Thursday, October 23, 2008

Authority & Responsibility - 8

Khan Arif wrote:

Mr. Naqvi before resorting to such slur on the army must realize such a simple thing that army does what the rulers order. The responsibility of Kargil debacle lies on PM Nawaz Sharif. For East Pakistan debacle the responsibility lies on ZAB and General Yahya who listened to people like Khar who said that anybody who goes to Dacca for NA, his legs would be broken by PPP. Had Yahya listened to Asghar Khan, there was chance of Pakistan remaining united as a confederation!

Arif N. Khan

Dear Arif Sahab,

Then why didn't the Army tried Bhutto for treason instead of Murder [Read Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report - Its open now]. About Kargil read the statement of those Generals who were part and parcel of that Plan and they are themselves saying that Nawaz Sharif [why Army sent Nawaz and his family to exile, and then again why Brigadier Retd. Niaz approached Nawaz Family for accepting the Musharraf] was not taken into confidence. About Asgher Khan he is the man who is also responsible for the present mess Pakistan is in, it was Asgher Khan who wrote letter to General Zia for impose Martial Law in 1977 [Zia obliged Asgher Khan, JI, and USA as well by murdering Bhutto]. Again it was Asgher Khan who allowed his son Omar Asgher [May Allah have mercy on his soul] to joing Martial Law Cabinet in 1999. Dear Arif Sahab, your love for Martial Law is commendable but at least dont distort the history!

Just one question. Why did the Pakistan Army Tolerated Shaukat Aziz from 1999 - 2007 first as Financial Advisor then as Finance Minister and then as Prime Minister of Pakistan. By the way why Pakistan Army let Shaukat Aziz go?

An ode to Shaukat Aziz

Monday, January 14, 2008

Since about Oct 12, 2007, the news in the country and internationally hasn’t really allowed us to pay homage to a great patriot who gave us NINE years of his life and has recently left with a heavy heart for greener pastures. I speak of Shaukat Aziz, who has recently left for London and then will be attending the World Economic Summit at Davos in his “personal” capacity. Shaukat Aziz needs no introduction to the people of Pakistan, who have so much to thank him for, for his extended tour in Pakistan as finance minister and then prime minister. Mr Aziz came, he banked, and now has cashed his chips to move on, leaving his illustrious career as a politician to perhaps serve the people of another wretched country. I really don’t know what the people of Tharparkar and Attock will do without their beloved leader.

I think Shaukat Aziz is one of the most misunderstood “politicians” in the history of Pakistan. The middle class and the English-speaking minority really liked him because he wore nice suits and spoke such wonderful English, which automatically made people think that he was going to do good things for the nation. Unfortunately, what most people didn’t realise is that he was a private banker and not an economist. His job for two decades had been to help people stash away ill-gotten money in places where other people couldn’t find it, and not formulate fiscal policy to help a developing nation grow.

During the fiscal reign of Shaukat the First, the average Pakistanis saw access to unprecedented levels of cheap credit which can be compared to the United States where people bought houses in unprecedented numbers due to access to cheap credit. Being a banker, Shaukat Aziz rallied to the cause of his fellow bankers, liberalised the banking sector, and ensured that banking spreads were among the highest in the world. Needless to say, over the past eight years banks have been more profitable than they had ever been. And who got screwed in the process? The average depositor, of course. Thank you, Shaukat Aziz.

Since 1999, when Shaukat Aziz became a member of Musharraf’s “dream” team and took over as finance minister till the day he left office as prime minister, not one megawatt of electricity was added to the national grid. Yet, because of Shaukat Aziz’s policies of providing cheap credit to one and all, he can be credited with selling more consumer electronics than any advertising campaign. But if we weren’t generating more power, how was the average Pakistani supposed to run his fancy new air-conditioner and deep-freezer? Today’s power crisis, which is affecting both the consumer and the industrial user, can squarely be blamed on Shaukat Aziz’s flawed economic policies. Yes men like Dr Salman Shah who played Robin to Shaukat’s Batman should be ashamed of themselves for not speaking out when they could have. Maybe if this lot had spent less time jetting around the globe and running their self-promotional PR exercises, and focused on their jobs we wouldn’t find ourselves in the mess we are in today.

Shaukat Aziz and his economic dream team can also be squarely held responsible for the disastrous food insecurity Pakistanis are facing today. There is an atta crisis in the land today and prices have spiralled out of control because Mr Aziz decided to allow the export of wheat as a political favour a little before he took off for London. According to news reports, a rice crisis is also in the pipeline. While Mr Aziz was more partial to scones, he should have known that his trickledown effect hadn’t quite brought his constituents to the same culinary level as him.

Our alternate energy policy is also one of the most backward in the region. Permissions to set up wind farms have been doled out to cronies and political allies like party favours. For instance, the former foreign minister’s son has been given the green light to set up a wind farm in Sindh in record time, while others had to wait with applications in hand till some secretary found time to meet them. While our neighbours are generating electricity from wind and solar sources, our grid relies on expensive oil and gas sources. Sweetheart deals all around for everyone. Sad, but we can thank the dream team.

The fallout from some of the flawed policies of the last ten years will be felt in the coming years in the form of spiralling inflation, high interest rates, higher utility bills, and more; but they’re not because of ineptitude or lack of resources, rather of picking the wrong guy for the job. Hiring a private banker to do the job of a policy economist is like getting a plumber to fix your car’s engine. I do believe in divine justice and Shaukat Aziz was vying for Citibank’s top job and was lobbying hard for it, yet the board, instead, picked an Indian with an impeccable reputation. Mr Aziz is currently at Davos in his “personal” capacity, no doubt looking for a plum opportunity. While I personally don’t hold a grudge against him, I would urge him not to return to his home constituency of Tharparkar or Attock anytime soon.

No comments: