Articles of the year 2010

Economic Terrorism
Published on May 08th, 2010

A report published in a local newspaper on May 6 stated: "Exchequer may suffer a loss of Rs 40 billion on the purchase of 150 locomotives from the US." What was even more shocking was the revelation that "this is in gross violation of the Public Procurement Rules 2004 of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), especially Rule No 4, 10, 20, 23(5), 24, 32, relating transparency, wide competition not restricting specifications to favour any particular bidder." These are but a few of the irregularities pointed out in the report. This is economic terrorism - being inflicted on the people of Pakistan by a company as bad as a suicide bomber with the effects lasting longer, for this money will have to be repaid through the sweat of Pakistanis by future generations.

The people are on the streets facing power outages, and water shortages not to mention the cost of fuel.

The PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif is busy saying that he has no intention to destabilise the system and he wanted the incumbent set up to complete its term, while we - the people - are left to watch the multi-billion dollar mega scams unfold before us. The PML-N chief is quite content to allow this warped system to bleed our poor nation. Surely, it is the duty of the opposition to oppose such flagrant corruption, and to ensure that such robbery should not take place.

Perhaps, the Supreme Court can take notice of these violations of the Pakistan government's laws.

The US administration should also be put to notice that these violations are in contravention of their own "corrupt practices Act", and both General Electric and the EXIM bank could be held liable under this Act for such actions in the American courts.

The US should not take the acquiescence of our present rulers to the scams to think that the Pakistani public is not aware of it. And it is likely that the US support of these acts will lose any sympathy the Pakistani people may feel for the terrorist attacks in America.

The media is reporting on these issues, and taking the position that the drone attacks are responsible for the angry reactions to the US. This is not the true picture. Since the people are holding the US administration responsible for propping up a "corruption is my right" regime. And as in other corrupt regimes in Pakistan and abroad, the US is more comfortable with assisting a corrupt government than in promoting a law abiding people, who can devote their energies into the economical uplift of industry and commerce creating jobs and exports rather than the quick fix of fiddled contract.

Surely, we deserve better than a corrupt leadership, and an accommodating opposition.

Imran Khan is the only leader who is trying to expose the corruption at all levels, but the political machine of the PML, both N and Q, are using their political muscle to keep him out and their workers in, well looked after and loyal. They use their political power to generate contracts for their own, without a thought for the legalities. Both sides have the "corruption is my right" credo.

Nawaz Sharif is ignoring the suffering of the hundreds of millions living below the poverty line, and now without jobs. Certainly, a very dangerous scenario. Aided and abetted by the Americans, who do not realise the degree of blame they share in the minds of the bulk of the Pakistani people. The Americans find it convenient to retreat behind bunkers, and safer. Not realising that the bunker culture did not prevent the defeats in other countries like Vietnam and Iran; both defeats were the result of complete isolation of the US from the local population. In both countries, the population was genuinely pro-US, but were turned against by the incorrect policies of the successive Ame-rican governments.

Today, the US stands at the centre of a huge territory stretching from Iraq to Afghanistan with billions of dollars being spent annually, and nothing to show. Worse, Pakistan is being further driven into poverty, and unemployment, while we fight an unpopular war, and the US blithely says that we should "do more."

Our industries are shutting down, pushing more unemployed on to dark hot streets. The northern areas of Pakistan are also 'no-go' areas for the Americans, and if these policies continue then this may expand to include parts of Sindh and Punjab. This hatred has certainly made its way into the minds of the bombers - and now in the US.

Surely, the sale of the 150 locomotives will be considered an unfriendly act to the people of Pakistan, especially at a price two and a half times the recent purchase from China. Only this time it will be seen as deliberately mid-wifed by the US government of whom the Exim bank is an important and powerful arm. This is economic terrorism and a great opportunity for suo motu notice, and for some Pakistani citizens to join the fray and sue General Electric for the damages.

If ever there was a time for a citizen's action and lawsuit this is it.