President Musharaf found a friendly crowd in Karachi during the last weekend visit which coincided with the first anniversary of the Red Mosque raid in Islamabad. As the President met with Karachi-ites, a series of bomb blasts in Pakistan's largest city served as a reminder that there is no escaping the worsening security situation that plagues the entire nation.
At a gala reception in President Musharraf's honor by Karachi's business community, business leaders including Khalid Tawab, Mian Zahid Hussain, Abdul Haseeb Khan, Majyd Aziz warmly welcomed the President and reiterated their full confidence and support for him. Governor Sindh Dr. Ishartul Ibad Khan and City Nazim Mustafa Kamal also joined in the welcome, according to Karachi's Business Recorder newspaper.
The President thanked the community and called upon the industrialists to help promote rapid industrialization, investment and jobs creation in the country. He met with a delegation of leading industrialists and chairmen of industrial estates, which called on him at the Governor's House in Karachi on Monday. Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan was also present on the occasion. The members of the industrialists delegation told the President that the number of factories at Nooriabad Industrial Estate in Dadu has grown from 17 in 1999 to 70 now.
Pakistan's tax base has grown with rapid economic growth over the last 9 years. The President lauded the performance of the Federal Board of Revenue and said that tax collection had crossed Rs 1.02 trillion in 2007 from Rs. 500 billion in 1999. With the revenue growth target for the next five years set at an ambitious 25% per year, the tax base and collection efforts need to continue to expand. Pakistan needs to build confidence to stop flight of capital and grow its exports, he added.
Why is it important to grow Pakistan's tax base and revenue collection, now more than ever? Government spending will jump 30 percent to 2.01 trillion rupees ($29.8 billion) next fiscal year from 1.55 trillion rupees in the previous 12 months, according to acting finance minster Naveed Qamar's budget proposals for 2008-2009. Outlays on subsidies on items including food, power and fertilizer are forecast at 295 billion rupees.
Confusion over who is managing Pakistan's $146 billion economy has deterred much-needed foreign investment, which has already fallen this fiscal year for the first time since at least 2004, according to Bloomberg.com. Standard & Poor's, which reduced its debt rating for Pakistan on May 15, said in mid-June that the government's revenue and expenditure targets faced "significant implementation risks." Pakistan's rating would be lowered if fiscal and current account deficits do not improve, S&P said in a statement.
As part of his tour, the President also visited the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), along with Governor Ishratul Ibad where he met with the State Bank Governor Dr Shamshad Akhtar. The State Bank of Pakistan on May 23 unexpectedly raised borrowing costs by 1.5 percentage points to 12 percent, the second increase this year, to curb runaway inflation. "Higher interest rates and a steeper drop in growth still lie ahead," Philip Wyatt, a senior economist at UBS AG in Hong Kong told Bloomberg. "The fiscal funding problem is precarious and unsustainable in current global conditions."
Among the political leaders, the President met with Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) Chief Pir Pagara, who called on him. The details of this meeting were not immediately available.
The President emphasized the need for national consensus in Pakistan to solve the pressing problems of deteriorating economy, political instability, terrorism and growing threat of Talibanization. As the President talked about the need for national consensus, the Sindh information minister appeared before the media and condemned the President and the City Nazim. None of the Sind government's PPP ministers attended any events hosted in Musharraf’s honor either. The Sind Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah instead chose to host a reception in honor of the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Friday in his hometown, as reported in the Pakistani media.
The growing rift between the PPP and MQM does not augur well for the city of Karachi or Sind province. Nor does it give hope for the badly needed economic recovery for the nation. Let's hope that the Sind political leadership reflects on the gravity of the current crises to rise above petty politics. The Sindh government must address the real day-to-day problems faced by all Sindhis, rural and urban.
Here's a brief video clip of the President's address in Karachi:
Mush is truly loved in Karachi and this is the reason he is still there. No opposition has ever succeeded in Pakistan w/o support of Karachites and you wont find many Karachi walas opposing him and there is a reason behind that. He is the one who introduced city governments and gave funds to Karachi to build under passes and fly overs. Karachi has seen more construction in last 6 years then all together 50 years before that. Generally Karachi has been peaceful in this era and Mush has made MQM to behave in a peaceful manner. KSE has grown and private sector has many jobs. Generally people in Karachi are very happy with him. No wonder Karachi has the most literacy rate and people there know what is good for country and what is happening around the globe. May be you should write a post on Karachi and Mush relationship at Teeth Maestro site. Most of the hate for Mush is coming from Punjab while Karachi has no issues with him and it would be stupid to think its due to fear of MQM that people are not coming on the roads. Jamat-e-Islami simply can't gather people against Mush here other wise they are very organized
Karachi has definitely prospered under Musharraf. So has the rest of Pakistan, as evident to any casual observer who happens to visit there. I have recently written a post this subject titled "Foreign Visitors to Pakistan Pleasantly Surprised".
What is unfortunate is the fact that Karachi's appreciation and support of Musharraf has been given an ethnic color by the politicians in other parts of the country.
These efforts have re-kindled ethnic tensions in Karachi and other parts of the country. Let's hope Pakistanis are smart enough to realize that political differences are not necessarily based on ethnicity, as demonstrated by several high-profile Karachi-ites who have strongly opposed Musharraf's arbitrary actions beginning in 2007.
I don't give a damn if politicians and people from Punjab want to give its ethnic color. If you look at all the posts on bloggers.pk , you could find so much hate for Karachi, Muhajirs and MQM that I now literally have a problem with a Punjab for the first time. Specially look at posts at pakspectator.com and see the biases of authors from Punjab against Karachi and MQM. We won't protest for the return of their Punjabi Gunja leader at all. And this is coming from a person who is residing in US, working in a MNC in high tech and went to school in US. The blogs have helped me to identify their hate against us and now I truly understand why MQM was created and why was it needed in first place. How can I forget Dec 27th when Benazir was killed and 1000 cars weer burnt in one day in Karachi and Muhajirs(no fault of us) were targeted all over the Karachi and Sindh but MQM did not retaliate and no body would discuss that, people would only talk about May 12th incident.
I believe there is enough blame to go around. But, what a difference a hundred days makes! And the PPP-PML(N) coalition has only just begun. There is a lot more chaos ahead. There is a sad and dangerous situation developing. Pakistan is becoming pretty much ungovernable. Agay Agay Dekheay Hota Hai Kiya! I just hope Pakistanis regain their senses before the country collapses and becomes a failed state like Afghanistan or Iraq or Somalia. If it does, we'll ALL be in trouble: Punjabis, Sindhis, Mohajirs, Pathans and Baluchis. Let's try and save it for all of us.
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