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Politics & Policy

Pervez Musharraf highlights the achievements


Politics & Piolicy 

He has been successful in rebuilding a relationship of trust with the people

By Syed M. Aslam
Oct 16 - 22, 2000

"Honest, direct and upfront with the people of Pakistan and the world at large, without fear or favour," this was how the Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf described his government at a press conference in Lahore two days prior to the completion of the first year in office.

Listing the achievements of his government during its first year, the Chief Executive said that it has been successful in rebuilding a relationship of trust with the people as well as enforcing a strict code of conduct of ethics for the holders of public office. He also said that macro-level corruption has been rooted-out and the general loot and plunder in the government organisations has been stopped. For the first time the process of completely impartial and even-handed accountability has been initiated and it is continuing without any pressure from any quarter.

He also said that his government has facilitated freedom of speech to an unprecedented level by supporting and strengthening a free and independent press and will continue to do so in the future.

The Chief Executive said the government is, and has never, considered restoring the suspended assemblies and said that it will hold the elections for provincial and national assemblies in 2002 after the completion of local bodies elections, the first phase of which will be held in 31 districts on December 31.

He dismissed the assertions by political parties that his proposed local government system was unworkable as 'mere nonsense' and blamed them for keeping the people away from election in the past, tacitly hinting at the dis-satisfaction of the people with the political process resulting in decreased voter turnover in general elections over the years.

Despite expressing his dis-satisfaction at the slow pace of the accountability he however said that the NAB (National Accountability Bureau) has recovered Rs 25.5 billion and settled cases of an additional Rs 35-40 billion. In addition, cases against 161 politicians, 132 bureaucrats and 6 army personnel were still pending, he added.

Rejecting the suggestion that Pakistan stands isolated in the comity of nations today he said that its relations with such countries as Iran and Egypt had been improved while that with EU and UK have been stabilised. The relations with China and the countries in the Middle East were already very close, he added.

Furthermore, he said the Kashmir issue had been projected at the international level and Pakistan's efforts have made it possible for countries such as the US, Russia and UK to deal directly with Afghanistan.

He also told reporters that the GDP registered a growth of 4.8 per cent in 1999-2000 compared to 3.1 per cent the previous year while the volume of foreign private investment increased from $ 450 million to $ 543 during the same period. In addition, the revenue collection in the initial months of the current fiscal registered a 17 per cent increase over the comparative period last year to help achieve the revenue target of Rs 435.7 billion this fiscal.

The achievements highlighted by the Chief Executive during his first year in office should be compared to the realities for the people, the majority of which welcomed the take-over last October. The silence reflected the support for the change expecting ruthless accountability, relief from the rising cost of living, shrinking purchasing power, soaring inflation, and corruption at all levels. A year later only a portion of these expectations have been materialised.

The middle and low-income group, particularly the salaried class, have witnessed a sharp increase in prices of all essential and no-essential items. The price of petroleum and products have been increased numerous times including one that was announced a couple of days prior to the announcement of decrease by the OPEC countries. The much promised quarterly revision of petroleum prices has failed to pass off any benefit of reduction in international prices. The prices of furnace oil alone registered an increase of over 80 per cent between September 23, 1999 to September 27 this year.

The prices of such basic utilities as electricity have also been increased number of times and so is the price of gas. The sharp increase in prices of essential items along with the incessant increase in the prices of utilities shattered personal budgets in an economy reeling from low per capita income and official salaries.

News media is full of reports highlighting prices of essential and non-essential items gone awry. There is no dearth of those lamenting the tremendous increase in the cost of living at a great inconvenience to the honest and hardworking people who lend a silent but forceful welcome to the Pervez Musharraf government for the much needed relief. It is just not enough to stabilise the prices. It is also imperative to ensure that they match the purchasing power of the people.