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Defaulting on promises.

* Nothing for voters in election campaign.

* Tall promises and False Hopes.

* Drug Barons are out to buy the Assembly.

Murtaza Bhutto will be announcing his manifesto shortly. Nusrat Bhutto would be carrying out election campaign of her son. This is quite confusing and is likely to weaken the PPP. Another event of significance was the announcement of Presidential Ordinance which debars the loan defaulters from participating in the electoral exercise. Drug traffickers may also be debarred from election. Parties have already finalised the list of their candidates for National and Provincial Assemblies. PPP has decided to field 156 candidates out of 207 general seats. For provincial assemblies several seats have been left vacant.

PML (Nawaz Group) leaders have already begun talking about a "change of wind". Mian Nawaz's campaign for the October elections is likely to be three-pronged: First of all, it is likely to be directed against the Ghulam Ishaq-Benazir Bhutto coalition which, according to Nawaz, brought instability to the country. An attack on the caretakers' decision to increase prices in several areas to improve the national economy, will be his second front and his third theme will be the development process he initiated. Apart from these, he is certain to blast the PPP's programme and its campaign to attract voters. He is promising to throw away the breakers of Pakistan into the sea. Ms. Bhutto liken Mian Nawaz Sharif to a jackal whose days are numbered.

The PML (Nawaz Group) finalised its list of candidates for both the national and provincial assemblies, after careful scrutiny, keeping in view the list of loan defaulters and those who had got their loans written off since 1985. The PML (Nawaz Sharif) received this list of loan defaulters released by Pakistan Banking Council as a party which escaped "major damage". The Leaguers were particularly happy when they saw that the list did not contain Nawaz's name. The list of loan defaulters and those who got their loans written off provided the party an opportunity to hit back at the PPP leadership.

So far the election scenario is concerned there is nothing for the voters in the election campaign. Whatever is being said is meant for public consumption. There is no real issue dominating the campaign. The trend of political debate in the meetings cannot be considered as high enough to be discussed. Political expediency rather than ideology dominates the going on exercise whether PPP or PML (N). The manifestos are vague, hazy and cryptic and are there to hoodwink the masses. There is no visible distinction between the two. Quite interesting to note that 51 members of Zia's nominated Majlis-e-Shoora are in the run from both sides for National Assembly in the forthcoming elections from Punjab alone. A larger number belongs to Nawaz Sharif Group. Out of the total, 31 belong to PML (N), 9 PPP, 6 PML (J) with the adjustment of PPP and 3 independents. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also the member of Provincial Council of Punjab that was set-up by Zia-ul Haq simultaneously with Majlis-e-Shoora in 1981.

Having turncoats and Lotas on both sides Zia legacy could be the demarcation line between Benazir and Nawaz Sharif. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif still adheres to that legacy. On the eve of Zia's death anniversary Nawaz Sharif not only attended the meeting but without mincing words also made it clear that he would promote Zia's mission in the country. Zia's mission needs no elaboration, it is a matter of recollection of memory.

With its track record spread over 29 months in government, the PML (Nawaz Group) has decided to go alone in the polls form the Punjab, making adjustments with ANP in the NWFP and several smaller parties in Sindh and Balochistan. But this time the party is making Sindh equally important, striving to snatch away a few seats from the PPP with the support of Pir of Pagaro and other Sindhi leaders.

Dr. Moeen Qureshi has not given the whole truth about the economic mess created by Nawaz Sharif government. Without giving details he just said that Pakistan had reached a state of insolvency. According to newspaper reports there was gross mismanagement of the economy. Dr. Moeen Qureshi has prepared a list of mismanagement which was not given to the press. According to this list over Rs. 1400 billion had been stolen from government coffers in various forms during the last years.

Within the last 30 months of blighted 'economic miracles', the Nawaz Sharif government created a liability of 5 billion dollars, drawing by force 2 billion dollars from the foreign exchange accounts of the people and pledging the crops of the country for 3 billion dollars.

Bank notes of Rs. 100 billion were printed and flooded into the market to overcome deficit. Not only the nation's growth registered a minus, but together with negative growth in agriculture, etc., even foreign investment, which the NS government bragged about, also went into the negative.

Over Rs. 100 billion were stolen away by Mian Nawaz Sharif and associates through Stock Exchange and cooperative scandals, if not to mention the grab of the Qubza group. Black money of around Rs. 600 billion that is 50% of the GNP is running a parallel economy in the country.

The Banks Nationalisation (Amendment) Ordinance 1993

This ordinance came as a bomb shell for political parties. It is the first ever serious attempt to recover the public money from the politicians. If they don't clear their overdues, they will be hit by the new law and will be thrown out of the electoral contest. A major problem facing them is that they have very little time for loan repayments.

They are required to file declarations with their nomination papers that they have not got any loan written off or defaulted on the payment of any loan. If these contain any false information, these candidates will be liable to punishment. Many defaulters, who are contesting elections, have recently repaid the overdue money to regularise their loans to escape the operation of the Ordinance.

According to one tentative estimate, hardly five to ten per cent of total defaulters and those whose loans have been written off are political figures while others belong to the business community. Some political leaders have argued that qualifications and disqualifications of a candidate are listed in articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution and the Ordinance is inconsistent with it. Government has decided to debar the loan defaulters to contest elections. What will be the scenario if the drug barons come forward to pay off the debts of the defaulters aspiring to run the elections and thus buy over the whole assembly?

The list of loan defaulters proved an irritation for two key PML (Nawaz Group) leaders - Speaker Gohar Ayub Khan and Ch. Shujaat Hussain. Both had to pledge to the returning officers to repay their loans before September 13. Almost all the remaining PML (Nawaz Group) key leaders "cleared the hurdle unhurt (politically speaking)".

Most of the decisions taken by the caretaker government have been opposed, though partially, by one major political party while the same have been half-heartedly supported by the other. But, in the present circumstances, both the PML (Nawaz Group) and PPP have expressed their reservations about the Ordinance.

While defaulters holding accounts in the nationalised banks were debarred the defaulters of privatised banks have escaped the punishment. These banks are ABL and MCB and foreign banks. Perhaps Mr. Moeen Qureshi will take up these cases if he is out to cleanse the whole banking system.
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Title Annotation:Nawaz Sharif
Author:Haidari, Iqbal
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Aug 1, 1993
Previous Article:Tractors of the future.
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