The country has enormous potential for economic growth, which should not be difficult for him to exploit.



Sep 06 - 12, 2004




















Mr. Shaukat Aziz, has taken over as the 20th Prime Minister of Pakistan in 57 years history of Pakistan. Lauded by almost all for his good work as Finance Minister, it appears highly improbable that he would be able to maintain that level of popularity. That he is going to have a tough time in future was amply clear on the day of his election as Prime Minister that hitherto divided opposition which got united to boycott the PM's election.

There is no doubt that if Shaukat Aziz is allowed to work in peace, he will be able to achieve the goals of economic growth and alleviation of poverty and un-employment which are highly desirable from the point of view of common man. But in the vicious political atmosphere, which has so far persisted in this country, common man has never been a priority. To rule this country you need a political clout. It is where Shaukat Aziz is lacking.

On political front, Mr. Shaukat Aziz, will face the same challenges in the parliament, perhaps more seriously, as Mr. Jamali faced in earlier period of transition. It was not easy even for the cool headed and docile Prime Minister Jamali, who had a political backgrons but not a strong political clout of his own, to keep the necessary grip on the house. It also diverted his attention from hard-core political and economic issue and kept him struggling within the parliament in the face of very hostile and vocal opposition. Coming from a smaller province be lacked the political clout necessary to hold the highly envicious office of the Prime Minister. As a result he got totally dependent on Chaudhries of Gujrat. Sooner the differences between the two, as admitted by Mr. Jamali, himself on a recent press interview grew, he lost his job. Views in this perspective it is be seen how Mr. Shaukat Aziz who does not possess any political roots will get along with President and Chaudhries. It will be a real difficult test for the new Prime Minister and would require superb acumen and skill to go through safety.

Sensing the enormity of the task that faces him, Mr. Aziz has done well to already offer the hand of friendship to those who had not voted for him. His address in the assembly after being elected dwelt on developing a policy of consensus on national issues. His pledge to set new values and traditions by taking along those who offered constructive criticism. He would like to have wide-ranging interaction with the opposition members in the house on important policy issues. What emerges from all this is that the newly elected Prime Minister would prefer to develop consensus on important national issues to strengthen democratic processes.

The new Prime Minister has promised to give to the people a transparent and competent government that would put the country on the path of progress and give precedence to merit and ability. This would, however, require building up an atmosphere where people believe that these promises would be carried out. He emphasized that in order to strengthen the democratic process, the values of tolerance, broad-mindedness and patience will need to be adopted. The people would be given the freedom to develop their capabilities. Mr. Aziz was quite emphatic in spelling out four goals that he had set for his government. These are to project the life and property of the people, uphold their freedom, promote the culture of hard work, ability and merit and involve the people in the march to progress rather than keeping them away from national issues. The government would be kind to the weak but deal firmly with the criminals, the corrupt and the terrorists. The problems of women, children and minorities would receive special attention. He also spoke about tackling the problems of poverty, unemployment and inflation. These words raise the hopes that these problems would be dealt with on a high priority basis.



In his address, the new Prime Minister has come out with his pledge of following an independent foreign policy, promoting and strengthening relations with neighbors, regional and Islamic countries and big world powers. He has also assured the house that national defence would be the top priority of his government and pointed out that Pakistan's nuclear programme was central to our national defence and would not only continue but will be further refined. He emphasized the necessity of continuing the dialogue with India and for a permanent solution of the Kashmir issue. From what the new Prime Minister said on a variety of subjects in his address, he seemed to be laying before the nation his own vision of how he proposes to run the affairs of the government. In this regard, he said he would take the benefit of the President's wisdom and experience who had steered the country out of the most difficult times. For political sagacity and far sightedness, he will seek guidance from Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. This means that the new Prime Minister is a practical person who would like to benefit from rich and innovative ideas in order to translate into reality the vision of good governance, progress and prosperity that he has put before the nation. The real test of the Prime Minister's success would, however, lie in delivering on his pledges and promises to the people.

His promise to carry along the opposition, entertain criticism and get results as quickly as possible point to the beginning of a new chapter in the country's political history. The nation would also expect that the opposition does not take recourse to frequent boycotts but tries to fully participate in parliamentary proceedings and enact new legislation. On the other hand, the new Prime Minister will need to create an atmosphere in which he also has the benefit of a cross section of opinion on different matters that should help him in the enforcement of government policies. On the economic front, the nation rightly expects from him that the country's economy will get a further boost with higher investment inflows and growth. In his term as the finance minister, he has been laying considerable emphasis on infrastructure improvement and social sector development. He had increased the allocations for both of them in the annual budgets he had presented before the nation. His experience in reducing the debt burden will also be of great benefit to the country. The country has enormous potential for economic growth, which should not be difficult for him to exploit.