Zardari brings Italian investors to Pakistan

Bilal Qureshi has contributed another piece for PTH. The views expressed here are those of the author. (RR)

   After a meeting between Pakistan’s President Asif Zardari and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, It was announced that an Italian Delegation led by Italy’s Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi will visit Pakistan sometime this year to explore business and investment opportunities.

President’s spokesman told the media after the meeting that President Zardari had requested Italian Prime Minister to help stabilize Pakistan’s economy by encouraging investment in Pakistan. Italy’s Prime Minister directed Italy’s ambassador in Pakistan to develop an investment framework for Italian businessmen with collaboration with Pakistan’s government and business community.

 For Italian business community, six areas of investment have been identified for further evaluation – energy, marble quarrying and dressing, gemstones, leather value-addition and agriculture.

It seems that president Zardari has made it a mission to encourage investment instead of aid in Pakistan. If you look at Zardari’s performance, his efforts to bring direct business investment in Pakistan from around the globe stand out as the most ambitious and aggressive strategy to rejuvenate Pakistan’s economy. Credit has to be given to Zardari that despite awful law & order situation in Pakistan, he has been able to convince potential investors to explore business opportunities in the country. And if Zardari and the present government are able to complete their term, Pakistan might manage to beat the perpetual cycle of inflation, poverty, and economic stagnation.

 It is often said that Nawaz Sharif was a business friendly leader in Pakistan, but Nawaz Sharif failed to stabilize the economy or attract significant direct investment during his two stints as Pakistan’s Prime Minister. Now, Nawaz Sharif has an opportunity to become a genuine leader and help the current government, especially Asif Ali Zardari to demonstrate to rest of the world that Pakistanis are united and they are serious about welcoming global investment. But, Nawaz Sharif is playing a dangerous game of carrot and stick with President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani.

 This childish game could hurt him, but more dangerously, it could hurt Pakistan.

 Pakistan’s media should step up and play a constructive role in identifying the intense efforts undertaken by Zardari to open up Pakistan for global investment. Obviously, he can’t do it alone and every patriotic and democratic politician and Pakistani is obligated to help Zardari because if Zardari succeeds, Pakistan wins.

 But, as always, Pakistan’s media, especially the electronic media is not interested in objectivity or facts. They want viewers and regretfully, media bosses in Pakistan are convinced, incorrectly, that the only way to attract viewers to their channels is to beat the drum of ‘government has failed’ instead of helping the public understand Pakistan’s very complex and unfortunate history and contemporary challenges.

 Nawaz Sharif and his admirers in the media must not overplay their hand by opposing everything done by the government. They should realize that it is never a good idea to demonize opponents because in the end, everyone runs the risk of losing everything. Nawaz Sharif, who has never gotten along with any president in Pakistan, is at it once again. His cronies are attacking Zardari and America day and night, but this game could be dangerous, very dangerous for Pakistan’s infant democracy.

 Zardari, who is trying to keep the broad and historic coalition intact domestically and talking to businessmen around the world, is walking a very tight rope. Instead of appreciating him or at the vest least supporting him in his efforts to bring money to the country, his every step, and his every move is questioned and this impression is given that perhaps he is in it for the money for himself.  

 This shameful treatment of Zardari is nauseating.

 Pakistan is fortunate that investors are still open to exploring opportunities in Pakistan and Pakistan’s media and opposition should not cross the line where investment goes away and Pakistan is forced to rely on aid, once again.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Zardari brings Italian investors to Pakistan

  1. lalded

    Zardari and Berlesconi are almost an item.Birds of a feather….. if not equal almost equivalent.Not many would remember this press handout a month hence.Is this Zardari PR at work?

  2. yasserlatifhamdani

    Who is this Bilal Qureshi and what is he upto?

  3. Mustafa Shaban

    Well it is good to have foreign investors, but they will not invest much becuase of the same reasons other do not invest: Security. We need to first work on security and then call investors. Another way to attract investors would be to have Zardari invest his own money in Pakistan and then everybody will follow his example. Thing is overseas pakistanis have enough financial power to stabalize and push Pakistan ahead. They cannot do this due to security of investment in Pakistan. Nobody needs to look anywhere else for help. Pakistanis are lions who unfortunately see themselves as sheep.

    At the same time I would like to warn of the danger of privitisation. We have a big history of countries leaders selling Pakistan assets for much cheaper than actual value and this must not happen.

    Berlusconi and zardari both have suspicous past and criminal records and relations: Lol. They can make gr8 friends!

  4. Luqmaan

    >At the same time I would like to warn of the
    >danger of privitisation. We have a big history of
    >countries leaders selling Pakistan assets for much
    >cheaper than actual value and this must not
    >happen.

    Can I ask a simple question…. What are the goods that Pakistan imports and is not having the infrastructure to manufacture on its own?

    And food?

    Luqmaan.

  5. KULKARNI

    CHOR CHOR MAUSERE BHAI.
    ITALIANS ARE CROOKS AND PAKISTANIS SHOULD BE AWARE OF THIS.

  6. Ali Abbas

    Bilal,

    You can go blue in the face trying to preach a rational approach to politics and not make any headway amongst upper-middle class Pakistanis.

    In recent times, especially in the lawyer’s “movement”, those who identify with the Left and the Jamaat Islami marched hand in hand; the same “left”/civil society elites were largely absent from the sparse protest rallies against the blasphemy laws and against Taliban atrocities; most of them still consider the Taliban to be some sort of Anti-Feudal, Pushtoon Nationalist, Marxist gurellas despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They would rather support Lal Masjid then applaud any good PPP Coalition Government initiative. Even if Zardari would take a stand against the Taliban and procure billions of dollars of aid for Pakistan, which he actually did, these guys will still wallow in their drawing room gossip.

    They will stop ranting when a dictator or chauvinist leader will come to power via the back door and restore the status quo of Pakistan being the “Fortress of Islam” and reject the world community with the exception of its Wahabi mentors.

    These guys are burning up inside with whatever success Zardari has with the national economy or against the existential threat to Pakistan from its own Frankensteins. He has made mistakes and taken wrong decisions but in their mind, he is the devil incarnate. The sight of him as the President is just unpalatable to the civil society elites and the Islamist right and thus Bhutto-bashing is in vogue again in these elitest drawing rooms and the Jamaati, Taliban cheering squad media!

  7. Mustafa Shaban

    Ali Abbas:

    1. Not everyone critical of zardari is a conservative extremist or Taliban and Jamat e Islami supporter.

    2. There are some people and parties who protested with the lawyers and also condemned the Taliban and said they should be brought to justice.

    3. I know it sounds nice to say that Zardari has defeated the Taliban and that he is bringing billions to the country. At first this sounds good. But if you look at the situation you see a different picture.

    4. So you mentioned the Taliban. Remember it is a military operation, run and controlled by the military under leadership of Kayani, so basically this is not sucess of Zardari but success of Kayani. PPP did not contribute to the success. This can also be seen in the civic planning and the disastrous administering of the IDP’s. They were not prepared for the fall out at all. The Taliban being crushed under Zardari is co-incidence, the main reason is Kayani and ISI. They worked hard and did some amazing work in Swat. They crushed the Taliban.

    5. Whenever you burrow billions, like it or not there are strings attatched, especially with IMF. The debt keeps increasing and then countries have to pay a large percentage of GDP into paying back debts that compound over time. Also the countries and institutions gain more control in the countries affairs. Read the book by John Perkins called “The Economic Hitman” and find out how the IMF has enslaved, destoryed and put in large debt many 3rd world countries by giving them loans and then asking them to restructure the economy so that MNC’s can make inroads into country and other changes that damage the economy. Some Ex IMF people openly testify to this. This process has resulted in trillions being taken by these orginizations from third world countries. So where do you get the money from if not foreigners?? The answer is very simple. Most politicians have tons of wealth outside Pakistan such as Zardari, they should bring that wealth into Pakistan and invest in Pakistan. Lead by example. Others will invest to. Also improve security conditions so that overseas Pakistanis bring more investment to the countries. Currently remittences from overseas Pakistani amounts to around 8 billion dollars, by doing this the figure can easily double and then you will not need Kerry Lugar Bill or 1.5 billion dollars from US. Or should I say Kerry- Loser bill. Read the bill and find out the strings attached. Also make the elite pay tax. Paying taxes is law for everyone in any country, it is against law to evade tax. The elite make so much money that if you charge tax then you will get a lot of money.

    Also I will criticize government. Whenever you are running short of money there is one thing people always do. That is to cut costs. Such as not staying in multi million dollar president and prime minister house, driving in expensive limousines with millions of dollars of security. Security is important but not millions of dollars of bullet proof cars and patrols and stuff. Massive salaries of politicians and ministers should be reduced. All this kind of stuff, cut cost and you will also get finance. There are other strategies available as well. Generate money from within and dont burrow from anyone unless you have to and there is no other way. Otherwise you will have to do what everrybody tells you to do and yes there are huge strings attatched to all this aid. Also our close friends Saudi and China dont give us much anymore. They openly said thier confidence in the handling of the money by the government isnt that good anymore. Also transparency international said that there is 400% increase in curroption. That is saying something. This increase is unprecedented.

    6. Also I do not pick on anyone becuase of thier reputation or that i do nt like thier face or something. That goes for other people too. If I and other people are criticizing Zardari, there is good reason behind it. Study the current situation and notice how it is deteriorating and notice how the PPP is handling it. I will praise Zardari if he has done something good. But nothing so far. If you want I will elaborate why this is. I am not picking on him becuase I do not like his name or somethng. So please do not say that. Also some politicians as you correctly mention are just wanting to score political points against Zardari and I agree its annoying but other politicans and people have genuine concerns I assure you.

    7. Zardari is part of the elite and is one of the most elitist people in Pakistan. The elite want him in power. It is the people, other political parties, a free and unrestricted media that criticizes him for his actions. And they give good explanations and evidence. What has become better after Musharraf??? Some things became worse for sure.

    8. Pakistan is a strong country, its people are strong, overseas pakistanis are very strong. We do not need help from the world. Lets use our resources first before asking the world. Once we have exhausted all internal help then we should look outside.

  8. Mustafa Shaban

    @Luqmaan: I think Pakistan has the potential to be self suffecient. A good governance and investment can set us on that path, for now we need to import few things, though I am not too knowledgable on this part. But I do know we have huge potential but we need time and good governance and more investement. Then we can develop the country and its natural resources, which are huge and one of the largest in the world by the way. Huge untapped reserves of copper, gold, gas, oil, coal and other stuff. Vast lands of unused extremely fertile soil. Our country is great. We can do it. Only a matter of good administration and time. We have great work force, good people, ttalented people. Do you not think so? Or do you guyz think there is little hope? Just asking.