In Rearview Mirror and the Windshield:
By Tanvir Ahmed Siddiqui
There is quite a famous saying that tells us to “Look at life through windshield and not through rear view mirror’. But unfortunately when there is nothing much to view through the windshield you are left with nothing else but to keep on looking and staring at the rear view mirror. At the verge of next Elections the country today still stranded at the same square of uncertainty that prevailed the then pre-election 2008. Thereafter that internationally designed and arranged so called ceremonial exit of Mr. Mushurruf and transfer of his powers to that NROised machinery of total incompetence that could not make us move even an inch to break the nuisance cycle of chaos and uncertainty. All these yrs because of all good and bad reasons we could not set ourselves free from clutches of our misfortunes, mishaps and misdeeds out of multiple events.
Through the rear view mirror let me again take you back to those days of extensive regime of Gen. Mushurruf. which did have considerably the days when our economy was said to be comparatively much better than what it is today. But in my humble opinion of a layman and ordinary citizen of this sad land, let me assert that the bubble like Economic boom of those days had really nothing much to do with Policies and competence of the governance of Mr. Mushurruf. Although it was of course a unique opportunity of its kind that may never come again like a windfall in our laps. But because of some vested interests and intents or because of the lack of competence of that set of stalwarts of Mr. Mushurruf that opportunity slipped from our hands like a golden fish a fish that could really turn into a fairy to change our fortunes for good. In the make of 9/11 renewed ties with Washington (especially out of that controversial midnight phone call) pushed in substantial air to blow the bubble of our economy. Even before the realization of that notorious 10Billion Dollars US military economic assistance which started to flow in, our western allies wrote off Billion of Dollars of debt which no-doubt helped bring the weak & meek economy to a greater strength. In the aftermath of 9/11 many rich expatriates in US and Europe who had parked their wealth in foreign banks began investing back in their homeland‘s capital market and their new strategy was not really irrational. After nine eleven many Muslims in US and West started facing serious Govt Scrutiny. Suddenly that enthusiasm of hit & run investment back home in Stocks and Real State picked up as a much more attractive & lucrative sport for overnight money multiplications and additions. This aromatic blend of Foreign Aid + Loans Write off + Stocks investment + Foreign Remittances together buoyed our Economy to the level of considerable strength.
Yet Mr. Mushurruf’s so called professional but capricious machinery of money managers never used that most appropriate windfall kind of God given opportunity to address the country’s endemic underlying problems. As like today, tax receipts in those days despite absolute power of Govt, continued to remain at lowest ebb due to continued vested interests, reluctance and hesitation to crack down on powerful mainstream business players and giant landlords mainly because of political considerations and fears.
This shear neglect and non-seriousness of proper investments in real infrastructure of our country like agriculture inputs, water conservation projects for energy & power sectors, almost strangled the growth of economy to adding more and more miseries in lives and livelihood of commoners and ordinaries of this country. This incompetence and negligence of so called team of economic professionals of those days made the richs richie-rich and the poor like worms and slum dogs on extensive heaps and mounts of garbage throughout the country. Economic and financial policies of his so called the most professional economic master Mr. Shaukat Aziz merely evolved around converting Pakistan’s Agriculture based economy into a Trading and consumer based economy. Affluently liberal, disorganized, and rather unchecked functioning of Consumer Financing particularly by private and foreign banks and financial institutions at artificial markup rate though was a major source of historical incremental profits but could did not at all help to strengthen and sustain real foundations of our economy on solid grounds. Instead of real economics measuring indicators like unemployment rate, consumer pricing index, rate of inflation, growth of industrial production, GPD, industrial machinery imports and the figures of our agriculture and textile exports, the quantum sales of Cell phones, domestic appliances, automobiles, personal loans, mortgages and such non-productive and non-development items were widely propagated as the Indicators of our national economy.
Their was no strategy and contingency planning to counter local and international threats, influences and challenges to our economy. Global Oil prices began to climb and Pakistan’s treasury faced a dramatic and drastic outflow of funds for settlements of oil bills in hard cash. The sky rise in global food prices further jolted the economy into tailspin. Confidence in Pak Rs started tumbling down-hill resultantly making imports more and more expensive and our exports more and more non-competitive in international market that resulted into imports & exports deficit out of scale. Foreign investors out of their keen observations took serious note of non-serious approach of our economic managers and growing flaws in their policies , decided to divert the interests of their investments towards more secure and safer destinations.
Highly controversial, self centered, reactionary and rather vengeful decisions of Genl. Mushurruf specially at last leg of his rule impacted with never ending miseries specially on the lives and living of commoners and ordinaries of this country. Simultaneous crackdown on Judiciary & media under rules of emergency , the assassination of Nuwab Akber Bugti in Baluchistan and of BB at the national horizon are jolts so intense that cracked the walls of our national unity and cohesion which remain irreparable even today.
On this deserted field of cactus and mess spread all over the country that international arrangement of Mushruff’s NROised based safe exit and transfer of absolute power and prerogatives to yet another highly controversial machinery of incompetents further enhanced the level of dejection, disappointment and mistrust between state and nation. Thereafter that continued series of melodramatic episodes full of natural and manufactured disasters, insurgencies, general disturbances, strikes & riots and above all the continued domination and stronghold of absolutely incompetent and corrupt elements particularly on treasury benches are parts of our prolonged nightmare. Moreover our continued useless involvement into this so called fight against terrorism and continued foreign interventions and intrusions of all these years into our sovereignty keeping our country under arrest in the same prison of uncertainty.
Now again at the verge of new elections we are on vehicle stranded on flat wheels and its windshield is smeared and smudged with thick layers of bird drops. In view of such a poor and disappointing performance of our civil and military rulers and their bureaucratic machinery especially in the last fifteen consecutive years there is of course a genuine sense of outright rejection on hope and scope from the results of new elections. More or less every intellectual from within and across all sections of our society is desperately looking out for a Peaceful Revolution under fear at the same time with the real bloody revolution. Now after decades of repeated Military regimes every time in the name of peaceful revolution I am yet to find out the real definition of a peaceful, fruitful and blissful revolution specially for the poor, downtrodden and ordinaries of our country. But in this age of indifference ness expecting a team of angles and messiahs out of any kind of revolution to my opinion is not a wisdom but a wishful thinking. Despite all imperfections and heart rendering failures of politicians we still have no choice but to find and look for the remedy and cure of our every illness from within the same system of change whether we like it or not. Therefore out of forthcoming elections we have no choice and alternate but to keep on dreaming for a new and fresh service team with honest sincere and dedicated intents and efforts for complete restoration of our national vehicle which strands hanging at the cliff.