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POLITICS & POLICY 1- 3 YEARS OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
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THREE YEARS OF REFORMS AND GOOD GOVERNANCE

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President Musharraf's government was thus confronted with formidable challenges, both internal and external

 

From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
Islamabad

Oct 21 - 27, 2002

 

On the eve of general elections in the country on Oct. 10, 2002 all national dailies contained a paid supplement titled as years (1999-2002) of reforms and good governance which explained the chaotic conditions under which President Musharraf took over and how, through his sincere and sustained efforts he has been able to bring about a significant improvement in every sphere of national activities.

On economic front it claimed a complete turn around. The country which was on the verge of default and described as a failed state by our detractors in 1999 is now blessed with a historic reserves of over 8.5 billion US dollars after meeting all its liabilities and has won a position of respect in the comity of nations.

It was reported late last month that Musharraf government was preparing a white paper which will point out the conditions prevailing in Pakistan before Oct. 12, 1999 carrying out the seven point programme specified by the President and military government achievement, during the past 3 years. The paper which was compiled by a committee headed by the cabinet secretary and comprising Secretaries of Information and Economic Affairs was to be released, after its final approval by the President, with a big fanfare, later however, it was considered advisable to release it quietly to the press and ensure its full publication by leading national dailies on payment.

The "paper" claimed that on October 12, 1999, the military intervened to pull the nation out from a grave crisis, one that threatened the very foundations of the state. But staring the new leadership in the face was a huge wreckage, the work of the past decade and plus of "elected" rule, a period euphemistically described by very many as a "wasted decade".

Wreckage littered all around. No sphere of national life had escaped Annihilation State institutions had been bludgeoned into ineffectiveness, political interference in official functioning had become a routine and the bureaucracy was politicised and pulverized."

The national economy was in a shambles, lurching from one crisis to another, due mainly to weak macroeconomic management, lack of commitment to difficult structural reforms, freewheeling decision making and rampant corruption; National debt had soared to worrying heights. Default was threatening the nation all the time. Yet, populism and pork-barrel had come to sway the economic field as much as had corruption and sleaze. Unpopular but indispensable difficult reforms were avoided like plague.

Nepotism, cronyism and favouritism had been ennobled into honoured traits, merit, honesty and transparency were demeaned into a taboo. In the guise of privatization, the family silver was doled out to favourite cronies and hangers-on. Financial institutions had become tools of political patronage and profit. Stories of corruption in high places were making waves at home and abroad alike, grievously tarnishing the image of this nation in the world's eye. So much so, globally respected moral watchdog Transparency International at one time ranked Pakistan as the world's second most corrupt country.

Externally, because of this dismal domestic predicament, Pakistan was getting increasingly isolated amidst the fear that it could become a parish state. The country's options had been drastically constricted to conduct a foreign policy in keeping with the national interest.

President Musharraf's government was thus confronted with formidable challenges, both internal and external. And none was amenable to a quick fix; all required a sustained, systematic and painstaking effort to face up to them. It took up the challenge in right earnest. And, arguably, it has reversed the nation from the suffocating darkness of despair to the enlivening light of hope.

Recounting its achievements in the economic field the paper said that despite various exogenous shocks of extraordinary nature such as the persistence of catastrophic drought, the aftermath of September 11 episode and India's border standoff, economy has turned around, making progress during the last three years. Pakistan's economic situation has stabilized; sanity is brought back in economic policy; confidence of the private sector has been restored Nobody talks of default; nor any one now calls Pakistan a failed state.

The paper also recounts the present government reforms and development increase in the field of education, health, human resource development, poverty alleviation, public welfare creating safe socially by combating terrorism policy and reform and rebuilding state institutions, curbing corruption and improving inter provincial harmony.