“Invest in Pakistan to save it (and yourself) from terrorism”
President General Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday called upon investors from all over the world to do so in Pakistan as a contribution towards the war this country currently engaged in against poverty, extremism and terrorism.
â€œI would say to all the traders and investors, domestic as well as from abroad, that by investing here you would be contributing directly and indirectly in the war against extremism and terrorism,â€[DT]
The war on terrorism, for General Musharraf at least, has been a godsend. He has sought (and largely received) international debt relief, American development aid, F-16 airplanes, and the world’s intervention in disputes such as Palestine and Kashmir — all in the name of action in the war against terrorism.
And addressing a trade exhibition, he is now seeking foreign investment as part of Pakistan’s wages in the war against terrorism . The world, it appears, owes him a living.
Both Musharraf’s attitude and his contention are wrong. While the international community has a stake in ridding Pakistan of jihadis and terrorists, Musharraf’s own performance leaves the world to be desired. Indeed, apart from perpetuating his person on the country, Musharraf himself has done nothing substantial to cleanse Pakistan of its entrenched jihadi element. Democracy, education and social reforms, and action against religious extremists remain the stuff of speeches, although it has been more than three years since the advent of the post 9/11 Musharraf.
His contention is wrong because poverty does not cause terrorism. Foreign investment can help bring about economic development, but until there is a thorough reform of the education system, it will only serve to increase the constituency of have-nots — of religiously radicalised, unemployable kind. Coupled as it is with a lack of democracy and the Pakistani army’s need for cheap, dispensible and disownable foot-soldiers, the jihadi threat is unlikely to disappear just because of foreign investors. And even as Musharraf was assuring investors that their investment will be safe, the lights were going off yet again in several parts of Pakistan. Its recent macro-economic performance, on the back of unprecedented international financial support, may even have given a false sense of well-being to its leaders; real challenges remain unaddressed.
Far too many wagons have been hitched on to the terrorism engine. And as far as Musharraf is concerned, nothing really is his own fault.