Few takers for Pakistan’s pitch to become an ‘investor’s paradise’
We are re-branding Pakistan to reflect its true value and potential to the world as it is set to attain a growth rate of eight per cent during the next three years as against 7 per cent today and 6.4 per cent of last year [Shaukat Aziz/Dawn]
Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan’s prime minister, was suave and persuasive, even if he sounded like an investor relations boilerplate. Gen Musharraf, though, beat his only drum. But what of Pakistan’s recent attempts to pitch itself as an attractive destination for FDI — as the once venerable London Times headlined, is Pakistan taking on China and India?
As Musharraf’s prime minister and finance minister, Shaukat Aziz has done a decent job; Pakistan is no longer in danger of defaulting on its external debt, and has a believable economic reform story going. Pakistan’s macro-economic performance is therefore not in question. But Musharraf would like to use his stewardship of the economy to bolster his political legitimacy, somewhat in the style of the Communist Party of China, and that is where he runs into trouble.
Shafqat Mehmood argues that most of the stuff coming out of the Pakistani government is spin, worse, it is for domestic consumption. Kamran Shafi takes Shaukat Aziz to task for putting the gloss over the failure of Pakistan’s dictators to put American aid to good use, pointing out that during the entire course of General Zia ul Haq’s eleven year rule, not a single kilowatt was added to Pakistan’s power infrastructure. Farrukh Saleem argues that in spite of the government’s messaging, its actions show that Pakistan’s is first a ‘security state’.
Quite clearly, Musharraf’s attempt to use the economy to his bolster his position is finding few takers inside Pakistan; worse, it isthreatening to undermine the reforms put together by Shaukat Aziz and team under World Bank and IMF guidance, not least because those critics may not be far off even objectively.
Tailpiece. Shaukat Aziz told delegates at a Karachi expo that Pakistan is ‘a futuristic state’. Now what is that supposed to mean, really?