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Archive for September, 1989

Solidarity with China

The resilience of the Chinese nation is amazing, the depth in its leadership even more so. About a 100 odd days since the unfortunate events of Tienanmen Square, China is for all purposes back on the rails of progressive reform, normalcy of sorts having returned to Beijing within weeks of the worst cataclysm to effect China, at least in full media view, since the inception of the Peoples Republic. To those of China’s friends who have been understandably nervous about the events leading upto June 1989, the fact that business as usual has returned to the affairs of the State is exceedingly welcome. The video footage of happenings in May and June 1989 — and the fantastic speculation by the foreign media, had dismayed China’s true friends.

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The economics of effective deterrence

Third world countries with perennial debt problems have to make inordinate economic sacrifices to maintain large defence forces in adequate numbers. In the face of India’s obvious hegemonistic ambitions there remains a continuing need to maintain a credible deterrent to counter Indian designs. One of the surest methods to dampen Indian ambitions is to make their political leadership acutely aware of the cost of a war with Pakistan. While it is imperative that our Defence Forces continuously train for war, the assessment of their abilities during training leads to a correct picture of their potential capabilities during war, without doubt the only way to prevent war is to ensure adventurism is overtaken by caution. The message of Gen Mirza Aslam Beg is very clear, in the face of Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent freeing of our forces in defensive posture therein, a substantial segment of the Pakistan Defence Forces have now become our strategic reserves, providing for adequate forces at the Army level to be available for offensive operations, perhaps even a pre-emptive strike.

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A princess at bay

The recent increase of electricity rates has long been expected, that it did not come about during the last Federal Budget was not surprising considering the political imperatives at that time but it was only delaying the inevitable. While one may find it fashionable to criticise the Federal Government for buckling down under IMF pressure, it would be madness to suggest that any government would have been able to resist the conditionalities necessary for obtaining the relatively cost free funds available from the IMF, particularly in view of the need for refurbishing the sorely neglected infrastructure of the state inasfar as people’s comforts are concerned. That Ms Benazir’s Government has been able to fend IMF off for 270 days is credit-worthy on both the sides, obviously playing-safe filibustering by the Government and a mature restraint on the part of IMF to give the new administration some breathing time. The events of Venezuela and Jordan were afresh in the mind and the IMF wisely did not want to rock the boat of Ms Benazir’s fledgling democracy.

Any time that any of the utility rates are raised, there is bound to be inflation, the truth about the quantum is submerged somewhere in the gray area between the propaganda machinery of the government and the tantrums of the opposition, both honourable positions for political adversaries to follow as long as they do not resort to extreme measures, meaning that the hue and cry should be contained within the reasonable parameters of debate and does not lead to bloodletting in the streets.

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Gulf-created economic crisis

Saddam Hussain’s invasion of Kuwait took less than 24 hours, Iraq’s military “feat of arms” against a vastly inferior opponent could not envisage the many months (and even years) of economic crisis that the Middle East would be thrust in or would affect the world. One of the greatest favours that President Ishaq may have done for the previous Government is that by throwing them out of power they have absolved them of the ensuing economic crisis, leaving Prime Minister Mustafa Jatoi holding a mixed economic bag, all the rabbits are sitting up on the hill laughing their heads off, the price of democracy and power politics thereof.

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