he Federal Government has recently launched a major investment effort in the public sector, this is in utter contrast to the recently (and oft) stated intention of the PM to go in for privatisation of the nationalised industries. The question arises, is this a major shift of policy, a volte-face on earlier pronouncements or is there more to it than meets the economic eye? On the face of it the Federal Government’s machinery is emanating conflicting signals, not surprising that along with other “encounters of the strange kind” we have been blind-sided by them. Mr Ali Nawaz Shah, Federal Minister for Industries, accompanied by Mr Tariq Sayeed, President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and a high level delegation visited the US to solicit foreign investment in late August this year. Widely reported in the business media, he reiterated PM Benazir’s avowed intention to go the Thatcher route, her Ambassador-at-Large, Happy Minwala, has been negotiating happily and willy-nilly with investment banks (Rothschilds in particular) along with other consultancy firms in the UK to devise ways and means to accomplish such an eventuality. On the other hand, Raja Shahid Zafar, Federal Minister of State for Production, has uncovered a series of initiatives in the public sector which must have been some time in the works and could not have been plucked out of thin air. It would be interesting to note where the money is going to come from, rich Arab uncles are running scarce (and scared) these days!