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Power Play

This week saw the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) plummet by record levels because of the HUBCO crisis, the Government of Pakistan (GoP) having filed various criminal charges against the management. Subsequently GoP went ahead and cancelled the power contracts of HUBCO and Kot Adu Power Company (KAPCO), with National Power Company of UK playing a prominent role in the management of both. The ongoing negotiations with IMF may be affected, foreign direct investment may be a long-term casualty. A great majority of professionals, particularly in the financial field are decrying the heavy-handed tactics of GoP, led in this case by Senator Saifur Rahman of the Ehtesab Bureau (EB). Their contention is that the tough tactics mechanism of using FIA and police will deter foreigners from any financial commitment to Pakistan. On the other hand GoP seems to have done its homework in being confident about applying the stick rather heavily, HUBCO seems to have been a roller-coaster profit ride based on amendments contrary to the spirit and content of the original contract. These additional clauses gave them windfall profits, allowing HUBCO’s sponsors to recover their entire equity in less than a year’s time, a “miraculous achievement” even in terms of capitalism gone crazy. That certainly must arouse suspicion if not outright doubt as to the integrity of the entire process.