Politics & Policy
Musharraf highlights the achievements
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
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.