Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
(The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The writer is Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK)
By Wajid Shamsul Hasan
Is the flood over in Pakistan? No. Most certainly not! Notwithstanding the massive relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction operations, the devastation from the worst natural disaster in recent times continues to claim lives in scores due to the outbreak of epidemics, lack of health facilities, and shortage of food, shelter and clothing.
How horrendous life has been after the deluge is unfortunately fading away from the focus of the media as Pakistan continues to cope with a natural calamity described by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as a slow tsunami, six times bigger than any other catastrophe in the last fifty years. The flood which swept through northern tip of Pakistan to Sindh affected a land mass the size of England and uprooted more than 20 million people.
Reconstruction work is on full swing – thanks to domestic and international agencies. As a resilient nation Pakistanis are doing their best to get back on their feet. No doubt there are gigantic challenges ahead but these floods have opened new opportunities to everyone whether within Pakistan or abroad.
A few weeks ago I asked a Pakistani diplomat what was, among the multiple threats facing the country, the single biggest challenge?
It wasn’t al Qaeda or the Taliban, it wasn’t the United States as many Pakistanis believe. And it wasn’t even India, for long the existential threat the military and succeeding generations of politicians have invested blood and treasure to checkmate.
from India Insight:
Yet another year is coming to an end and independent India's idea of being a republic is a year older. But is it any wiser?
On many counts, 2008 was both tumultuous and memorable for India, testing its men and the manner in which they confronted the challenges.
Pakistan has agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $7.6 billion emergency loan to stave off a balance of payments crisis.
Shaukat Tarin, economic adviser to the prime minister, said the IMF had endorsed Pakistan’s own strategy to bring about structural adjustments. The agreement is expected to encourage other potential donors, who are gathering in Abu Dhabi on Monday for a “Friends of Pakistan” conference.
If your country is desperate to stave off economic collapse, there is probably no better place to visit, and no better friend to have, than China right now. With $2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, China is sheltered from the worst of the financial storm, so much so that many are looking at it to play a part in hauling the global economy into calmer waters.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari begins a trip to China on Tuesday on what is being billed as his first official visit abroad – his earlier trip to the United States has been presented as one to attend the U.N. General Assembly.
Pakistan’s economy has survived three wars with India and a long history of tension with its much bigger neighbour. But this time its own domestic economic and political problems, combined with tension on the border with Afghanistan, are running smack into a global financial crisis that will make it harder for its traditional allies to bail it out.
So is it time to break the taboos and ask: Does Pakistan’s best hope of economic recovery lie in making peace with India?
Amid the conventional wisdom that Pakistan’s economy is falling to pieces — a view reinforced inside the country by soaring food prices and frequent power cuts — it’s interesting to see that someone still sees it as a hot market for foreign funds.
The Melchior Selected Trust Pakistan Opportunities Fund, one of the first funds to target Pakistan, believes the country’s problems have been exaggerated and sees its market as having the potential of “India at half the price”, according to this Reuters story.