Friday, October 1, 2010

Parvez Musharraf's inaugural speech on APML

Parvez Musharraf delivered his inaugural speech, announcing foundation of APML and joining the same, in his typical authoritarian tone and style. Perhaps on the issue of style, he could not help it even after living in London for more than two years observing how politicians speak. However we will deal with more substantial issues.

Having ruled this country for so long, it was disappointing to find his level of ignorance on some of the fundamental problems and issues. For example, he repeatedly said that we had abundant water. However, the data and facts on which there is unanimity and consensus among experts and other knowledgeable people within and outside Pakistan, that Pakistan is short of water. By no measure ,it can be said that Pakistan is abundant in water.Water is one of the most serious and critical issues of the country.Pakistan is mostly arid,with very limited rain fall . We rely on just one river ,most water of which originates from outside Pakistan under the control of others.Whatever water is there either comes in the form of floods and drought conditions.Increasing population pressure is worsening the situation by the day.So where is this guy, his military training and subsequent rule-nothing could have educated him about the countries vital issues.

Similarly ,he spoke of the abundant energy resources which I agree there are and remain unutilised.However,it was his government which caused major problems in this sector.It was in his period that Chinese offer , and a very reasonable and competitive and cost effective offer,was rejected on Thar coal.A big Chinese company had spent more than two years in Thar desert ,prepared its feasibility study and made the offer,which if allowed to be implemented , would have produced enough cheap electricity from domestic Thar coal , to obviate load-shedding and tariff increases.WAPDA files and media coverage are there to verify what I have just mentioned.Where was he busy with to let this happen.Chinese were so incensed that they did not come back on this issue and refuse to do so till today.It is highly unlikely that western companies would enter Thar desert due to a variety of problems ,including the anti-coal environmental policies in the West. Reportedly even World Bank has withdrawn from a technical assistance project on Thar coal among criticism for funding coal projects.

Dependence on oil started from his period and gas supplies started dwindling in his period. It was due to his vendetta and egotistic and knee-jerk policies and campaign in Balochistan ,that further Oil and Gas exploration activity remains suspended and may remain so for quite a long period.He is not repentant. He still uses the same vocabulary of using power to solve political problems and vowed again to ' crush' political forces in Balochistan.

No single MW was added to the electrical grid in his period.And no investment in energy either.He denies that charge ,saying: Were we stupid to not have invested in Electricity? Politeness prevents us from responding to this kind of question.He made false promises of opening Langar in every Union Council . Some kind of a Manna Salwa , as the government of Punjab had to close down its subsidised Tannoor programme due to lack of resources , not to talk of Langars.

He spoke of Local Governments and the media and perhaps rightly claimed credit for innovation and development in these areas.Our provincial politicians have not yet been able to shun their skepticism and antagonism towards local governments which remain dysfunctional in all the provinces , some due to pure egotistic reasons and penchant for direct and personal rule and some due to ethnic issues.

Parvez Musharraf lamented about many problems and issues and criticized but hardly offered any solution or his approach to solve such problems.In an inaugural speech,one expected some new thinking. Only a few days ago,he may have heard the speech of the younger brother of David Miliband propounding a new vision for the Labor Party his country and its people.We have much more severe problems and our leaders so moribund. Musharraf talked about the poor and poverty ,but had hardly any proposal in this respect.He complained that the rich benefit from the laws and only the poor get punishment under it.On most issues he said or implied that he was right when he was in power and would like to do more in that direction.One wonders if he would imprison more CJs this time?He would trample upon the constitution again and disfigure it?He would commit the like of excessive violence on Lal Masjid type operations again ?He would indulge in arbitrary killing of more Baloch leaders again to compound the problems in that province once again? He did not talk about any reforms including land reforms or taxing the landlords or increasing the government revenue by bringing in untaxed incomes in the net. any thing new,he opened the Pandora box of 1939 vs 1940 resolution and spoke about new provinces,which would bring the dormant issue in the limelight and further controversy in this respect.

However there is a lesson for all democratic political parties in Pakistan especially the big ones.Parvez Musharraf is attracting the educated middle class , which has almost been disenfranchised by the political system and the parties.PML and PPP should create more space for educated middle classes in their leadership ranks and as well as down the line.Had they done so , Musharraf would have been buried in political debris.

If Musharraf poses any threat to some one,it is for Nawaz Sharif.It is Musharraf who can unite all factions of Muslim League except PML(N) or it is Nawaz Sharif,if he shows leadership,can unite all factions except APML.The ball is in Nawaz Sharif's court?

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