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Ardeshir Cowasjee

Half Empty, Half Full

Pakistanis are incurable optimists who are more likely to look at a half empty glass as half full. A few weeks ago our new Finance Minister articulated the same thought at a seminar in Harvard University. Great hope has been vested by the broad masses of the people of Pakistan in the military regime, a “soft” martial law without its usual teeth never before seen in this country and one daresays, in recent history. The aspirations aroused in the people is scary, the military rulers will have to rise beyond themselves to ensure that the great expectations of the masses are not frustrated. In their talent search they will have to reach out for the services of friend and perceived foe alike. In the selection of a dream team to run the country, there is unanimity of views about their competence and integrity. Twelve or so years of democratic rule had driven us into the wilderness without a compass, the incumbent process will only be successful if it takes us back to a meaningful democracy in which all the people will participate as equal partners and not simply become pawns on a giant chessboard. With the economy in such doldrums that even easy credit has no takers, primary focus should be on the economy. However public perception wants accountability in supersession of everything else, an animal urge reminiscent of the feelings of the audience of the Roman Colliseum. Since accountability indirectly will not only force-feed the economy but will also improve law and order, build up the national morale as well as investor confidence, etc accountability (or the lack of it) will be the touchstone of success (or failure) of Gen Pervez Musharraf and his “Young Turks”.