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Asif Zardari

150 HRS TO A NEW DAWN?

Though the usual feudal modus operandi for obtaining votes, particularly in the rural areas, is through outright coercion and/or intimidation, it also depends upon who counts the vote, and even more importantly, who gets to collate it. With rigging/tampering with ballot and ballot boxes fairly widespread in 2008 and 2013, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) must be given credit for taking effective steps for minimizing electoral fraud of various kinds.

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WRITING ON THE WALL

Even a cursory analysis of the three Nawaz Sharif sackings as PM reveals one constant sordid fact, his incurring penchant to listen to a bunch of “unelectable advisors” who constantly feed his already inflated ego about his supposed omni-potency. The 1993 sacking did him wonders, turning an Establishment “puppet on the throne” into a politician of some standing in his own right. In the second sacking in 1999 the Army swiftly countered Nawaz’s civilian coup, the Punjab CM brother Shahbaz Sharif was put into handcuffs lost out for no fault of his own. Shahbaz survived the last sacking in 2017 a year ago, giving the workaholic a unique opportunity to show off his development projects, mostly in Lahore, and shrug of Nawaz’s charismatic giant shadow to lead a political life of his own. Maryam had nothing to do with Nawaz’s second sacking, everything to do with his third.

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The Acid Test of Disinvestment

In the face of one of the most far reaching economic decisions of the last two decades, that of allowing commercial banks in the private sector, the Nawaz Sharif Government has simultaneously decided to go whole hog for disinvesting the Nationalised Commercial Banks (NCBs), using Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB) as the guinea pig. Leaders of Third World countries are known to usually try and search for windmills off the beaten track to tilt against, another sorry example of negating an excellent decision by a bad one. The NCBs must compete in a free financial market atmosphere and if they fail to stand the heat, to die a natural death by themselves. Given that Mr. Sartaj Aziz has stated that a comprehensive economic reform package revolutionizing Pakistan’s economy would be announced in 6-8 weeks, this unholy, unseemly rush to offload a commercially viable NCB from public sector aegis becomes more mystifying, to say the least.

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