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Archive for August, 2003

A Presidential System?

Graduates of the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) have been Army Chiefs since 1988, they have all been impressive in their own individual right. The first PMA graduate to become COAS, Gen Aslam Beg, could have walked into Presidential office on Aug 17, 1988 but wisely chose to let democracy have its say in Pakistan. Asif Nawaz Janjua would have certainly left his imprint on the nation if his COAS term had not been cut short because of his unfortunate demise. Generally an unsung hero of democracy, Waheed Kakar was a genuine soldier through and through, he must be lauded for (1) putting democracy back on the rails and not succumbing to temptation (2) disengaging the Army from Karachi and (3) reining back the ISI from its deep involvement in Afghanistan to a lesser inter-action, thankfully. Jahangir Karamat could have easily taken over the reins of government a number of times, he was easily the most cerebral among the lot and we expected a lot more than he eventually gave to the Army, unfortunately he was not equipped to deal with court intrigues. His removal (by resignation) gave the then PM Mian Nawaz Sharif a wrong signal, a feeling of political omnipotence. This ultimately brought him to grief on Oct 12, 1999 at the hands of his own appointee Pervez Musharraf when Mian Sahib tried the same “power play” without the finesse of his first civilian “coup”. The present incumbent has been impressive in keeping with the quality of his predecessors. Particularly in the realm of external affairs Pervez Musharraf has been outstanding, deflecting the concentrated fire of the western guns that India had contrived overtime to make Pakistan the target of.


Tackling Corruption

Addressing a conference on “Combating Corruption in the Public and Private Sectors” organized by the Board of Investment (BOI) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in collaboration with “Transparency International – Pakistan”, the President Gen Pervez Musharraf said that strong institutions, a merit-based system and doing away with discretionary powers were the basic ingredients to check corruption. He added that the measures needed to beat corruption included increasing reliance on “e-governance” and reducing of human contact, improving the quality of law enforcement agencies and having an honest, dedicated and correct leadership. One may add that collection and expenditures thereof of public sector funds need constant monitoring but more important is a system of fair accountability, with the severity of the punishment directly proportional not only to the crime but the seniority of the officials/persons who perpetrate the crime. The bigger they are, the harder they must fall.


Re-forming The Uniform

A deal between the Government coalition and the MMA which would turn LFO into a constitutional package is in the offing. Even though the major ARD parties (PPP-P and PML-N) will certainly vote against the proposal, with the support of the MMA, the government has the two-thirds majority to convert the consensus clauses into the laws of the land. The country will take a mass breath of relief, the impasse was a debilitating experience. Showing its contempt for the normal economic indicators Karachi Stock Exchange anticipated the political agreement by breaking the 4000-point barrier, almost a four-fold rise in a couple of years. The have-nots of Pakistan have yet to savour the effects of a whole set of Re-forms meant for their economic amelioration, the fat cats of the Stock Market are laughing all the way to the bank.


Creek City, Bleak City

Breath-taking plans were recently unveiled for real-estate development adjacent to the sea-front falling in the area of Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority (DHA). Decidedly futuristic, extremely visionary and commercially attractive, the “Creek City” project will revolutionize the facade of the metropolitan city of Karachi. Attempting to emulate the real-estate boom in Dubai, the apartments are architecturally beautiful and embody sophisticated high-tech living. Without any doubt, it is a tremendous undertaking. When compared to Dubai the price is high, even then there were about 7000 or so applicants for the 600 plus apartments in the first phase of the 7-phase project. DHA Karachi has already earned Rs.35 million (Rs 5000 of the fees are not refundable) on the initial Rs 1 billion in the kitty (the first phase is worth about Rs 5-6 billion), more than covering the initial costs of planning and advertising the project. With quite a sum left over, DHA should be laughing all the way to the bank.