Articles of the year 2012

The Judgment
Published on January 22, 2012

Well there we have it. The long-awaited Supreme Court judgement, penned by the most decorated Chief Justice of our Supreme Court has been read by most students of law who in turn passed their own judgement, and have termed it 'much thunder and lightning signifying nothing.' The hopes of a savage indictment of the behavior of the Federal Government starting with at least contempt notices against the Prime Minister for not obeying the orders of the Supreme Court, were dashed when the assemblage of lawyers reading the order read ad reread the order thinking they they had missed something. But no, the order was complete with absolutely no loopholes for the opposition to sneak through. President Zardari has finally proven himself to be the master of Pakistan politics,certainly of the motley crowd opposing him over the last three years, even from within the PPP. He has astutely gauged their calibre, and bested them at each step.Till the judgement from the Supreme Court made sure that there would be no further hiccups.

There is no option for the opposition but venture onto the streets to bring the people head to head. Risking an all out war on the streets, inviting attention from other enemies of Pakistan. But now with a 'friendly Supreme Court' or at least one with a lowered threshold of danger Zardari can get on with running the country. Pakistan has now entered a phase where it is facing multiple threats all economic. The American 'bogey' of external threats are non-existent and trotted out from time to time to frighten the Pakistani army back into line.

The time is ripe for the President to apply his considerable business acumen to the betterment of the Pakistani people. We have already suffered at the hands of excessive bureaucracy, and now with a smart businessman to lead them, the Pakistanis can use the Zardari touch to cut through the red tape, and fast track projects. With Zardari's knowledge of business and the potential of the Pakistani businessmen who are already well known to him, he is well positioned to pick some young Pakistanis to be projected onto the world market. This is a page from the Marcos book where he projected his friends soon to be known as the 'crony' culture. The success with the Marcos cronies was that most were already successful businessmen, with huge enterprises behind them. It does help if the businessmen have a proven track record. With Zardari's earlier associates this was a major flaw, as most of the cronies had a dubious background. Surely Zardari can pick and project a new crop of youngsters to enter the fray and try their luck. With their energy, and the right luck we could produce new Adamjees and new Saigols and Dawoods.

Unfortunately Musharraf was caught in the honey trap of the Stock Market. The main players were the top brokers themselves. Controlling the prices, they turned the stock exchange into a casino, and built fortunes for themselves and their 'intheknow' friends, aka insider trading. Even Shaukat Aziz, proudly claimed that his stock exchange 'was the best performer in the world' ! While the world's markets were crashing the KSE was trading at record levels. Even the NLC the army trucking behemoth borrowed huge amounts at commercial rates and invested in the stock market. The officers involved are facing serious charges.His State Bank Governors, who awarded themselves Gold medals, as Bankers of the year no less, could not understand the bechanics being used.

Now there is a savvy minister of Finance, who has wisely lowered the interest rate. Realizing that there is no industrialist in Pakistan who can run an Industry borrowing money at 25%. The only people making money were the bankers, but as a nation our industry and commerce were suffering. This single step could restart our industries that are closed, and create jobs for the unemployed. The power crisis is another example. The Prime Minister released 10 billion Rupees and behold the load shedding stopped. If it was that simple then, why was it not done before? The circular debt is an artifice created by politicians to skim, by holding back payments due to the IPPs and use these funds to dole out to their friendly politicians for more Land Cruisers at a crore of rupees each. While the children had to do without lights to study by, and had to swelter in the summer heat.

This is also a good time to send these youngsters to project a new image, and to distance ourselves from the image foisted upon us by the American allies, as part of the collateral damage. This damage is possibly as dangerous as that caused by a drone attack--if not more. The image that we have as a 'terrorist state', is driving our buyers to Bangladesh to purchase cloth woven from Pakistani yarn, spun on machinery from Pakistan cotton funded by Pakistani businessmen. This, then, is the far reaching collateral damage to the Pakistani economy and does not account for the loss of jobs in the local households. The importance right now is to explain to the American people

That we are not their enemy, and that they would be better off telling our leadership to concentrate on the economy, which is the main thrust of this article. And to leave the defense of the Government to the incompetence of the opposition,rather than have an economy imploding by having the wrong priorities. Surely the President is being misled by his political advisers to look elsewhere, away from the actual problems. As I have said earlier, there is now no threat , and these are demons created by his own people to keep him busy. The Chaudris have a knack of burying Governments. Zardari should dispense with them at the earliest, and ride his own luck. Luck is non transferrable. Just ask Parvez Elahi