RAIS AHMAD KHAN
Moody’s Report on Friday, June 13, on Pakistan’s chances to attract or retain foreign investments being dim, comes as no surprise. The conditions here hardly evoke confidence in the government’s ability to control events that are externally generated, by themselves. All countries on earth, including the oil producers, are feeling the pinch of oil price surge, mounting inflation, weakening US dollar, and looming recession.
It will be foolish to expect Pakistan to remain immune to these external conflagrations, leave aside the domestic problems. How outsiders feel about it is probably more subdued than the outbursts on the domestic fronts, and no wonder. For more than six months now, these columns have carried dire warnings, as well as precepts to absorb the shocks. Regrettably, the leadership’s agenda does not seem to be geared to address the looming disasters. Rather, they are more interested in non-issues or personal vendettas. Furthermore, the media too seems to be pre-occupied with events that do not interest the common men, engrossed with problems for the daily bread to the exclusion of every thing else.
How long can the present leadership ignore these basic concerns of the people at large, and pursue their personal agenda, is a moot question, but the larger national interests demand a quick solution to all matters of public interest. Then only can we hope for a relatively settled and calm atmosphere in the country and its business environment, attractive enough for foreign investors. Right now the position is just the reverse – frightful for even those who are already here and justifiably wish to pull out.
A look at the dwindling forex reserves and the negative FDI figures will prove our contention. Moody’s have made a fair assessment and fudging figures to disprove them (as reportedly done in the past) is not going to help.
A candid and forthright admission of the problems and a sincere unflagging effort to overcome them with courage and determination will carry the true stamp of great leadership.
The question arises – are there any solutions? Yes, there are, but they require thinking out of the box, and quite different from the hackneyed bureaucratic approach. A people’s government in a democratic set-up should not kow-tow to the civil servants. The latter should be made to realise what they are:- servants of the people and not rulers over them.
If such a leadership emerges and asserts itself, it can win the hearts and minds of the common people – body and soul – and overcome seemingly insurmountable difficulties. Then only can we raise our head and challenge the world to come and see themselves a conducive climate for investment in Pakistan, and make Moody’s eat their words.
Source: Business Recorder, 17/6/2008