ANALYSIS: Needed: a new Zardari zeal —Elf Habib - Saturday, August 21, 2010

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Zardari, like ZAB, who had to deal with the devastation and disillusionment descending after defeat and dismemberment, has been forced to combat these catastrophic calamities. His zeal to generate new resources, ironically, would depend more on the money minting mantra for which he has been so maliciously maligned

The maudlin and mysteriously motivated part of our media are once again zinging Zardari for flying abroad while they wanted him here hugging the marooned and miserable flood victims, at least for a photo opportunity if not for some real relief and succour. They would have, of course, certainly mauled him even more mercilessly for not rushing to counter the Cameron jibe. This overtly hawkish breed, in fact, invariably incite us to swoop, instantly, like a superman to avenge the slightest slip surrounding the strategies of our leaders rather than straightening it out through a subtle diplomatic course. Their emotional rant, however, is soon bound to recede as the grim realities to remedy the ravages of this unprecedented deluge, unrelenting terrorism, traumatic economy, whopping debts and the weird obsession to splurge the national resources on inexplicably megalomaniac militaristic fantasies, storm the citadels built on a sentimental saga of self-righteousness.

The dictates of relief and reconstruction, despite the morbid mullah media harangue against the West, would necessitate a more realistic reconciliation, outreach and interaction. Zardari, like ZAB, who had to deal with the devastation and disillusionment after defeat and dismemberment, has been forced to combat these catastrophic calamities. His zeal to generate new resources, ironically, would depend more on the money minting mantra for which he has been so maliciously maligned.

The word Zardari, interestingly, literally means a gold lord or holder, evoking the images of a fabulously rich potentate. The word, viewed in biological parlance, incidentally also points to the pollen gathering productive part of the flowering plants which gathers dust from far around to replenish growth and regeneration. True to this strange ominous surname, he has been caught in the controversy of kickbacks, commissions, sprawling overseas estates and bank vaults from the moment of being catapulted onto the national scene. Pounded persistently, by a partisan policy of piling up the charges through a media blitz and the absence of any really independent and impartial judicial recourse, we would never actually learn the extent of truth behind this barrage. However, while his tormentors temper their daggers relishing the exorcism that had already dragged on for 13 years, he can refurbish and rededicate his resource mobilisation magic to reconstruct the nation.

He has already exhibited an impressive performance to bolster the bleeding national bursaries through various loans, grants and commitments, and has been pressing for remission of the foreign loans. Any new aid can generate new avenues for building settlements, dams, material design, transport and massive employment. His zest for easy access to overseas markets requires competitive skill enhancement and the quality controls to satisfy the stringent standards and schedules set by international importers. So, while striving for these vital aspects, he must also simultaneously transform and diversify the traditional agriculture and livestock culture. His own passion for horse breeding, polo and related equestrian expertise for which he was once so bitterly berated, if properly extended to the national sector, can evolve into an effective elixir for development, beckoning the industrial manufacturing domain for innovation, expansion and marketing potential. The Pakistan Army also has some enviable traditions of thoroughbreds, which can be further widened into breeding and training programmes.

Horse breeding, being intimately linked to the other strands of husbandry and agriculture, can stimulate cattle ranches, particularly in the tribal belts, revitalising the native cattle breeding culture of the centuries. A timely action in poultry farming in the 1960s almost revolutionised this sector, affording white meat proteins to a far larger population. A comparable initiative in the mutton, beef and fish sectors, however, has long eluded us. Suitable zygotes for this purpose can be easily developed and distributed to the prospective breeders after proper training and demonstration for growth and multiplication in meticulously selected and supervised farms.

A vigorous venture for vending the latest research techniques for the cultivation of fruit, fodder, vegetables and cereals in the mountainous terrains can transform them into valuable food baskets. Zardari has already scoured several Chinese agriculture universities and research organisations and conferred with their boffins as well as other entrepreneurs. So some strategies on these lines, perhaps, could be soon implemented.

Different governments, unfortunately, dished out state lands and loans to various lackeys for ghost cattle, stud and agrifarms. The policy ought to be reviewed to ensure the use of state lands under strictly stipulated conditions of sustained productivity and return to state custody in the case of failure. Specialist demonstration can be similarly proffered to the private farming communities and corporations. A new initiative is similarly needed to boost the yield and quality of wheat, cotton, cane and oil crops and improve their storage, preservation and distribution operations. The mineral industry, similarly, has so far utterly missed the Midas touch. The billions poured into oil and gas exploration have brought little dividends except their stark scarcity and soaring prices.

Pakistan is actually paralysed by a festering fuel and energy crisis, its outmoded and crumbling infrastructure, frequent interruptions and excessive costs, grinding down almost all industrial and commercial activities. The massive and almost immediate investment to energise the power sector is far beyond the capacity of a nation relentlessly fleeced through exorbitant taxes, a mere fraction of which were ploughed into areas of public priority.

Zardari’s resolve to revive production and the flooded fortunes, almost from the rubble, thus must brace this mega challenge. The funds not just have to be found but also have to be genuinely distributed to stave off lurking death, hunger, disease and homelessness and ensure adequate energy, education, skills and employment. A viable repayment capacity to return any loans received for rehabilitation must be integrated into the process.

An essential prerequisite of the process is to stick steadfastly to the sanctity of the word ‘people’s’, flaunted in the party’s moniker, making the people’s plight, poverty and predicaments as the real pivot of all projects and policies. A party draining disproportionately more on defence and less on people cannot claim to be a real people’s party. Funds should be slashed more from the defence and less from the development budget, preferring the bereft over the ballistics. Otherwise, like the billions brought in by the dictators, they would be again circulating among the flunkeys and favourites’ fraternities, and the people, despite a people’s rule, would be again creeping around like zombies.

The writer is an academic and freelance columnist. He can be reached at

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