THE AMERICAN NOTEBOOK
By Asif Jamal
It is no exaggeration that Pakistan is a place that has unlimited potential. It has become a sort of land of opportunity for those who are able to take the most out of the circumstances. Time is the witness that during the past, things have been dramatically changed and sometimes it feels like Pakistan is going through a process of evolution in the sense that it is transforming into something worst to bad which is in fact, a progress, as after this, the next level up is nothing but good that means, it has potential of becoming eventually the best! All it needs a direction and sincere leadership with conscientious nation.
Regardless of any rather many prevailing issues, Pakistan has been on a track of creating history as the world witnessed, for the time Pakistan had a government that completed its legitimate term of five years irrespective of how devastating those five years were that pushed back the nation several decades behind the progress. But once again, history after a history is in the making when a democratic government passed on to another elected one that vows to give a new birth to success. This new government is experienced and had assumed power twice in the past, thus, heading its way into the Prime Minister House for the third time is indeed much of a big deal.
Certainly we are talking about PML-N league and its undisputed leader, Nawaz Sharif who took the largest mandate in the recent elections. Nevertheless, others aspiring political parties were once confidence that they were better than others, specially, PTI, who somehow believed that they were going to be the government but I guess, not so soon. No doubt, their winning ratio is just as good as the biggest party in the nation, PPP, but the recent elections has proven that the time has come for change and the reign will be awarded to those only who will make a difference. Nawaz Sharif is a tested leader with a proven track of giving something back to the country. If any government has done anything for the country then the credit goes to him perhaps, such is the reason why among all he is again in power – for the third time. He has promised to do better than ever this time for the nation and most analysts around donâ€™t have doubts to this claims and they think this government will be far better than Nawaz Sharif earlier two governments and for that matter, the earlier democratic government.
Well letâ€™s see how the claim works but at least it seems that itâ€™s moving in the right direction and perhaps, thatâ€™s what it needs. Just a few days after the sworn in ceremony for the new government, the National Economic Council, headed by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif approved 1155 billion rupees development projects including federal Public Sector Development program of Rs.540 Billion and 615 Billion rupees of development projects belonging to the provinces. It also decided to constitute a committee led by minister for Planning and Development with chief ministers of the provinces as its members to consider issues and to chalk out a policy with clear guidelines consistent with the functional responsibilities under the constitution.
The National Economic Council (NEC) authorized the aforementioned committee to also streamline the process of release of funds to the provinces. It further, authorized Ministry of Planning and Development for making adjustments within the approved PSDP size as decided by the committee.
On the occasion, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif congratulated the Chief Minister on their assumptions of office and completion of smooth transition. The Prime Minister reiterated that the mandate of the people will be respected. He expressed the confidence that if we continue on the path of democracy, respect democratic traditions and the mandate of the people, the days were not far off when we would be able to raise our heads high as a civilized nation. He expressed the hope that the provincial governments will work in their respective provinces for the implementation of development projects with sincerity and ensure that the funds are not only used judiciously but each and every rupee is spent as a sacred trust of the people. â€œWe will not tolerate any breach of national trust. Funds should be utilized for the purpose they are intended and honestlyâ€, emphasized the Prime Minister.
However, for his government, the biggest issues facing the country at the moment are load shedding, extremism and sectarianism that have a direct bearing on the countryâ€™s economy. Therefore, Nawaz Sharif stressed to have a need of peace for economic activities.
We have to eliminate corruption and plug loopholes and leakages to increase revenue. The present quantum of revenue collection and size of the development program is a shame for a country of the size and status of Pakistan. The Prime Minister said that we need revenues and these targets can be improved provided we rid the tax collection machinery of corrupt elements. He observed that this is a pathetic situation and is unacceptable.
â€œNo one involved in corruption will be spared.â€
The Prime Minister directed the Minister for Planning & Development to review the ongoing schemes reportedly amounting to nearly 3 Trillion and come up with recommendations by July 31, 2013 so that a roadmap on their implementation could also be finalized.
The Prime Minister directed the Minister for Water & Power Mr. Khawaja Muhammad Asif to find a way out to provide additional electricity to Baluchistan in view of the urgent requirement of water for the crops. The direction was issued in response to the request made by the Chief Minister Baluchistan, Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, who informed the Prime Minister that Baluchistan is presently receiving two hours of electricity only and this would adversely impact the standing crops.
The Prime Minister directed the Ministry of Finance to present a proposal to the Cabinet containing recommendations for improvement in revenue collection including structural reforms.
As I said earlier that beginning of this newly elected government seems to be on the right track and since its Nawaz Sharif third term and perhaps the last, he is ought to leave a road of advancement as a legacy to pass on to his predecessors, to be an example who made a difference, though only time could tell how it goes but letâ€™s see, how he proves his own statement that anyone involved in corruption will not be spared!
â€“ To participate in this column or for comments and suggestions, you may reach the scribe via email at firstname.lastname@example.org & follow him on Twitter @AsifJamalNY