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Shaukat Aziz interview – Mahreen Khan

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Mahreen Khan interviews Shaukat Aziz in London on the accusations made against him by both opposing and PML-Q politicians and the media.

As a non-politician (and as with Musharraf i.e. not being seen as a threat by media), he is criticized even more by the media (the so called “ghattia pana” of the media mentioned earlier).

The following controversies are mentioned:

– Pakistan Steel Case and action against the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s behaviour (this was not discussed in detail however)

– whether removal of CJ was instigated by Musharraf (as opposed to the “official” story that Shaukat Aziz sent a directive to the President, which the Presidential bureaucrasy processed as usual). This issue is not discussed either. The presumed reason for this would be that Musharraf may have seen that the CJ was “no good” and would create problems for the smooth transfer of power to the next government, with Musharraf staying on for stability. A lot of people may have seen Musharraf as a usurper (as opposed to the perfectly acceptable Zardari, Benazir, or Sharif brothers !), however as sensed by thinking people his departure would lead to problems as well – some of which we are seeing in the “headless-chicken” behaviour of the PPP/PML-N joint government. Much of what people feared has come true in that regard. One positive has been the emboldening of the judiciary – but this happened during Musharraf’s tenure, and that emboldening was sufficient. Subsequent to that, we have seen the overshoot behaviour – with judges sitting in judgement on cases that involve themselves, with lawyers beating up police, judges and now “journalists”. The PPP-jiyala dominated media which praised the beating of Sher Afghan Niazi or Ahmed Raza Qasuri (blackening of face on court premises) now sees ITSELF as the victim, and they are not liking it one bit.

– Wheat crisis (where Shaukat Aziz is accused of caving in to the agriculturist lobby to allow export of wheat). Musharraf gives a far better explanation where he says the calculation to export early may have been correct, but the shortfall may have been from a failure to anticipate smuggling of (probably cheaper-than-world-market) wheat to Afghanistan and India. This fact itself suggests that Pakistan WAS enjoying cheaper-than-world-prices wheat at that time as well. Humayun Akhtar in a recent interview with Naim Bokhari suggested that that “wheat crisis” had only taken prices to the Rs. 200 versus the Rs. 700+ it was to reach under the current PPP and PML-N joint regime.

– Stock market “scandal” (where some favourite players were supposedly allowed to reap profits off the stock market’s fall). It remains to be seen how much of this is actually a crime and how much is “business as usual” in the stock market – where a lot of non-transparent, insider trading stuff goes on (combined with a small market, with very few big companies trading on the market).

– Electricity power crisis (here the “blame” lies with the government of the time, although the media presumes Musharraf was all powerful, and then they demand why HE didn’t do anything). There maybe legitimacy to such accusations, but a parallel question emerges – why didn’t the titans of industry lobby for greater power generation 4 years in advance ? Why didn’t the ultra-smart “media” raise THAT issue instead of the incessant obsession with “removal of uniform”. What happened to the media’s sense of balance – where bigger issues are given importance, and all the issues given their due balance. While one can agree with the accusations against Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz, it IS a planning omission. However where was the media when Musharraf was pushing construction of Kalabagh Dam. The media presumes that Musharraf is all powerful – a “Muhajir” stationed in Potohari Rawalpindi – a fallacy in itself and they proceed to cut him down, instead of working to strengthen his hand, if they see his efforts as useful for Pakistan. In a similar way, the media FAILED to raise the electricity power issue and bring it to the forefront of political discussion in the country. Musharraf was just one person – who can have his failings – and who WAS pitted against the ANP’s traditional opposition to Kalabagh Dam (because it infringes on their ancestral land) and the Sindhi parties (who say interruption in river flow to fill a dam will create greater encroachment by the sea and reduced water as it will inevitably be used to irrigate lands in the North as parasitic “canals” siphon off precious water at the source). What happened to the scores of “journalists” and media owners and THEIR duty to the country ?

Links:
1/4 Shaukat Aziz interview – Mahreen Khan – Aug 2, 2009
2/4 Shaukat Aziz interview – Mahreen Khan – Aug 2, 2009
3/4 Shaukat Aziz interview – Mahreen Khan – Aug 2, 2009
4/4 Shaukat Aziz interview – Mahreen Khan – Aug 2, 2009

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