A Guest Post by Majyd Aziz
The Doomsday theorists and the ignorant anti-American elements in Pakistan have become over-active after the showdown in Abbottabad. Suddenly, they are back into action with their I-told-you-so rabble rousing posture and are trying to galvanize the citizens into a universal condemnation of not only Washington but also the civilian leadership and the military hierarchy of the country. President Obama is being considered as a re-incarnate of the younger Bush while all hell is being let loose on the two well-protected high rollers safely ensconced in Islamabad. The brave among this inciting crowd, all the more fortified by the drawing room analysts and pseudo-democrats, are out to get the scalps of the two Generals who had their tenures extended.
The Formation Commanders made the right noises by warning the White House, in fact, warning the world not to attempt such an adventure again inside Pakistan’s territory. There was the usual talk about ending the drone "culture", reduction in the number of Americans moving all over this nation, and threatening to "review" cooperation between Pentagon and Rawalpindi. Hallelujah. It reminds one of the classic Peter Sellers’ movie The Mouse That Roared. It may play well in maybe Gujranwala.
However, what is missing in all this wailing and blaming is that no one has seriously considered the impact this draconian adventure would have on Pakistan’s tottering economy. Come next fiscal year, there is going to be a fundamental shift in the nation’s budget planning and revenue expectations. The Finance Minister and his jolly band went to IMF with a structured begging bowl but the high priests sitting in the citadel of this institution showed them unusual courtesy by escorting them out the exit door sans any largesse. State Bank of Pakistan big boys have put their hands up in desperation that inflation is still an uncontrolled albatross around the economy. The euphoria in Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and in the minds of less knowledgeable spin-doctors of the ruling party that the export figures would be at all-time high, based on the extraordinary performance of the raw cotton and spinning sector is fizzling out sooner than expected. Half of the spinning mills are switching off their machines because all of a sudden the global demand went poof.
The Finance Ministry officials transformed the Ministry from a being a facilitator to trade and industry by playing their own version of contract bridge by considering themselves as "us" and the businessmen as "they". When there was genuine opposition to the introduction of the macabre Reformed General Sales Tax, some hare-brained official came out with the asinine proposal to get the country’s President to issue three Ordinances as part of the Plan ‘B’ conjured up by minions in Federal Board of Revenue. Lo and behold. The trade and industry representatives got these officials on the carpet and within no time, the Ordinances became stale jokes.
The Federal Budget is due on May 28 and the energetic but elusive Finance Minister will again attempt to teach the Parliamentarians a lesson or two in Economics 101. He has already received a bagful of help from the Presidency who outmaneuvered seasoned politicians and got them to do the tango with him. The budget would be approved but at what cost? Is the country ready to bear the ramifications of what the good Senator Doctor Sheikh has in store for the 175 million denizens? Would it be an ingenious financial vision or would it be dictated orders from IMF and other International Finance Institutions? The answer would be certain when the dust clears on the last Saturday of this month.
Should one recount what is happening on the physical infrastructure scene? Very casually and without fanfare, the nation is now short of 7000 mw of power. Very brazenly, the natural gas people unilaterally decree that gas would not be available for industries and CNG Stations. Those who decide at what cost Pakistanis would get petrol ritualistically but forcefully announce that petrol, diesel, and other petroleum products would now cost an arm and a leg.
The reason why this economic picture is being presented is to bring to the fore the very fact that the OBL episode has come at a very delicate time for Pakistan. The billions spent on the Global War on Terror by this cash-starved nation, the fabulous military victories in eliminating terrorists and extremists from the wild, wild north of the country, and the confidence reposed in the valiant forces by Pakistanis have suddenly burst like a pin pricked balloon. The general feeling was that in spite of the difficulties people faced on the economic front, it was essential and crucial that the Armed Forces were provided with everything to protect and secure the borders and the strategic assets.
This confidence in the Armed Forces must not be allowed to wane. Pakistanis must continue to support and encourage the brave forces. The entire Defense establishment must learn whatever lessons it has to learn and must carry forward. Demagogues and Fifth Columnists must be ignored and should not be given prominence by the electronic and print media.
There should not be despondency and blame-game either within the forces or among the politicians. Dejection at this stage will ruin the country by hampering its economic progress. This is the time for all decision makers to sit with the mainstream businessmen and industrialists to get the country out of this economic quagmire. The Pakistan Business Council attempted to get the politicians to sit with them at the same table and discuss the economic agenda. A noble step, but it did not create any waves because mainstream trade and industry representatives were excluded while third or fourth tier nominees from the political parties came to Serena in Islamabad to make the usual pompous statements. (Incidentally, this writer had proposed such an All-Parties Conference while taking part in a PTV program hosted by Dr Huma Baqai a couple of months back. So, credit to PBC for following it up and spending money to get politicians together).
The impact of the OBL drama would not be as damaging to the country as propagated by many analysts. This is not the time to strain relations with USA and other Western countries. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has offered a comfort zone to Pakistan. Assurances are coming from Foggy Bottom as well as from Capitol Hill that Pakistan would be supported and that Pakistan needs maximum cooperation from Washington. This is the time for the government and even the Armed Forces to ensure that American financial assistance is not squandered away and also that Pakistan should be provided all facilities to procure smart defense technology to continue its frontline role in exterminating terrorists and extremists from this country. Emphasis should be on foreigners who have created havoc by assuming the role of so-called Jihadis. The Saudi Arabian, Sudanese, Egyptian, and the Chechen Jihadi elements must be declared persona non grata and their native countries be forced to take them back.
The recent positive outcome of the talks between the Interior Secretaries of India and Pakistan in New Delhi and the Commerce Secretaries in Islamabad and Bhurban will open new vistas of economic cooperation not only between the two countries but among all SAARC nations. This is a breath of fresh air and the expectations are positive and beneficial for Pakistan. Furthermore, there is expectation of foreign investment not only from India but also from other countries. This is the time to invite massive investment in minerals exploration, in information technology, and in livestock. These would create jobs and pump up the economy.
Pakistan cannot afford to be strangled by the OBL opera. Once lessons are learnt, once accountability has ended, and once the nation’s skies are really made impregnable, the concentration should be on the economy. The most unpatriotic thing a citizen can do at this juncture is to be persistent in carping about the capability and competency of the Armed Forces while at the same time, all those who are neglecting efforts to rejuvenate the economy are guilty of the same crime too. This is the ideal time to say "YES" to the Founder’s motto: Unity, Faith, and Discipline. By the way, what happened to Pakistan First?
Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies.
This article is taken from another source. Views expressed in this article are those of the author and may or may not be the views of From The Pulpit and DiscoMaulvi. To submit content for From The Pulpit, please email FromThePulpit [at] MuhammadAly [dot] Com.
As a Pakistani, the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death brought a mixture of emotions:
Relief – Well that’s one less “problem” to worry about.
Skepticism – Yeah right, he was in Abbottabad! Just how in the whole world was he a stone’s throw from the Military training academy in Kakul and no one knew about it?
Dismay – The claim that he was in Pakistan all these years was true!
Fear – May Allah protect us (the citizens of Pakistan) from the backlash that is surely going to stem from this.
Cynicism – So what if he’s dead? There are many more such monsters out there that will continue to haunt us.
Anger – Why is the Pakistani government / military not issuing any statements about an event in which they obviously participated.
Mistrust – Was Osama Bin Laden really alive all these years? Or was he part of some grand conspiracy? Why did they do a sea burial without showing the body to anyone?
Sadness – A misguided individual died without being able to see the light.
After trying, unsuccessfully, to get my son out of bed to get ready for school, I sat on the bed and checked my email.
The subject “Turn on CNN or whatever news station you listen to” catches my eye!
Seems like the US has Bin Laden’s body. Obama is going to give a speech in a few mins!
A quick channel flip on the TV (sorry Diego, Bin Laden was more important right then). Lo and behold we have the CNN people claiming OBL died last week in a “mansion near Islamabad”. So the next move is to see what my tweeps on Twitter say. And then this post on Osama and whether he’s alive (reproduced below) I wrote back in June 2009 pops up in my head!
Seems like OBL has finally run out of lives. Killed in an operation carried by US Forces in Abbottabad, in an operation inadvertently tweeted by fellow Pakistani Tweeter Sohaib Athar. Well in a way good riddance really, however, the question that leaves to be asked is:
Oh and for the record, to all the media people saying he was killed “near Islamabad”, Abbottabad is not near Islamabad!
Osama Bin Laden, the 25th son of Mohammed Bin Laden, a Saudi billionaire of Yemeni origins, carries a USD 25 Million price tag on his head. Among his alleged claim to fame are being Number One on the FBI Top 10 Most Wanted list, wanted for the bombing of US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya (1998), creating a gaping hole in the skyline of New York City (what is commonly referred to as 9/11), and finding a way to speak from the grave.
Around the end of 2001, OBL was thought to be dead by several governments around the world, including that of George W. Bush. His video released in December 2001 prompted the following comments from CNN Terrorism analyst Peter Bergen:
“This is a man who was clearly not well. I mean, as you see from these pictures here, he’s really, by December he’s looking pretty terrible. But by December, of course, that tape that was aired then, he’s barely moving the left side of his body. So he’s clearly got diabetes. He has low blood pressure. He’s got a wound in his foot. He’s apparently got dialysis … for kidney problems.
I mean, this is a man who has a number of health problems, apart from the fact that anybody running around the Afghan mountains is not going to be in great shape.”
A wounded, almost dying OBL in 2001 revived miraculously and was in the best of health in 2004 (must be that great hospital in Tora Bora or a real life Benjamin Button). Following this, over the years, several people have voiced their belief that OBL was no longer amongst us. Hamid Karzai, Benazir Bhutto, Pervez Musharraf, FBI, and Israeli Intelligence all have publicly stated that OBL is dead.
- 2001 and 2004 – Miraculous cure?
Based on the intelligence and the statements of the above mentioned, it can only be that OBL was conveniently replaced by an actor. Since then he (and his boy Ayman Al-Zawahiri) have a knack of appearing with a new production conveniently coinciding with major events on the US Political calendar. Just last week, a group of friends were discussing how OBL, Mullah Omar, and Zawahiri were missing in action. And this week to coincide with Obama’s maiden trip to the Middle East and Richard Holbrooke’s visit to Pakistan, we see OBL speak up from the dead. How convenient.
- OBL & Zawahiri (in 2001)
What lends credence to the beliefs of many, of OBL now inhabiting a Tora Bora on the other side of the mortality divide, is that the last video of OBL was seen in October 2004 (OBL’s messages) and all subsequent messages from OBL have been audio tapes or videos with a voice over. Thus, it is theorized that the man we now believe to be OBL is in fact an actor. More on this can be found here.
But whether this OBL is the real man, or whether he is a better and more improved version (OBL 2.0 or Osama Bin Elvis as Angelo M. Codevilla refers to him), the question that one should ask is this. Why is it that a man whose head carries a tag of more than USD 25 million has not been found yet? Surely someone out there would be so tempted by that figure. And why can’t the US (or any other country’s intelligence agencies) find OBL? In an era where you can see someone on the street of New York using Google Earth from Antarctica, is it really that hard to find this guy? Or is it just that everyone’s looking in the wrong place? Instead of the mountains of Afghanistan (or even Pakistan as some speculation goes), maybe the US Intelligentsia should be looking for OBL 2.0 in a desert 83 miles from Las Vegas.