Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Pakistan’s Survival at Stake

Killing of around 100 people is less than 24 hours in selected cities of Pakistan clearly shows that there is some thing grossly wrong, which even the rulers are not able to understand. Some cynics say the rulers understand the ground realities but can’t take any action against the perpetrators. Attacks on security personnel are a clear indication that insurgents are openly challenging writ of the government.
Sunday’s attacks seem to be aimed at proving a few points the most important being; if personnel of security services are not safe or can’t protect themselves, how can they protect ordinary people and more importantly frontiers of the country?
Perpetrators are trying to create breach between Sunnis and Shias, which is purely foreign agenda. The countries keen in maintaining their hegemony have exploited this in Iraq and Afghanistan but are facing a lot of resistance in Syria.
Over the last four decades the external forces have created fanatics in Pakistan, who consider all others Muslims ‘inferior’ and are also killing people belonging to minorities, indiscriminately.
Ironically, some of the political parties still have soft corner for these fanatics and are suggesting negotiations with them rather than taking stern action against them. One completely fails to understand the logic as these fanatics openly claim responsibility of killing but some quarters are still insisting on negotiations.
One of the points of concern is that since 2001 these perpetrators have killed people and the number ranges from 40,000 to 80,000. However, the most regrettable point is that under the prevailing system not even one perpetrator has been punished.
Ironically, those at the helm of affairs have not been able to distinguish between political activist and militants. They also fail to recognize the fact that around the world rebel groups are created, provided fund and arms only to plunge the countries into anarchy.
One need not go through the history but a closer look at whatever is happening in Egypt, Turkey and Syria is enough to open eyes of Pakistanis. When Hosni Mubarak became redundant a movement was sponsored against him and general elections were also held. Now the same external powers have facilitated dismissal Muhammad Morsi. Almost a similar story is being enacted in Turkey.
These external powers have been supporting rebels in Syria for last two years and nearly 90,000 innocent people have been killed. Interestingly, the external forces are still blaming the Syrian government for these killings but at no point accept the fact that they are responsible for these killings.
At times it is being felt that this world is being ruled by mad people who have only one objective, how to kill more people? On the face value, these people look most respectable, as they own businesses worth trillions of dollars, in reality they are ‘merchants of death’. They are the sellers of lethal weapons and are always busy in creating conflicts among people and countries so that they can sell more arms.
Historically, Pakistan has remained in focus because of its location as it is surrounded by three most volatile countries i.e. Afghanistan, India and Iran. The global and regional super powers have special attraction for all these countries and wish to further consolidate their position by following centuries old saying “Divide and Rule”.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Pakistan: Dilemma of Policy Planners

With every passing day the conviction seems to be getting stronger that PML-N government headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif hardly has any sense of priority. Many of its announced plans lack coherence and at the best can be termed wishful thinking and worst of all complacency is based on perceptions rather than ground realities.
The country is suffering from severe balance of payment crisis, which demands following multi pronged strategy, negotiations with International Monetary Fund (IMF) being the top priority. It seems the government has hardly done any homework prior to commencing negotiations with the lender of last resort.
Those at the helm of affairs suffer from the illusion that the United States needs Pakistan rather than realizing the harsh reality that India is being promoted as regional super power and also being assigned an important role in Afghanistan after the pullout of US-led Nato forces.
The entire focus of Senator Ishaq Dar seems to be on mobilizing additional taxes and withdrawing subsidies.  PML-N government has been talking about resolution of circular debt issue by borrowing more but completely ignoring the urgent need to overcome the two most contentious issues: rampant pilferage and poor recovery. Injection of billion of rupees may reduce the debt for the time being but it will reappear soon.
Some of the analysts are of the view that Mian Sahib is surrounded by people having vested interest, seeking funds on concessional terms for establishing power generation facilities. These analysts also believe that another ‘power scam’ is in the making.
To substantiate their argument they say that the country has installed capacity of over 28,000MW but actual utilization hovers at less than half. Therefore, the top priority should be running of power powers at optimum capacity utilization rather than adding new capacities.
Some of the cynics say that Since Dar is an accountant by profession his entire focus is on profit and loss statement and balance sheet rather than achieving synergy, economy of scale and off course there is no focus on restoring confidence of investors.
At present Pakistan is suffering from ‘confidence deficit’ which is even worse than budget deficit and trade deficit put together. Local investors are shy because of looming energy crisis and deteriorating law and order situation.
Mobilizing additional tax without putting the economy on track is ‘hoping against hopes’. Since bulk of Pakistan’s revenue collection comes from indirect taxes, people must have ample purchasing power. Bleak outlook for the economy, eroding purchasing power and shrinking job opportunities forces people not to spend. On top of all failure of the government to contain price hike adds to the woes of masses.
There is an old saying ‘action talks louder than words’ but in case of PML-N there is hardly any action but big talk, mostly blame game. Both Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari are being held responsible for the poor state of economy.
People listened to this during the election campaign but now want action to remove some of the malice. PML-N had sought 100 days to put the economy on track but its real challenge will be getting the budget endorsed by the IMF to enter into an agreement with the Fund.
Ironically most of the members of National Assembly can’t comprehend impact of budget proposals and impact of these on masses. They consider clapping their sole duty during the speeches of Prime Minister and Finance Minister and saying ‘I second’ their sole responsibility. In return members are given huge development funds which are mostly spent on development of their home town rather than those areas which need the funds most.
Though, it was expected that collectively ANP, MQM, PPP and PTI will emerge as strong combined opposition, not much has been delivered as yet. Many analysts fear that the present opposition will also be the ‘friendly opposition’ only. Since some of the leading parties have formed government at province, these are effectively part of ruling junta and not the opposition.