest Parties stands indicted in a foreign court for allegedly having broken the Swiss law. How can the Politicians continue with their mud slinging, for they must cleanse themselves first?

At the same time we hear the old refrain, going on about the Kashmiri cause,from the same politicians. Yes, we are 58 years down the road. 70,000 people have lost their lives in Kashmir. Has Pakistan in these years gained even one inch of lands from the Indian grip? No, in point of fact we lost half the Country. This an opportune moment for us as our credibility is high right now, and before any other setback occurs let us put all the goodwill that we have going for us to work, It is time to move on, and use the Captain that we have, to lead us into a new era of Peace.

We also need to focus all our energies on the Economy, as our economy is still at a very precarious position, regardless of what our bankers tell us. Our much hyped foreign exchange reserves could vanish overnight if the price of oil continues on its present course. The Chinese for all their friendliness are swamping our markets with their goods, at the cost of our own Industrial production. Islamabad is not truly aware or not taking corrective measures to stem this tide. In the electronics field I have stated in my earlier columns most of our manufacturers have closed down and are importing Chinese goods with their logos printed over. The labour involved is coming onto the open market with no jobs to absorb them. This is a very very serious matter and Islamabad is not really addressing the issue. The President needs to shuffle a few people around, because the Economy is stagnating and has no reason to be so. The banks are flush with cash, but this money is not being put to productive use—ie manufacture. We must emulate our Chinese friends and learn to manufacture at their prices, ----or die. Watching CNN the other night, the commentator said ' When the oil prices go up the stocks come down'. Strangely enough, here in Pakistan with the oil prices going through the roof--- so are the shares—Very strange, maybe we are law unto ourselves.

Similarly at the Agra summit Nobody still knows what went wrong!It is certainly not the ISI but some senior bureaucrats acting with their counterparts in Delhi.It is not the Army because the Chief was the President and stood to lose the most—and did on the personal capacity .It is not the Businessman because he is not anywhere near this level of Policy making..These forces should be kept in mind and surely they should be reined in.I would like to see a public debate on these issues and maybe it is about time we look at the economic side of the picture and see how we can benefit --- of course without sacrificing Kashmir.