------------------------------------------------------------------- DAWN WIRE SERVICE ------------------------------------------------------------------- Week Ending : 5 February 2000 Issue : 06/05 -------------------------------------------------------------------
Contents | National News | Business & Economy | Editorials & Features | Sports
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CONTENTS ===================================================================
NATIONAL NEWS + No other dispute with India: CE says talks on Kashmir issue only + US to stay engaged with Pakistan: Inderfurth + National Command Authority formed + Withdrawal of oath order urged: PML, allies want judges einstated + Pilot deposes in court: PK-805 was refused landing in Pakistan + IMF to focus on Pakistan's debt profile + Subversive activities: Musharraf stresses effective police role + Dispute with Sindh: Wapda rejects decision on power bills + Pakistan not on Clinton's itinerary + Five judges elevated to SC + Electoral law being changed: CE --------------------------------- BUSINESS & ECONOMY + World Bank for merger of private banks + Customs introduces electronic assessment system + Minister hints at rise in medicine prices + 'GST levy at retail level from next fiscal year' + Sindh raises wheat price by Rs50 per 100kg + Active trading witnessed on cotton market + Monopoly Control Authority in 'limbo' + Govt to rationalize tariff on 20 industrie + CBR collects Rs186bn revenue in 7 months --------------------------------------- EDITORIALS & FEATURES + The view from Washington Irfan Husain + The undiluted triumph of the bayonet Ayaz Amir ----------- SPORTS + Australia outclass Pakistan to clinch tri-nation crown

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NATIONAL NEWS
20000205
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No other dispute with India: CE says talks on Kashmir issue only
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ISLAMABAD, Feb 4: Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf on Friday 
said he wanted to defuse tension with India and open dialogue to 
resolve the festering dispute of Kashmir.

"I don't want tension, I want peace," he said in the second part of 
his interview to Pakistan Television. He said except Kashmir, 
"there is no other dispute as these are irritants," between the two 
countries.

"I am ready for dialogue but the talks must focus on Kashmir," 
which he said, was the only dispute plaguing bilateral relations. 
However, he said his offer should not be misconstrued as a sign of 
weakness.

"Our desire for negotiation is in the interest of peace but the 
other side has to reciprocate," he said.

A solution to the Kashmir problem is vital for peace and stability 
in South Asia, he said. General Pervez Musharraf said he was making 
the offer of talks with full sincerity of purpose.

Asked to comment on President Clinton's visit to South Asia, the 
Chief Executive said if the objective of his visit is to promote 
peace in this region then this can be realized through 
reconciliation between Pakistan and India. He said if President 
Clinton excludes Pakistan from his South Asian itinerary then the 
action would be regrettable as instead of reducing tension this 
might escalate it.

He said he would soon undertake a day's visit to Afghanistan and 
discuss the issue of terrorism which is also affecting us. He said 
the Chairman of Afghan Council of Ministers Mulla Mohammad Rabbani 
had assured him that terrorism camps if any would be closed in 
Afghanistan. He rejected the impression that any Mujahideen 
organization was involved in terrorist activities. He recalled that 
the Muslim spirit of jihad was revived during Afghan Jihad against 
Soviet occupation when United States and Pakistan worked together. 
He said once revived, this phenomenon is seen in Kashmir, Bosnia 
and Chechnya. He said splinter groups and not Mujahideen 
organizations are involved in terrorism. He said suchgroups are 
bringing bad name to Mujahideen.

Giving his vision of Pakistan, the Chief Executive said he wants to 
build Pakistan into a strong, self-reliant, dignified country where 
the poor has the same rights as the affluent.

He said poverty alleviation programme being launched with 15 
billion rupees this year would be supervised by army monitoring 
system to ensure judicious utilization of the amount to transform 
the life of the poor. He said the actual work will be carried out 
by civil labours so as to generate more jobs. However, army would 
be involved to ensure that like desilting campaign, development 
work too is carried out properly. He pointed out that every 
district has its own problems and the programme would be directed 
to resolve these problem. He said micro credit bank is also being 
launched this year which would extend small loans to the people.

Emphasizing that the economic revival depends on political 
stability, improvement of law and order situation, continuity of 
policies and sincerity and credibility of the government, the Chief 
Executive said we will work out a strategy to achieve these 
objective during a conference being convened in Islamabad next 
week.

The CE said every objective remains elusive if there is no proper 
implementation and execution machinery. With this in view, he said, 
police reforms are being worked out. Similarly, other institutions 
would also be restructured so as to being about a fundamental 
change in the country.

Asked what is guarantee of continuity of his policies he said 
grassroots level governance and decentralization of power would 
bring about an institutional change. It would be the effort of the 
government to introduce electoral reforms so that only motivated, 
committed and honest people are elected to represent people. He 
hoped that this system would be difficult to change.

The Chief Executive dwelt at length on the prevalent educational 
system and the changes he proposes to make. He proposed a three-
tier setup of the religious institutions. At the basic level, 
Maktab will be responsible to impart reading and writing skills as 
well as basic arithmetic to the student beside routine religious 
education. There is a need to improve the syllabus of the 
Madrassas, which should be responsible for both religious and other 
education up to higher secondary level. At the provincial level, 
there should be Darul Uloom, which should supervise Madrassas and 
Maktabs. These Darul Uloom should teach all subjects besides 
religious education.

To a question, General Musharraf said a conference will be held in 
the first week of April to have a threadbare discussion on the 
problems faced by womenfolk and chalk out a plan for their uplift. 
He said women have been given representation in the National 
Security Council and federal and provincial cabinets and they would 
also get berths at the district level.-AFP/NNI

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000204
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US to stay engaged with Pakistan: Inderfurth
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Shaheen Sehbai

WASHINGTON, Feb 3: The US intends to stay engaged with Pakistan 
despite the current difficulties and wants to see evidence that the 
process of returning to democracy is in motion there, State 
Department's senior-most official dealing with South Asia said on 
Wednesday.

Assistant Secretary Karl Inderfurth told a seminar at Howard 
University while the October military coup was a regrettable 
setback for South Asia as a whole, "our goal, which General 
Musharraf says he shares, is to see Pakistan put back on the 
democratic path in the shortest-possible time frame.

"To the extent that we see evidence that this process is in motion, 
it will be in our own interest to see how we can most appropriately 
and effectively encourage it," he told the seminar on South Asia.

"We do not approve the general's method of taking control, and we 
are talking very frankly to him and to his newly-appointed 
officials about their plans to restore civilian democratic rule to 
this key country," he said.

Inderfurth said in his last visit to Pakistan he was given the new 
vision of Pakistan by its foreign minister. "That vision is of a 
progressive, modern, democratic, Islamic state. This is a vision we 
can support."

He said Pakistan's potential as an example of progressive Islamic 
democracy was one reason for its importance to the US today. "But 
there are other reasons as well. Pakistan is important because it 
is a link - both economic and political - between the Indian Ocean 
and Central Asia, because it has significant human and economic 
resources, and because it has historically been a friend of the US. 
For all these reasons, we intend to stay engaged with Pakistan 
despite the current difficulties it is facing."

Inderfurth described the October coup in Pakistan as "unfortunate" 
and said "this was but the latest interruption in Pakistan's 
troubled effort to build a strong and sustained democracy. An 
elected prime minister has never served out his or her full term in 
office; indeed, the military has been in charge for fully half of 
Pakistan's fifty-two years."

President Clinton and Secretary Albright, he said, had decided even 
before the South Asian nuclear tests that the US would adopt a 
policy of greater engagement with the countries of South Asia and 
that was why the president would be travelling there next month.

"We no longer view India as a land of elephants and maharajas. 
India is now seen for what it truly is: an emerging economic 
powerhouse and world power, a dynamic nation forged from amazing 
diversity, and a successful democracy with over a billion people," 
Inderfurth said.

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20000203
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National Command Authority formed
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ISLAMABAD, Feb 2: In accordance with Pakistan's well- known nuclear 
policy of responsibility and restraint, as reaffirmed by the chief 
executive on several occasions, and with the objective of creating 
an institutionalized command and control mechanism, consistent with 

Pakistan's obligations as a nuclear power, the National Security 
Council on Wednesday approved the establishment of National Command 
Authority (NCA).

The meeting was chaired by Chief Executive General Pervez 
Musharraf.

The NCA will be responsible for policy formulation and will 
exercise employment and development control over all strategic 
nuclear forces and strategic organizations.

It will comprise Employment Control Committee and Development 
Control Committee as well as Strategic Plans Division which will 
act as secretariat.

The apex Employment Control Committee will be chaired by the head 
of the government and include minister of foreign affairs (deputy 
chairman), minister of defence, Minister of Interior, chairman of 
joint chiefs of staff committee( CJCSC), services chiefs, director-
general of Strategic Plans Division (secretary) and technical 
advisers and others, as required by the chairman.

The Development Control Committee will also be chaired by the head 
of the government and include CJCSC (deputy chairman), service 
chiefs, director- general of Strategic Plans Division and 
representative of the strategic organizations and scientific 
community.

The Committee will control development of strategic assets. The 
Strategic Plans Division, headed by a senior army officer, has been 
established in the Joint Services Headquarters under CJCSC.

It will act as the secretariat for NCA and will perform the 
functions of planning and coordination, in particular for 
establishing a 
reliable command, control, communication, computers and 
intelligence (C4I) network for the NCA. APP

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20000131
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Withdrawal of oath order urged: PML, allies want judges reinstated
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Bureau Report

ISLAMABAD, Jan 30: The PML and allied parties on Sunday condemned 
the proclamation of the Oath of Judges Order (OJO) 2000 and 
demanded its immediate withdrawal and reinstatement of those judges 
who did not take the fresh oath.

A joint parliamentary party meeting through a resolution rejected 
the government's assumption that the chief executive had the power 
to amend the Constitution. The resolution reiterated that the power 
to amend the constitution was available only with the chosen 
representatives of the people of Pakistan.

In another resolution, the suspended parliamentarians condemned 
growing Indian brutalities against the Kashmiris. Briefing newsmen 
after the meeting, Raja Zafarul Haq said that a total of 135 
suspended MNAs and senators had attended the meeting. He was 
critical of what he called the government's one-point agenda to 
victimize the PML leaders and said the rulers had forgotten the 
seven-point agenda announced by the chief executive. The PML leader 
did not rule out the possibility of an alliance with other 
political parties in the near future.

Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal, the deputy speaker of the suspended national 
assembly, said the PML had no plan to resort to agitation.

Copies of the two resolutions were provided to newsmen. According 
to one resolution, the meeting termed the OJO arbitrary and 
unconstitutional which had placed the judiciary at the mercy of the 
chief executive.

It said the OJO dealt a serious blow to the independence of the 
judiciary and shook the confidence of people as it was intended to 
forestall an independent decision on various petitions challenging 
the military takeover.

The resolution appreciated the "principled and honourable" decision 
taken by some judges, particularly the former chief justice, not to 
take the fresh oath, pleading allegiance to the PCO, to 
proclamation of emergency and to other steps taken by the military 
authorities. It said that by doing so the judges had sacrificed 
their high offices and career for the sake of the supremacy of the 
Constitution, independence of the judiciary and their conscience.

It noted that as a consequence of the OJO all powers now stood 
vested in the chief executive which was destructive of the concept 
of the rule of human dignity, of fundamental human rights and of 
the federation of Pakistan.

According to the other resolution, the meeting noted with concern 
the aggravation of tension along the LoC, the growing atrocities 
being committed by the Indian forces on the people of Kashmir and 
the aggressive attitude being displayed by India.

It resolved that the nation was ready to meet any threat to the 
sovereignty and integrity of the country. The PML and allied 
parties reiterated their full support to the people of Kashmir in 
their just struggle for their right to self-determination, the 
resolution added.

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20000204
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Pilot deposes in court: PK-805 was refused landing in Pakistan
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Reporter

KARACHI, Feb 3: The pilot of the flight PK-805, carrying General 
Pervez Musharraf and 197 others on board on Oct 12 last year, 
deposed on Thursday in the anti-terrorism court No. 1 that he would 
not have landed at the Karachi airport without ascertaining the 
identity of Maj-Gen Iftikhar, general officer commanding (GOC) of 
Karachi, who had assured that the runway was clear for landing.

While being cross-examined by the defence attorney, the ninth 
prosecution witness in the plane hijacking case, pilot Captain Syed 
Sarwat Hussain of PK- 805 testified before ATC-1 Judge Rahmat 
Hussain Jafferi that he had in fact requested the chief of army 
staff to ascertain the identity of the "person claiming to be Maj-
Gen Iftikhar."

"I had 198 passengers on board with limited fuel and if I was not 
allowed to land at Karachi or Nawabshah and refuel the aircraft, it 
would have crashed soon," he said.

To a suggestion put by defence counsel Khawaja Sultan, the pilot of 
PK-805 said it was incorrect that Gen Pervez Musharraf wanted to 
ascertain the identity of the GOC Karachi. "In fact, the identity 
of Maj-Gen Iftikhar was confirmed at my request," he added.

He agreed to the suggestion of the defence counsel to the effect 
that before Gen Musharraf talked to Maj-Gen Iftikhar, the air 
traffic control had asked him to contact the control tower, where 
General Iftikhar was present.

However, he said, it was incorrect to suggest that he deliberately 
suppressed the contents of the talk the COAS had with the GOC 
Karachi from the cockpit of the aircraft.

Earlier during the cross-examination, the pilot of PK-805 did not 
agree to the suggestion of the defence counsel that he was 
contacted by Captain Shahnawaz Dara who instructed him to go to 
Nawabshah at the time when he learnt that Karachi and Nawabshah 
airports were closed for the flight.

He, however, agreed to the suggestion of Khawaja Sultan that he 
received a message from the air traffic control to proceed to 
Nawabshah airport for landing after he received instructions from 
Capt Dara.

He also said it was correct to suggest that he had sufficient fuel 
to land the aircraft at Nawabshah airport or return to Karachi when 
he was midway between Karachi and Nawabshah.

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20000202 
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IMF to focus on Pakistan's debt profile
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By Haris Anwar

KARACHI, Feb 1: Pakistan's ability to meet its international debt 
obligations on time is the core issue the International Monetary 
Fund (IMF) would be taking up with the Islamabad, official sources 
said.

Pakistan is expecting an IMF mission soon to start negotiations on 
a stalled-credit programme. Its technical team is already in the 
town to review fiscal and monetary targets.

Sources said, given the worsening current-account deficit 
Pakistan's chances of resuming normal debt servicing from January 
2001 were getting slimmer. December 2000 will mark the end of a 
consolidation period as agreed with the Paris Club of creditors. 
But the payment on certain portions of the rescheduled commercial 
debt will fall due much before that.

Pakistan has to pay 80 per cent of over $1.2 billion swap funds 
rolled over by the foreign banks in the last quarter of 2000, while 
the payment for the remaining 20 per cent has already started.

Similarly, trade-related facilities have been negotiated on a 
bilateral basis and do not coincide with the Paris Club's repayment 
schedule.

Half-way into the current fiscal year, Pakistan's trade deficit 
stands at $783 million against the full year's target of $800 
million; foreign investment fell to $306 million compared to $376 
million, and remittances to $432 million from $488 million in the 
first half of 1998-99.

Official and independent sources are of the view that the calm 
prevailing in the exchange rate markets indicates difficult days 
ahead, as the government will have to take certain steps to build 
its case for an extension in the debt relief period.

Last year, Pakistan faced a financing gap of over $4 billion on its 
external payments, but it did not pay this amount, because of space 
provided by the bilateral and commercial debt rescheduling.

But what is worrying the authorities is how to rehabilitate 
Pakistan's ability to meet a similar or a larger financing gap 
without access to commercial credit abroad.

Interviews with the officials and market players suggest the 
government is determined to maintain a trade-off between the 
deteriorating balance of payment and a a stable exchange rate.

At this stage, it is reluctant to use the exchange rate to reduce 
its current account deficit. "We feel that our real effective 
exchange rate is not overvalued; so altering the exchange rate to 
increase exports and reduce imports won't work," one official 
observed.

With the CPI inflation just over three per cent on a year-to-year 
basis, the authorities feel that the inflation differential, a 
major indicator for the exchange rate adjustment, vis-a-vis 
Pakistan's major trading partners, is not alarming at this stage.

Official sources believe that the scope of import containment 
through an exchange rate adjustment has become relatively small. 
"We have observed that its impact on imports is only for a short 
period, and this year the imports, which have been picking up, are 
not sensitive to price," an official said.

Petroleum products, 24.6 per cent of the total import bill in the 
first half of 1999-2000, remain the single largest item on the 
increasing import bill. While the quantity of crude imports 
actually declined 6.69 per cent on year-to-year basis, its average 
per unit cost rose by 81.46 per cent.

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20000131
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Subversive activities: Musharraf stresses effective police role
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Reporter

KARACHI, Jan 30: Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf has directed 
all agencies and police to remain alert and improve their 
efficiency to check sabotage activities.

He also stressed the need for seeking cooperation of the people in 
this regard by creating awareness among them through the electronic 
and print media about the need to keep a watchful eye on subversive 
elements, and to inform the police whenever they found or see any 
person leaving some a packet or a pipe.

Gen Musharraf issued these directives at a meeting held at the 
Governor's House on Sunday. After the meeting, which lasted over 
three hours, Interior Minister Lt-Gen Moinuddin Haider briefed the 
newsmen about the decisions.

Mr Haider said that this was the second meeting where a 
comprehensive briefing was given to the chief executive on the 
overall law and order situation in Sindh, with particular reference 
to Karachi, police performance, traffic issues and problems being 
faced by people. He directed the IG Police, Aftab Nabi to restore 
confidence of people at the earliest.

Earlier, at the meeting held on Saturday at the Corps Headquarters, 
issues being faced by people were discussed in the light of the 
briefing given by the monitoring team.

While at the meeting held at the Governor's House,the chief 
secretary, the home secretary and the IG Police assisted the 
Governor Mohammad Daudpota at the briefing.

The interior minister said the series of bomb blasts in Karachi and 
other parts of the country recently were very unfortunate, and 
precious lives were lost. "They are part of terrorism. Pakistan is 
victim of terrorism, and the enemy is using our people for its 
nefarious designs. People ought to be vigilant and cooperate. They 
would be educated against acts of terrorism in mosques, bazaars, at 
bus terminals and other public places, and police phone lines 
should be available so that such devices could be defused."

In reply to a question, he said that an Indian national arrested 
recently in Mirpur had confessed that he was trained in India and 
money paid to him to carry out bomb blasts in Pakistan.

Recalling the bomb blasts in Lahore, Sialkot and Mirpur, he said 
they were being investigated and necessary steps being taken to 
check further recurrence. He said that in the backdrop of Indian 
hostilities, we suspect Indian hands in bomb blasts in Karachi.

Responding to a question, he said the government had no information 
about involvement of the PML in sabotage activities. He said he had 
no report about existing of any organization with the name of Al-
Nawaz Group. The PML leadership had made it repeatedly clear that 
their party did not want any confrontation with the army as the 
national interest was supreme.

Reviewing the police attitude, prosecution skills and pursuing of 
cases, the chief executive gave clear directives for taking 
objective and realistic short- and-long term steps to improve the 
police performance and its image in the public.

Mr Haider said the chief executive had asked the IG, DIG and SHOs 
to remove their weaknesses and take disciplinary action against 
irresponsible police officials.

PEACE COMMITTEES: The interior minister said that in order to 
remove public complaints a list of notables would be prepared to 
induct them on peace committees. These committees would have access 
to SHOs, SDMs and DCs. The committees would convey their 
observations and complaints to the army monitoring teams to rectify 
them

Besides, he said, a team would be constituted consisting of 
magistrate, army officer, and notable to inspect one police station 
and a prison in a month.

He said the proposed prison reforms also came under discussion as 
there were many prisoners whose cases had not been decided although 
they had completed the period of the sentence which they could face 
if convicted. He said such cases would continue to be reviewed. 
Already on Eid-ul-Fitr, in Sindh some 2,000 prisoners benefited 
from the review. Out of the 2,000, 350 were released from Karachi 
prisons.

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20000202
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Dispute with Sindh: Wapda rejects decision on power bills
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Bureau Report

ISLAMABAD, Feb 1: The decision given by Justice (Retd) Shafi-ur-
Rehman in a dispute between Water and Power Development Authority 
(Wapda) and the government of Sindh over the outstanding 
electricity bills has been rejected by the former as it has decided 
to challenge the same in a court.

Wapda in a first step for challenging the decision of the 
arbitrator has already gone to the court of civil judge Islamabad 
where the award will be filed on Feb 3.

The civil court has issued notices to the government of Sindh.

Mr Ilyas Khan advocate, counsel of Wapda when asked by this 
correspondent whether a decision given by a retired judge of 
Supreme Court can be challenged in a court of much lower level, 
said that there was no legal bar on them for taking up the issue in 
a lower court.

Wapda, he said, has serious reservations over the decision given by 
Mr Rehman after hearing both the parties over several months.

Mr Ilyas said that after going through the formality of filing the 
case in civil court Wapda would file its objections on the award.

He claimed that the interim award was inconsistent with the final 
award, which he said would be the first and foremost objection of 
Wapda on the award.

In the interim award the arbitrator had admitted that 55 percent of 
the Wapda's claim was just but in the final award there had been 
some mis-calculations.

He said arbitrator had ruled that 25 per cent of the theft and 
pilferage should be recovered from the beneficiaries, which he 
added was not appropriate. Different departments of government of 
Sindh had been responsible for the unauthorised connections or 
theft therefore the government of Sindh should pay for that, he 
added.

Mr Ilyas was of the view that the amount of evidence furnished by 
the Wapda during the course of hearing had not been fully 
appreciated in the final verdict.

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20000202
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Pakistan not on Clinton's itinerary
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Shaheen Sehbai

WASHINGTON, Feb 1: The White House announced on Wednesday the long-
expected visit of President Bill Clinton to India and Bangladesh, 
skipping out Pakistan, at least for the moment.

The president will visit India from March 20 for five days and will 
arrive in Bangladesh on March 25. Simultaneous announcements were 
also made in New Delhi and Dhaka.

" I am looking forward to the visit to India and our two countries 
have tremendous economic potential," Mr Clinton said when asked at 
a news conference held at the White House on Tuesday morning.

" He will be the first president to visit India since 1978 and the 
first ever to visit Bangladesh," the White House announcement said. 
"No decisions have been made about other stops," the announcement 
said in obvious reference to Pakistan, which was also originally 
part of the South Asian visit.

The announcement came after several weeks of hectic diplomacy 
between Pakistan and the US, including visits by several senators 
and senior administration officials, failed to provide sufficient 
justification for the White House to include Islamabad in the 
president's itinerary.

" Channels are still open between the two sides to provide some 
plausible reason for the president to at least make a stopover in 
Pakistan as Mr Clinton personally wants not to exclude this 
important country in a historic trip that he wanted to make as a 
peacemaker and trend-setter," a South Asian expert said.

The White House announcement also spoke of "other stops," but a 
Pakistani source said it had not yet been clarified what was 
actually meant by that, whether the president wanted just to stop 
over in Pakistan or stay for some time. But that will be putting 
the horse before the cart as a decision has to be made whether he 
will go to Pakistan first.

Pakistan's ambassador to the US Dr Maleeha Lodhi toldDawn that 
Pakistan had been told that a visit was still under consideration.

Asked whether any specific steps had been sought by the White House 
to enable the visit, the ambassador said a visit by a president was 
his prerogative and there could be no bargaining over it.

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20000203
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Five judges elevated to SC
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Bureau Report

ISLAMABAD, Feb 2: The government elevated five judges to the 
Supreme Court on Wednesday.

According to a notification, the president has appointed Justice 
Rashid Aziz, Chief Justice, Lahore High Court; Justice Nazim 
Hussain Siddiqui, Chief Justice Sindh High Court; Justice Iftikhar 
Mohammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice, Balochistan High Court; Qazi 
Farooq, former chief justice of Peshawar High Court; and Justice 
Rana Bhagwan Das, judge, Sindh High Court, judges of the Supreme 
Court.

After the elevation of Justice Rashid Aziz Khan to the SC, Justice 
Mohammad Allah Nawaz has been appointed Chief Justice of Lahore 
High Court.

Justice Deedar Hussain Shah has been appointed Chief Justice of 
Sindh High Court and Justice Javed Iqbal Chief Justice of 
Balochistan High Court. After these appointments, the number of SC 
judges has risen to 12, leaving five posts vacant.

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000204
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Electoral law being changed: CE
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ISLAMABAD, Feb 3: The Chief Executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, has 
said that his government is giving autonomous status to Federal 
Public Service Commission (FPSC).

"Induction will be absolutely on merit. There will be no 
recruitment on ad hoc basis," Gen Musharraf said in an interview 
with PTV telecast on Thursday night.

He said recruitment from grade 11 onward, including SHOs, would be 
done through FPSC and thus will be merit-oriented.

He said the government intended to revive the Efficiency and 
Discipline Act in full play. "There will be concentration on career 
planning, progression and training." 

The chief executive said the devolution of power to district level 
and ameliorating the lot of downtrodden and poor people of the 
country was the basic objective of his government.

He said that his government would devolve power to the district 
level and make them self-supporting. It will be, he said, a four-
dimensional framework: 1) right people are elected and they take 
control of district government; 2) providing justice to the people 
at their doorsteps; 3) making districts financially autonomous; and 
4) to devise a mechanism to weed out the corrupt and incompetent 
members of the district bodies.

The districts would be able to raise finances themselves in areas 
to be determined by the government to meet their needs, the CE 
said.

He said the poor districts would be provided assistance.

He added the government would ensure that the right people were 
elected to the district bodies. "For this purpose, some sort of 
electoral reforms would be effected".

ACCOUNTABILITY: To a question, Gen Musharraf said the 
accountability process may look slow but the government working was 
not. The CE said he agreed to a degree that the process of 
accountability was not as fast as he desired. But, he said, it had 
two major reasons.

Firstly, he said, "conversion of information into evidence for 
prosecution purposes is difficult. "We don't have capable 
prosecutors and investigators of white collar crime."


=================================================================== 
 BUSINESS & ECONOMY
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20000203
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World Bank for merger of private banks
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Mohiuddin Aazim

KARACHI, Feb 2: The World Bank thinks it is time for Pakistani 
private banks to go for mergers: the visiting WB mission has told 
this to State Bank officials as well as to heads of local private 
banks. The State Bank agrees with it and is planning to increase 
the paid-up capital requirement for private banks to compel them to 
seek mergers, where necessary.

A source close to SBP said the issue came under discussion at a 
meeting between the mission and senior SBP officials here last 
week. "The officials told the mission that SBP may increase the 
paid-up capital requirement to compel small private banks to go for 
mergers." At present the minimum paid-up capital required for a 
private bank is Rs500 million.

A senior banker said members of the mission raised the issue of 
mergers also at a meeting with Chairman Badr-ud-Din Khan of Gulf 
Commercial Bank and other members of New Private Scheduled Banks 
Association here last week.

"The members of the mission were of the view it is time for us to 
seek mergers where necessary."

A World Bank financial assessment mission led by Joseph Pernia is 
currently on an official visit to Pakistan to see how banks are 
performing after three years of banking sector reforms. The reforms 
began in 1997 with financial assistance from World Bank.

As part of these reforms private banks were asked to raise their 
paid-up capital from Rs300 million to Rs500 million by the end of 

December 1997. Now all private commercial banks minus one have 
paid-up capital of Rs500 million or more. Indus Bank continues to 
operate with a Rs300 million paid-up capital amid warnings from SBP 
to enhance it.

SBP Governor Dr Ishrat Husain has already asked private banks to 
seek mergers and be viable enough to compete with large state-run 
commercial banks. Barely a fortnight after taking over the office 
of SBP governor in December last he told heads of private banks to 
explore this possibility.

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20000203
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Customs introduces electronic assessment system
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KARACHI, Feb 2: The Collectorate of Customs (Appraisment) has 
introduced "Electronic Assessment System" (EASY) for the assessment 
of bills of entry effective from February.

Under EASY, on presentation, the bill of entries relating to 
selected items/importers will be entered in the computer at the 
Customer Service centre.

The computer will automatically assess the liability of duties and 
taxes and the process of manifestation and assessment of the bill 
of entry will be completed simultaneously in the Custom Service 
Centre.

After this the importer/clearing agent will straight away proceed 
to make payment of duties and taxes in the Cash branch. There will 
be no need now to take the entry to Appraising groups for 
assessment.

After payment of taxes, the importer/clearing agent will take 
delivery from the port after examination.

According to the Collectorate press release, this system aims at 
expeditious assessment of bills of entry, reduction of contract 
between tax officer and tax payer, reliance on automation for 
assessment and simplification of procedure.

In the first phase almost over one hundred 
importers/firms/multinational companies, who are listed for 
"Express Lane Facility", alongwith imports made by Public Sector 
organizations viz Federal/Provincial governments/state-owned 
corporations/local bodies and universities etc are being dealt 
under "EASY" scheme.

This system is also available in respect of goods which are liable 
to zero percent rate of duty or specific rates of duty. The 
appraising group will now carry out post clearance confirmation of 
the assessment.

The procedure and list of eligible importers/items has not only 
been circulated but the same is also being made available on 
internet (on CBR's Web Site) as well as these are on display on 
monitors of Customers Service Centre.-APP

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20000202
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Minister hints at rise in medicine prices
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ISLAMABAD, Feb 1: Federal Health Minister Dr.Abdul Malik Kasi has 
hinted at a seven-to-10 per cent increase in drug prices.

Talking to the APP here, he said the matter had been referred to 
the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) for consideration. He 
said that after the ECC's decision, the issue of increase in drug 
prices would be moved to the cabinet for final decision.

About formulation of new price adjustment mechanism on case-to-case 
basis, he said the proposal was discussed but later dropped on 
account of multiple reasons.

"There was no increase in drugs prices since 1996 despite the 
government's agreement to allow price increase on a yearly basis," 
he said.

The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) and 
the Pharma Bureau, an umbrella organisation of 24 multinational 
companies, were demanding 40 per cent price increase for drugs but 
the demand was turned down by the ministry.

Dr. Kasi said the health ministry had proposed to allow seven to 10 
per cent increase in the prices in order to protect the consumers.

Drug manufacturers claimed in their representation to the health 
ministry that after 1996, dollar value against Pakistan currency 
was enhanced by 100% while devaluation, enhancement in taxes, 
increase in utility bills, price increase in raw material, increase 
in fuel and electricity charges and increase in excise and customs 
duty had minimised the profit margin.

 The minister said that drug manufacturers were facing serious 
problems which should be resolved.

He said Rs.40 billion pharmaceutical trade was shrinking as after 
1996, investment in pharmaceutical industry was slow and trivial.

He said the present government was considering to give some relief 
to the drug manufacturing industry but, at the same time, the 
national interests, including those of the common man, would be 
protected.

To a question, he said the government had not only resisted price 
increase in medicines for the last four years but also reduced the 
prices of 75 drugs.-APP

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000205 
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'GST levy at retail level from next fiscal year'
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Ihtashamul Haque

ISLAMABAD, Feb 4: Minister for Finance, Shaukat Aziz has said that 
the mechanism for adoption of General Sales Tax (GST), at retail 
level, has been simplified and made practicable to be recovered at 
all cost from the next financial year.

Aziz also disclosed that a decision has been taken to have only 
three federal taxes i.e. income tax, sales tax and customs duty.

He said that the small traders have been told and are still being 
told that they would have to pay this GST from the year 2000-2001.

Talking to a group of reporters here on Friday he said that 
Pakistan's tax base was very weak and needed to be widened for 
which the small traders should support the government.

He said that the government was reaching out to the retailers and 
was telling them to get ready for paying the GST as was the 
practised the world over. He said by large the traders community 
would be ready to pay this GST for which one senior official of the 
CBR Raiz Malik was currently meeting all the concerned people.

"We are sorting out the remaining few technical problems related to 
Gross Profit (GP) rate of the income tax", the finance minister 
said adding that small traders were being given new system to pay 
the much waited GST.

Talking about the income tax, the finance minister said that the 
government was currently working on four industries which included 
textiles, sugar, cement and beverages to have their fair 
assessment. "As a first step new income tax commissionirates are 
being set to recover full income tax from these four industries", 
he said.

Aziz claimed that the element of corruption was being removed in 
the recovery of income tax. "Is not unjustified that one textile 
owner who has a factory of 25,000 spindles is paying income tax for 
example Rs50,000 in Peshawar, why should another person pay just 
Rs25000 or Rs30,000 by having the same spindle units in his factory 
in some other part of the country", he asked.

"The current year is a year of income tax assessment on which we 
are doing all our work and from the next financial year new income 
tax policy will be enforced effectively", the finance minister 
said.

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20000201
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Sindh raises wheat price by Rs50 per 100kg
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By Mohiuddin Azim & Ikram Hoti

KARACHI, Jan 31: The Sindh Food Department has raised the price of 
wheat from Rs625 to Rs675 per 100 kg from Jan 24. This has come as 
a second price-push factor after a 15 per cent general sales tax on 
electricity effective from January 2000.

The flour millers in Karachi say they are ready to absorb the 
resultant increase in the cost of production but they do not rule 
out an upward revision of wheat flour in future.

"For the time being we will absorb the increase in our cost of 
production due to increased wheat price and GST," said former 
Chairman of All-Pakistan Flour Mills Association Sheikh Akhtar 
Hussain. Nevertheless, flour millers say some of them had already 
raised the prices of wheat flour after coming to know that the 
government was going to impose GST on electricity. They say that an 
80-kg bag of wheat flour is currently selling for Rs800-820 up from 
Rs780-Rs800 two weeks ago.

The millers say 10-kg and 20-kg bags of wheat flour are selling for 
Rs125 and Rs245 respectively up from Rs110 and Rs215 about a 
fortnight ago.

"The reason why the flour millers say they are going to absorb the 
increase in their cost of production is that they have already 
raised the prices of atta," said a local miller who declined to be 
identified. Those who charge higher prices for their brands of 
wheat flour do so on the pretext of better quality, he said.

The officially fixed price for 10-kg and 20-kg bags of wheat flour 
is Rs90 and Rs180 respectively. For an 80-kg bag of wheat flour, 
the price was last fixed at Rs680 in Ramazan and it has not been 
revised since then. Market sources say whereas the 10-kg and 20-kg 
bags of wheat flour (of inferior quality) are seen selling at their 
officially-fixed prices at weekly bazars, the 80-kg bag cannot be 
purchased at the official price from anywhere in town.

Karachi-based flour millers say the amount of wheat supplied to 
them is not more than 50 per cent of their total requirement and 
they get the remaining 50 per cent from the open market at a very 
high price. They say whereas the official price of wheat is now 
Rs675 per 100 kg, the open market price is more than Rs900 per 100 
kg. They say the huge difference between official and open market 
prices often lead to misuse of wheat quota and smuggling.

"In Punjab, the official price of wheat is still Rs650 per 100 kg 
and the open market is slightly more than Rs700. That is why atta 
is cheaper there," says Sheikh Akhtar Hussain. Punjab-based flour 
mills on Monday announced to raise retail wheat flour price to 
Rs160 per 20-kg attributing the price-hike to GST. The new price is 
still much lower than in Karachi where a 20-kg bag of wheat flour 
sells for Rs215.

Karachi-based millers say they get lesser wheat at the official 
price, which is one reason why wheat flour is always dearer in 
Karachi than in the Punjab.

Officials of Sindh Food Department say the department supplies 
wheat to all flour mills keeping in view their last year's offtake 
in a particular month. In January, the department supplied 64,000 
tonnes of wheat to 50 and odd mills in Karachi and 6000 tonnes to 
chakki owners and Utility Stores Corporation.

The millers say their requirement is more than 100,000 tonnes per 
month. They say the department has also stopped fresh allocation of 
wheat quota for the time being.

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20000201
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Active trading witnessed on cotton market
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Reporter

KARACHI, Jan 31: Cotton market on Monday passed through another 
actively traded session as spinners were not inclined to sit on the 
sidelines amid market talk of further increase in prices.

All the lots offered for sale by ginners were readily picked up by 
spinners irrespective of asking prices, the highest rate being paid 
for the southern Punjab variety was at Rs1,850.00 per maund without 
15% sales tax.

Floor brokers said, although active buying by the mills appears to 
be chief aiding factor behind the current price flare-up, the 
reports of higher phutti prices was main factor behind the bullish 
trend.

'Phutti prices soared to seasonal highs of Rs900.00 per 40 kg on 
Monday, having sympathetic bullish impact on the ready lint rates', 
they added.

Although most of the small growers have sold their stock some two 
months back after prices fell to Rs400.00 per 40 kg, how much 
phutti is left with the growers is pretty difficult to say about 
the total.

According to market sources, leading growers of upper Sindh and the 
southern Punjab have been holding on to their positions 
anticipating increase in prices at the fag-end of the season are 
now bringing their unsold stock to the ginneries at the higher 
rates.

'If the unsold stocks now reaching the ginneries are substantial, 
the original crop estimate of 10m bales may be achieved', said a 
leading broker.

The behaviour of prices in physical trading will, during the next 
couple of days, reflects the size of the unsold stocks of phutti 
and their likely impact on the prevailing prices, he added.

Official spot rates for the fine varieties were marked further 
higher by Rs25.00, while NIAB variety from the lower Sindh cotton 
belt was traded at the last level.

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20000201
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Monopoly Control Authority in 'limbo'
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Muhammad Ilyas

ISLAMABAD, Jan 31: Monopoly Control Authority (MCA) is virtually in 
limbo due to the indifference of government authorities over its 
potential for promotion of healthy competition in the development 
of market economy, particularly in electronic commerce, independent 
economists here observed.

The government, it seems, is not only insensitive to the 
implications but has also adopted the line of least resistance. 
What particularly worrisome is the attitude adopted by government 
agencies towards MCA.

MCA was created in 1970 after countrywide agitation by the people 
who rejected the trickle-down policy which allowed the rise of 
cartels and monopolies. This state of affairs had given rise to an 
acute sense of alienation among the people who felt deprived of the 
benefits of development in the preceding decade, it was realised.

The arguments that allowed the monopolization of fruits of 
development pervades the official thinking again, they noted. As if 
they had learned nothing from the experience. Yet, the lack of 
competition which shows that practices that stifle competition only 
create, far from making the country conducive to entrepreneurship, 
deters investment, they pointed out.

Talking to various officials in the ministries of finance, 
industries, commerce etc, the sense one obtains is that they treat 
the companies as sacred cows, irrespective of their recalcitrant 
behaviour in terms of inefficiency, violation of rules, persistent 
default in taxes and debt repayment and so on.

That not even the Microsoft Corporation, one of the top companies 
of the world, is not a "sacred cow" was proved recently by a court 
in the United States, its position as the doyen of classical 
capitalist countries notwithstanding.

Last year when MCA ordered cement industries to break their cartel 
and withdraw the price hike following agreement to halve their 
production, the government agencies stood by the cartel.

A basic characteristic of free market, as an independent economy 
pointed out, is fair competition. Those companies which cannot 
stand such competition have either to improve their performance in 
terms of better and cheaper products/services or simply vanish. In 
Pakistan, however, some of our industrialists want to eat the cake 
and have it too.

After the courts had refused to intervene in the decision of the 
MCA, it was the government which tried to sabotage the attempt by 
the authority to make the cement industrialists behave in 
accordance with the law. The court was told that the government had 
come to an understanding with the industrialists and that they had 
agreed to implement the decision of MCA. Infact,however, there was 
no reduction in prices.

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20000202 
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Govt to rationalize tariff on 20 industries
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Ihtashamul Haque

ISLAMABAD, Feb 1: The government has decided to rationalize the 
import tariff of 20 industries to make them internationally 
competitive.

"We are finalizing a policy to rationalize the import tariff of 
about 20 industries by accepting some of the genuine demands of the 
exporters", said the additional secretary ministry of commerce 
Suliman Khan. "I cannot offer more details on it at this stage".

Speaking at a news conference here on Tuesday in connection with 
the completion of 100 days of the government, he said that a number 
of important committees had been set up to make the country's 
textile industry competitive specially when all textile quota 
regimes will end in the year 2004 under the Word Trade Organisation 
(WTO) decision.

He said Pakistan will have to face a tough competition in the year 
2004 for which all preparations have started specially with the 
setting of a major committee headed by an industrialist Tariq 
Sehgol.

Khan was confident that Pakistan's current volume of textile and 
textile mad ups will be increased from about 2.5 billion dollar 
annually to 8 to 9 billion dollar before the year 2004. "Nothing 
has been firmed up so far but I can say that we will be able 
stretch our textile exports nearly to 9 billion dollar within next 
few years time", he added.

Khan said that new markets were being found out for Pakistan's 
exports. Also, he said thatthe country's exports were being 
diversified specially by going into value addition. He said that 
exports target of 9 billion dollar for the 1999-2000 will be 
achieved.

Talking about imports, Khan, who was flanked by joint secretary and 
the spokesman of the ministry of commerce Nasim Quraishi and the 
economic consultant on WTO affairs Zameer, said that trade 
imbalance was being reduced by discouraging the import of consumer 
goods and non essential items. He said that the government has 
allowed the import of machinery and industrial raw materials to 
have greater industrial activity. "We had imposed 35 per cent LC 
margin on the import of non essential items and consumer goods 
which had helped us to have our trade imbalance narrowed", he said.

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20000203
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CBR collects Rs186bn revenue in 7 months
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Correspondent

ISLAMABAD, Feb 2: Central Board of Revenue (CBR) has collected 
Rs186bn in seven months of the financial year, with the original 
target set at Rs380bn for '99-2000.

The remaining Rs194bn would have to be collected infive months, at 
the rate of Rs38.8bn per month. By the end of Jan 2000, the average 
collection amounted to Rs26.42bn per month.

CBR officials hope that since the last two quarters of each 
financial year witness comparatively increased revenue, the 
collection as per target will not be an extraordinary task.

The ST department has made a collection of Rs 31.5bn in the first 
seven months of the fiscal year, against a target of Rs 120bn for 
12 months. In Jan 2000, its net collection was Rs 10.3bn, after 
paying Rs 2.423bn in refunds. The domestic ST collection in January 
was Rs 4.53bn while the import related collection was Rs 5.77bn. In 
the first seven months, the ST department has paid up refunds of Rs 
13.6bn.

The Income Tax, Customs and Central Excise departments have 
recorded deposits of Rs 17.7bn, collectively. The Central Excise 
coffers have Rs30bn, for the first seven months. Customs collection 
during the month of January receded to Rs 4.7bn.

Back to the top
=================================================================== 
 EDITORIALS & FEATURES
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000205 
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The view from Washington	
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Irfan Husain

THE news that Bill Clinton will visit India and Bangladesh while 
skipping Pakistan has come like a stinging slap in the face.

To be excluded from an American president's first visit to the 
region in a quarter century is a decision that will no doubt be 
greeted with disguised disappointment in many quarters, while 
others will pretend insouciance, and say, "So what?" So plenty. 
Like it or not, Washington is more pivotal than ever before in the 
global shape of things. Anyone who thinks differently is living in 
a fool's paradise. Unless we want to be relegated to the 
Afghanistan and Rwanda category of failed states, we have to engage 
the United States constructively. The alternative is to sulk on the 
sidelines and watch the rest of the world move on.

With the demise of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a unipolar 
system where the US calls most of the shots, ideological 
considerations no longer sway decision-makers in Washington. Where 
earlier the Americans were happy to do business with dictators like 
Zia-ul-Haq in Pakistan and Pinochet in Chile, now they are no 
longer concerned about a communist threat and therefore use 
different criteria to decide which countries to support.

Having comprehensively defeated the Soviet Union and buried 
communism, policy-makers in Washington now seek to establish 
stability and secure smooth and friction-free global trade. This is 
aimed at ensuring a continuous expansion of the American economy 
and the well-being of the American people as well as shareholders 
in USA, Inc. As multinationals - mostly American - merge and 
expand, they seek new markets as well as cheap raw materials and 
labour. Anybody threatening the health of the American economy does 
so at his own peril. Had Saddam Hussein invaded an empty desert 
instead of oil-rich Kuwait - thus also threatening an even oil-
richer Saudi Arabia - there would have been no desert Storm and the 
subsequent (and continuing) pounding of the Iraqi people.

Many Pakistanis are of the opinion that the American refusal to 
intervene in South Asia over Kashmir is somehow 'unfair'. While 
welcoming them to the real world, let me remind them that life 
itself is grossly unfair. How fair is life for the have-nots of 
this world? When faced with a larger predator, animals do not ask 
for justice; they just run. The fact is that Islam and Muslims have 
a very serious image problem in the West. Some of it is an 
atavistic response to the stereotypes generated during the 
Crusades, but the real damage has been done by Muslims themselves 
during the latter part of the last century. Palestinian militants, 
Iranian hostage-takers; Taliban holy warriors; and now Kashmiri 
hijackers have all contributed to building a composite picture of 
hirsute fanatics killing innocent bystanders for distant, 
incomprehensible causes.

I am not suggesting that these images are necessarily accurate; 
nevertheless, they have been etched on the retinas of the American 
public by a mass media that is more concerned about instant sound-
bites, newspaper sales and television ratings than about accuracy 
and fairness. Also, we are so consumed by Kashmir that we assume 
that the issue looms just as large on everybody else's horizon. The 
reality is that most Americans would be hard-pressed to point to 
Kashmir on a map of the world.

As far as policy-makers at the State Department and the White House 
are concerned, if a choice has to be made between antagonizing 
India or Pakistan, obviously the latter will suffer. India is a 
huge market; tens of thousands of American tourists visit it every 
year; it has no image problem with the American voter; and now that 
it has embraced economic liberalization as its guiding mantra, 
there is no longer an ideological gap between the two countries. 
Pakistan, by contrast, carries some heavy baggage: we are no longer 
a democracy; we support the Taliban who are viewed in the West as a 
fanatical rabble that oppresses women; we are seen as arming and 
training Kashmiri guerillas who have taken to killing innocent 
civilians as well as kidnapping and killing western tourists; and 
we have been bullying western businessmen who had invested in 
Pakistan.

Indeed, over the years, military dictators, religious zealots, 
heroin smugglers and illegal emigrants have chipped away at 
Pakistan's image abroad to the point that the Kenyan High 
Commissioner in Islamabad cannot issue a visa to a Pakistani 
without clearance from Nairobi. Visas for most countries are 
extremely difficult to obtain as far too many Pakistanis do not 
return once they are abroad. A green passport is one of the worst 
travel documents around.

Currently, Washington is leaning on us over several issues. The 
foremost among them is the demand to ban the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen 
as it is alleged to have been behind the Indian Airlines hijacking. 
Secondly, the Americans would like us to press the Taliban to hand 
over Osama bin Laden, the bete noir of the American establishment. 
Thirdly, they want us to sign the CTBT. Next, the State Department 
wants some kind of timetable for a return to democracy. And 
finally, they and the World Bank want the Pakistan government to 
sort out the Independent Power Producers' mess.

This, broadly speaking, is the American agenda for Pakistan. So 
far, we have refused to engage them on any single point. But it is 
high time we got real: we live in a world inter-connected at many 
levels, and most of the nodes are in Washington, whether we like it 
or not. Take, for example, the Indian campaign to persuade the 
Americans to declare Pakistan a terrorist state. The "so what?" 
school of thought is naively convinced that this would not affect 
us. The reality is that our limping economy would be shattered, and 
we would be virtually isolated by crippling sanctions. Even oil-
rich countries like Libya and Iran have suffered huge deprivations 
after being put on the list of terrorist states.

While Clinton's visit would be largely symbolic, it would signal to 
the world that we are not (yet) a pariah nation. Presidential 
visits are usually accompanied by a flurry of agreements, and our 
ravaged economy could do with any boost it can get. On the other 
hand, if Clinton skips Pakistan on his South Asian junket, our 
diplomatic isolation would be virtually complete.

But quite apart from addressing American concerns, the fact is that 
all the items on the agenda are things we should be doing because 
they are good for us, irrespective of Washington's demands. 
Cracking down on reactionary militias is something that should have 
been done long ago; signing the CTBT, too, would bring us back into 
the mainstream of nations without weakening our defence in any way; 
we need to settle the outstanding problems with foreign investors; 
and we must distance ourselves from the obscurantist Taliban. And 
as far as a return to democracy is concerned, this demand is 
already being made within Pakistan, and will only become louder 
with time.

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000205 
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The undiluted triumph of the bayonet
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Ayaz Amir

WHEN Nawaz Sharif was deposed and General Pervez Musharraf, in 
order to set the country on the right path, unfurled his seven-
point agenda (does anyone still remember the exact points?), the 
national scene stood denuded of everything except the confluence of 
two factors: the might of the army and the hopes of the people.

The political parties, having brought on their own bankruptcy, did 
not matter. The higher judiciary, never one to fly in the face of 
reality, did not count. On the lengthening plains there stood only 
the people and their army.

Whether or not General Musharraf was in any way embarrassed by the 
burden of hope thus placed on his shoulders, it is scarcely an 
exaggeration to say that in the first few weeks following the 
takeover of October 12 he was looked upon by the vast majority of 
the Pakistani people as the messiah whose coming had long been 
awaited.

What was it that the people of Pakistan did not expect in those 
halcyon days? A clampdown on corruption, the start of a merciless 
accountability drive, the chastening spectacle of mighty heads 
rolling in the dust and, withal, the Pakistani nation, its pride 
restored, setting out with powerful strides on the road to progress 
and prosperity.

The two factors mentioned above reinforced each other: the nation's 
hopes brought a glistening sheen to the army's bayonets while the 
army's undisputed authority seemed to be a guarantee that the 
nation's wild hopes (for wild those indeed were) would be 
fulfilled.

In the more than a hundred days that have passed since that season 
of unmixed hope the scales have fallen from Pakistani eyes leading 
to a more measured and judicious accounting of the benefits or 
otherwise of military rule.

The first jolt came with the appointment of governors, ministers 
and members of the National Security Council, the last a hyped-up 
body whose functions are still unclear. Although imposing monuments 
to mediocrity have been raised in this country before, never was 
this done in so unambiguous a manner. Even if the deliberate aim 
was to make dismal selection an uncontested virtue, what actually 
came about could not have been improved upon.

But with the nation more than willing to give the military 
government a chance the celebratory mood lasted. It began to end 
when it slowly dawned upon the people of Pakistan that while the 
military government was full of good intentions it seemed to lack 
vision and a clear plan of action.

With no grand design before it, it is hardly surprising if there 
has been an obsessive preoccupation with day-to-day tasks: the 
desilting of canals, the sending of monitoring teams to districts 
(to remove encroachments and restrict unlawful bus addas) and an 
accountability drive which began with a splash but soon petered out 
like a military offensive running into the sand. Far be it from 
anyone to deny the importance or usefulness of tasks such as canal 
desilting. But if this be all that the military government has to 
show for itself in its first crucial months in office, scant 
justification is furnished for a full-blooded military coup.

General Musharraf, arguably, still retains his aura of bluff 
sincerity. But it is only so far that his government can travel on 
the strength of this asset alone. The only justification of 
military rule (apart, of course, from brute force) is performance 
and when performance is desultory legitimacy is called into 
question.

Maybe, in the inner sanctum of the government grand plans exist for 
revamping the archaic structure of the Pakistani state. Maybe, 
known only to the corps commanders, there is a holistic design to 
lift Pakistan by the bootstraps and take it screaming into the sun. 
Maybe. What the people are being treated to is a different 
spectacle: a government lost under the stars. All this in just a 
few months.

The one thing expected of the new team was to give the nation a 
sense of direction. It has done nothing of the sort, thus drawing 
attention to its most signal failure.

Two things have happened as a consequence. In the spreading light 
it is possible to distinguish the shape of things more clearly but 
at the same time the cynicism which has been the defining quality 
of the Pakistani nation for the past 20 years and more is rising to 
the surface once again: cynicism as corrosive as the air, as 
boundless as the ocean. This is a dangerous development.

With hope thus being laid into the grave, and the horizon bereft of 
anything else, what remains is the power of the bayonet, its 
victory undiluted and complete.

For Pakistan this is a novel situation. In every previous phase of 
Bonapartism in the nation's history, military rule, no matter how 
powerful or repressive, has had to face political challenges, 
whether outright or oblique. For the first time what is being seen 
is a military government which, although less repressive and more 
confused than any to have preceded it, faces no direct political 
challenge to its authority.

Ever since Benazir Bhutto and her resourceful husband transformed 
the once-mighty PPP into a private limited company, the PPP is in 
no position to throw a challenge to anyone. The Muslim League has 
given ample signs of its resolve by saying repeatedly that it does 
not believe in a policy of confrontation against the army 
(obviously inclined to think that a strong democratic position and 
confrontation are the same thing). Other parties are too small to 
make a difference.

If it were not for the international situation and the need to run 
every now and then to the IMF for handouts and bailouts General 
Musharraf could re-invent the Suharto model of eternal government 
and stay in power forever.

The only challenges to military rule are negative ones. Cynicism, 
frustration and a general air of discontent. If because of 
governmental non-performance these become more pronounced, the 
confidence and swagger of General Musharraf and his team, already 
under considerable pressure, are bound to be affected further.

Not that military rule is without its defenders. It still has its 
fervid partisans but their arguments are self-serving. If the 
shortcomings of military rule are pointed out, they counter by 
asking whether a return to the eras of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz 
Sharif is desired. This is a false argument.

General Musharraf is under no compulsion to return the country to 
its past. He is expected to move ahead by clearing the road to a 
cleaner democracy. But if he sticks around too long in Islamabad, 
ordering canal desilting and district administration monitoring, he 
will be repeating the mistakes of his military predecessors, all of 
whom, without exception, left things worse than they had found 
them.

It would be tragic to go down the same route again. But we seem 
headed that way because, let there be no mistake about it, 
prolonged military rule is as much a reversion to the past as a 
return to the soiled democracy of Bhutto and Sharif.


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SPORTS
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Australia outclass Pakistan to clinch tri-nation crown
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SYDNEY, Feb 4: Steve Waugh's Australia hit their highest one-day 
score to lift the tri-series title with a massive 152-run victory 
over 'psyched out' Pakistan here on Friday.

The world champions took advantage of their rivals' pathetic 
fielding to pile up 337-7 from 50 overs after electing to bat in 
the second match of the best-of-three finals.

Pakistan, described by their captain Wasim Akram as psychologically 
crushed by the Aussies, folded up for 185 despite perfect batting 
conditions at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Glenn McGrath, whose deadly three-wicket burst in seven balls won 
Australia the first final at Melbourne on Wednesday, was Pakistan's 
destroyer again with 5-49.

It was Australia's ninth consecutive win in the series that also 
featured India. The one-day title followed identical 3-0 wins over 
both India and Pakistan in the Test series.

Ricky Ponting was named Man-of-the-Match after smashing 78 off 80 
deliveries, helping Australia to their highest ever total against 
any team in their 453 One-day Internationals, eclipsing their 
previous best of 332 for three against Sri Lanka in Sharjah in 
1989-90.

Openers Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist cracked half-centuries in a 
blistering start. The pair put on 74 for the first wicket in only 
10.4 overs, left-hander Gilchrist contributing 51 off 42 balls.

Mark Waugh made 53, adding 96 for the second wicket with Ponting, 
who ended up as the top scorer in the series with 404 runs from 10 
games.

Andrew Symonds and Steve Waugh smashed 66 off 54 balls for the 
fifth wicket, which allowed Australia to score 85 runs in the final 
10 overs.

Symonds hit a run-a-ball 45 and the captain made 37 as Australia 
surpassed their previous best of 332-3 against Sri Lanka at Sharjah 
in 1990.

Pakistan were done in by poor fielding, highlighted by two dropped 
catches by Yousuf Youhana which set up Australia's leather hunt 
before a sell-out crowd of 40,000.

Youhana spilled an easy chance at square leg when Gilchrist was on 
seven. He then misjudged a skier on the mid-wicket fence before 
Ponting had settled in. Pakistan's only consolation from a summer 
that promised much but delivered little was the choice of all-
rounder Abdur Razzaq as player of the series. Razzaq made 255 runs 
and took 14 wickets. The Pakistanis now return home to prepare for 
a tour by Sri Lanka.- AFP/Reuters

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