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.