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Political uncertainty.

Chances of Government Opposition rapport have become dim when opposition formally filed two references agains Prime Minister Mohammadt Nawaz Sharif. The references demand disqualification of Mohammad Nawaz Sharif from his National Assembly seat under various allegations. It has contended in the references that the matter of disqualification of the said MNA be referred to the Chief Election Commissioner for his opinion under Article 63(2) of the Constitution. One out of the two references related to Ittefaq Brothers loan of Rs. 300 million obtained from the Muslim Commercial Bank main branch, Karachi, allegedly in violation of the banking rules by opening account and borrowing loan on the same date.

The reference said that the loan amount was sanctioned by the Muslim Commercial Bank in flagrant violation of not only the banking rules but also in direct contravention of the order passed by a Division Bench of the Lahore High Court. The other reference related to four million dirhams loan from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) to two members of Ittefaq Group of Companies.

All eyes now follow the Speaker and how he handles these references. In the normal process, it now rests with Gohar Ayub Khan whether he would, under the law, ask Farroq Leghari to appear before him with proof to support his accusations after which he would be at liberty to send the references to the CEC. Interestingly, the Secretary of the National Assembly, Khan Ahmed Goraya, is the same as at the time of the PPP government, and it was the IJI government who elevated him to the unprecedented position of a Secretary-General.

According to political observers the humiliation and disgrace of women is now a part of the state policy. The policy was extended to political workers whose women-folk were taken to police stations. Physical torture was practiced on Raheela, Shehla and others. Even the families of journalists in the interior of Sindh did not escape this treatment. Physical abuse of women who are political workers has now been made part of the pattern of victimisation. Khursheed Begum and Furhana Hayat are the victims of the same policy. Khursheed Begum is now being allegedly harassed by the same people to revoke the case she has brought against them in the Sindh-High Court. As she disclosed the brutalities meted out to her and her 16-year-old yea by policemen, to a meeting organised by human rights organisations in Lahore, few eyes were dry in the audience. She said she felt compelled to make public her shame as a service to future generations because she felt that she now had nothing more to lose.

It was part of the disinformation campaign that Jam Sadiq Ali said on the floor of the Assembly that he would soon disclose the "drama" of Farhana, alluding thereby that nothing had happened and that it was just a drama staged by Farhana and her father. A similar reaction came from President Ghulam Ishaq Khan who called the incident |just a fiction' and Marwat's involvement "a figment of the imagination".

A protest demonstration was held in front of the Pakistan Consulate in New York on December 27 to condemn the gang-rape of Veena Hayat and violations of human rights in Pakistan. The protest note handed over to the Consulate held President Ghulam Ishaq responsible for the incident and demanded his resignation. It claimed that the Veena Hayat incident was part of a pattern of using rape as a weapon of political terror. It said that President Ishaq was sending a brutal and perverse message to the female Leader of the Opposition. Ms. Benazir Bhutto, in order to force her out of politics. The protestors also condemned the assaulting of Khursheed Baloch, Rahila Tiwana and other women activists.

President and the Prime Minister appeared to have developed some differences. According Frontier Post. President has already initiated four inquiries against the present government. These inquiries, reportedly, are dealing with the business interests of the Ittefaq family in the fields of scrap, sugar and textiles. While the name of the investigating agency/personnel were not revealed, while sources insist that testimonies in sugar inquiry at least have been complete and it is only a matter of days before all the inquiries are completed.

Relations with USA are at the lowest ebb. President and the Prime Minister have refused to meet Mr. Larry Pressler the US senator who visited Pakistan recently. Mr. Pressler has called upon the Government to publicly dismantle its nuclear bomb and also re-affirmed his apprehension about the formation of what he called a fundamentalist Islamic confederation with nuclear capability. The statements of the U.S. Senator were quite outrageous and even the pro-American lobby is making a rethinking on the Pak-US relations.

According to BBC Pakistan has two atomic bombs and US administration is in knowledge of this fact. However, it is lacking in the delivery device. Pakistan is not taking any heed of the U.S. warning in regard to nuclear developments. It has taken a hardline stance in regard to nuclear development. In one instance President Ghulam Ishaq Khan declared that Pakistan will use nuclear option if war was imposed upon it. According to source close to establishment, the President's warning was not unfounded; they maintain Pakistan crossed the nuclear threshold, finally entering the exclusive club of undeclared nuclear powers.

The suspension of US aid to Pakistan and the shaping of a new world order in the wake of the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union has triggered off renewed debate on whether Pakistan should explode the bomb and formally declare itself a nuclear power. There is a strong section both within the establishment and outside it which believes that the time has come for Pakistan to shed the ambiguity regarding its nuclear capability. "We should detonate the bomb and let the world know that we are a nuclear power", says a senior military officer.

A similar argument was presented by former vice chief of army staff General (retired) K.M. Arif and some other participants in the recent seminar on Pakistan's security conducted by General Beg's recently set up think-tank, FRIENDS. The pro-nuclear lobby contends that only after it has declared itself a nuclear power can Pakistan hope to negotiate peace and non-proliferation with India. "Pakistan should have a nuclear weapon", says General Arif emphatically. "And if we have it, we should demonstrate it at the right time."

However, there is another section that contends that the explosion of a nuclear device would be disastrous for the country and would leave Pakistan totally isolated in the international community. "A few crude nuclear devices cannot safeguard Pakistan's security or even act as an effective deterrent against foreign aggression". While this controversy is floating around Pakistan and China have signed an agreement in Beijing on December 31, 1991 for the acquisition of 300 MW nuclear power plant. SinoPakistan Nuclear Plant will be placed under IAEA safeguards.


"Pakistan's economy is heading towards a collapse". This view was expressed by Dr. Mahboob-ul-Haq who recently visited Pakistan. Dr. Haq in a recent meeting told the President and the Prime Minister that a Stock Exchange crash in Pakistan is imminent and things have gone from bad to worse in the last year or so. Dr. Haq pointed out that of the 800 million dollars of foreign deposits in the country, nearly 550 million have been misused by the government itself. Haq said that this misappropriation could explode into a scandal even more damaging than the cooperative societies debacle.

The most alarming aspect of Dr. Haq's conference with the President is the Washington based expert's reported revelation that a bill is likely to be tabled in the US Senate in January, declaring Pakistan to be a terrorist state because of its alleged failure to keep its nuclear capability below the lethal level. If passed by the Senate, the matter would ultimately be referred to the United Nations, as was done in the case of Iraq.

At the midpoint of 1991-92 Pakistan's economy presents a dismal picture, with extremely remote possibility of achieving the targeted growth of 6.7 per cent. There are serious shortfalls in earnings both from the domestic and foreign resources, while the expenditure on non-developmental activities continues to rise. This has led to even wider deficit gap increasing the Nawaz Sharif government's dependence on bank borrowing.

Meanwhile, the remittances from the Gulf region have fallen by over 30 per cent, and the current account deficit has enlarged to over two billion dollars, against 1991-92 target of 1.6 billion dollars.

Major setback is being experienced in agriculture, a subject which during the reign of this business-oriented government has taken the back seat. While the cotton target is expected to exceed by about 12 per cent, sugar and rice targets would not be achieved. Rabi crop, in the light of good weather and better fertilisers offtake, is expected to do better. Of serious concern is the 11 per cent shortfall in the rice production, which would be having corresponding negative impact on exports as this commodity is a major foreign exchange earner.

Manufacturing sector exhibited mixed trends, with fertiliser (phosphatic), cement, cotton cloth and cotton yarn showing increase in production and vegetable and billets going down. Oil production also registered massive decline of 10 per cent though the gas production showed some improvement. The power generation capacity is said to have increased by about 10 per cent but the darkness in the form of recurrent load-shedding throughout the country does not support the claim of increase in megawatt capacity from 8075 to 8900 mw.
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Author:Haidari, Iqbal
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Previous Article:The state of Pakistan's foreign trade 1990-91.
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