Politics, Power and Pakistan

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Politics is not just about rising to the top ultimately; it is about using this power effectively. The new elected President of Pakistan Mr. Zardari has yet to demonstrate that he is as good at making judicious use of his political capital as he was at acquiring it. True, he has put his weight behind the military operations against extremist under the slogan of  ‘War on terror'. However, beyond this, one cannot discern any clear-cut direction his government is following.

We have heard a number of vague promises, but only little is firm by way of specific policy directives. Granted, there is an economic crisis to overcome, and inflation is gnawing at the well being of millions of Pakistanis. Defenders of the government claims that the present number of ministers are less than those anointed by the former dictator General Musharraf in previous regime was the gold standard the present government wants to be compared with. Quite apart from the resources squandered on this ministerial horde, there is the larger question of image and perceptions. If a country like the United States can be run by a federal cabinet of 16 or so ministers called ‘secretaries' in America, we hardly need four times that number here.

Another decision to raise eyebrows is the current floor on trading at the stock exchange. This artificial and utterly futile device prevents share prices falling below a certain arbitrary level. Most share prices around the world are falling, reflecting the global economic crisis. So why should our bourses be shielded from this storm? Instead of going down in a series of trading sessions where traders can bail out if they want to. At present, the impression is that the whole exercise is design to protect certain big speculators and brokers from huge losses.

Although Mr. President is supporting the ongoing fight against the deadly radical extremist threat, his government has not done a very good job explaining what is at stake, and exactly whom the army is fighting. A few days ago, from NY Times published a long story about the difficulties our army is encountering in its war. While the report covered the plight of the civilians displaced by the fighting, readers were able to understand why heavy weapons had been needed. The story had been made possible because the army took a number of foreign reporters into the battle zone.

If this image of a banana republic is to change, an example must be set at the top. Mr. President has against expectations, emerged as a credible, shrewd politician. In some ways, he has had power, if not greatness, thrust upon him. Nevertheless, he needs to divest himself of some of the freeloaders who have homed in on Islamabad after his elevation. Above all, he needs to get serious about governance.

Feroz Ahmed Bawany goal is to increase my knowledge and to understand the only civilized creations of Almighty Lord are HUMAN. He is a regular contributer to TRCB.com.

 

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