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Archive for November, 1990

Energy and development

The newly elected government measured upto taking one extremely hard decision within a week of assuming executive power, the raising of fuel prices. No politician could be unaware of the inflationary reaction in the market and the possible resultant anger in the streets. For the elite it may hardly bring down the average lifestyle a peg or two, this unavoidable cruelty has deeply accentuated the economic misery of our masses. How best the effects on the common man may be mitigated is an acid test of the new Government’s functioning ability.

Employment opportunities can be generated by the setting up of new industries, matched by the mobilisation of domestic financial resources. In the face of the Gulf Crisis, we have an urgent necessity for developing indigenous energy resources, electricity becoming particularly important. An economic boom can only happen on a strong foundation of uninterrupted supply of energy, whether from hydel or thermal power is immaterial as long as the import bill does not add up. Pakistan’s oil exploration has generally gathered steady momentum over the years, almost 25% of our present petroleum needs are met through domestic production, efforts must continue relentlessly to increase local quantities. The domestic private sector must be encouraged to invest in oil exploration and production thereof, the public sector is no match for the private sector in the area of enterprise and management as well as mobilising financial resources.

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Challenging the issues

Nawaz Sharif has been elected PM at a particularly difficult economic period, aggravated and complicated by the Gulf Crisis. The journey to becoming the executive head of the government may have been a political obstacle course, incumbent PM has now to apply his entrepreneurial background and experience in taking Pakistan out of its present economic doldrums.

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Bipartisan economic agenda

The democratic will of the people has been manifest in the new elected Government in Pakistan, the greatest priority of the new incumbents is to come to grips with the rapidly deteriorating economic situation. Pragmatic policies and lofty rhetoric about principles adopted by PPP at the outset of their tenure were waylaid at the altar of greed, mostly by those who were in the Party for convenience or by the circumstances of marriage. In sum total the 20 months of the Benazir Government contributed heavily to the economic tailspin that we are in now but we should not become guilty of tarring everything they did with a broad brush. The PPP, to their credit and in utter contrast to their manifesto, had opted for privatisation, knocking out the main prop of their own socialistic order (and ardour). The journey from the theoretical left brought the PPP to somewhere right of the middle and into line with the economic mainstream of the world. By outright abandonment of her father’s economic philosophy, Ms Benazir exposed Z.A.Bhutto’s serious economic mistake of nationalisation. In actual practice though, lip-service rhetoric did not translate into Thatcherite reality. A consensus on economic issues has, however, evolved which will stand the Nawaz Regime in good stead in coalescing national support for its economic initiatives, unless the Opposition decides to go “opposition for the sake of the opposition” route. Ms Benazir showed no magnanimity in victory 20 months ago, uptill now she has shown amazing lack of grace in defeat.

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John Silber, Governor

The voters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will be going to the polls today (Tuesday) to elect a Governor. The time difference of 9 hours will ensure that the results of the election would be known to Pakistanis by breakfast tomorrow on CNN. While the results may not effect the life of Pakistanis as much as our own recent General Elections, there is a definite Pakistani interest in the possible ascendancy of John Silber to the Governor’s Mansion in Boston. The incumbent lame-duck Governor is Michael Dukakis, the Democrat aspirant against Bush for the office of the US President in the elections in 1988. Having lost to Bush, Dukakis went onto a roller coaster downslide in popularity, aggravated by widening budget deficits as well as the more personal problem of his wife’s alcoholism. The Democrat nomination was thus left open to a clutch of Democrats, John Silber, President of Boston University since 1970, 20 years after moving from the State of his birth, Texas, is now the confident aspirant.

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