Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bhutto's assassination: who were the Brutuses and Mark Antonyes?

Ever since I have heard the news of late Ms. Bhutto's assassination, I have been puzzled as to why in the world she would expose herself to danger by coming out of the roof of her vehicle? This is a million and a half dollar question.

BB understood the risks. She understood the danger and she took all the precautions. She was not naive, she was intelligent. How could she be so naive to fall victim to such an amateurish plot to assassinate her?

The plot was quite simple as it appears from the media reports: make her feel good by a successful day, relax her, let her come out of the rally feeling relieved, stop her by gathering pretending PPP workers pleading for her to come out of the car, and if she comes out attack her.

The question is: was there a Brutus within her vehicle who convinced or urged a reluctant and fearful Bhutto to stand up in the vehicle?

I am willing to bet my life that there was.

So who was it?

We know who were in the car: Naheed Khan, Amin Fahim, a security expert and the driver?

So who was it? Who took Caesar to his death? There are witnesses. We can ask them. Who was susceptible to the lure and greed for money and power? What conversation took place in the vehicle before Bhutto stood up?

Brutus might have thought that he or she will be the beneficiary of Caesar's death, but not to be and Mark Antony took the benefit. Will our Brutus meet the same fate? I guess he or she will.

The Mark Antony will emerge soon. Make a speech of a demagogue and then lead the PPP to the elections.

Will the masses accept that that non-royal Mark Antony as their new leader is a moot question.

I have my doubts.

The royals are well advised to take care!

Friday, December 28, 2007

The King is dead, long live the King: Do not boycott or cancel the elections

In the history of nations there are some defining moments. The murder of Ms. Benazir Bhutto has landed us at one! With her murder, we as a nation have been shocked to our core. We have been through the worst of times. Now, my dear friends is the test of our steadfastness and resolve. Humans no matter whom are mortal. Leaders come and go. The test of the nation is how they survive their departures.

There will be those who will advocate the boycotting or the postponement of the January elections as a protest against the assassination of Ms. Bhutto. That will be a folly.

We must hold the elections and let the system work. Let us put our trust in the people in this grave crisis.

If there are elections' boycott or if the elections are postponed then it will only create opportunities for more chaos and allow the powers that be to fuel the fire even more.

Lets hold our nerve and do the unthinkable. Lets have the elections. The PPP knows what its leader stood for. Her policies and priorities are all known. They should immediately elect a new leader and contest the elections on the agenda set by their ex-leader.

The PPP has done its homework and is ready. It was BB's decision to contest the elections. Even she would not have allowed her party to boycott the elections. Let us honour her memory by taking part in her most cherished ideal, namely the political process.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Should we mourn Shaukat Aziz?

It has become fashionable to discredit the Ex-PM Shaukat Aziz and his policies. Towards the end of his tenure he was accused of being the central player in all the scandals that hit the Federal and Provincial governments. These accusations included, inter alia:

(1) the privatisation of the steel mill;
(2) the stock market crashes;
(3) the flour prices;
(4) the judicial crisis;
(5) the sugar scandal;
(6) the cement prices rise; and
(7) the backing of the highly profitable banking cartels.

Now those who understand economics know that all the above economic issues are linked with world economy, rise in energy cost, the fast pace of development, the increase in money supply and the principle of the demand and supply. And, for those who understand politics, it is clear that the Shaukat Aziz was made a scapegoat in the judicial crises. He did not benefit an iota from the judicial crises.

It seems there was a character assassination campaign against him. Perhaps it was his own party leaders which wanted him to be discredited and thus replacing him with one of their kin.

Thus, no one, is speaking of his merits. The recovery of economy and the increase in the pace of development, the emergence of a strong banking sector, independence of regulatory authorities, the rise in the investment in stocks and the real sector, low interest rates (in the early part of his tenure as finance minister), the privatisation of poor performing government owned industrial and service sector units and the rest are not mentioned to the credit of our banker-Prime Minister. And if any credit is due, it is either taken by the President Musharraf or the consequences of the 9/11.

At the time of his swearing in as the Prime Minister, I welcomed it and termed it as a best thing that could have happened to Pakistan in the given circumstances. Shaukat Aziz was educated, civilised, rational, without any misplaced ego clothed as political agenda, without any notion of vendetta, without any taste for the politics of thana and kutchery, without a flair for demagogy, credible, honest, upright, and above all competent.

He presided over Pakistan's best economic period. He presided over the most politically stable period in recent history. He took the insults and the blames, where they were not due. He kept his cool amidst all the crises and conspiracies. He gave the people the economic power. With the improvements in banking and availability of the credit to all the ex-PM brought about a small revolution for the would be entrepreneurs. His legacy is credibility, a robust economy and rationality in politics.

Given the current contenders for the slot of Prime Minister, I mourn for the departure of Shaukat Aziz. With him goes rationality, civilised manners, enlightened economic management, out of the window.

The PML(Q) has a made a colossal mistake in giving short shrift to the their previous Prime Minister. If anyone was believable amongst them, it was Shaukat Aziz. He was someone that could be trusted by the voters. It was his right to lead the PML(Q) in the 2008 elections on the basis of his management and performance.

All the good done in the last eight years was represented by the person of Shaukat Aziz. His departure and absence from the political scene should be mourned by all of us. He was without doubt the most successful Prime Minister of Pakistan.

It is unfortunate that the ruthless politics and his gentlemanly behaviour have taken its toll and I am sure the Pakistanis will suffer by his absence.

I have one message for Shaukat Aziz: do not leave the field of politics, there is a place for civility, rationality, integrity, honesty and above all credibility!