Pakistan Prime Minister in the Making
By Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Sydney, Australia
'Prime Minister' the word speaks for itself, the person holding the positing possesses the 'Prime' ministerial skills. The Prime Minister is expected to hold the most outstanding leadership qualities and can lead the governing body successfully using his long career political vision. Generally, the role is nominated by the winning party to a person with the most outstanding career record, politically, within the party and in the State. It is not mandatory the person must be specialised for a particular meadow but must have understanding and Project Management skills on variety of fields and affairs for good governance.
Making of a Prime Minister is in progress - first it was Zaffarulllah Khan Jamli to Choudhry Shujaat Hussain and now Shujaat Hussain to Shaukat Aziz. Entire political drama is being sketched as a landmark in Pakistani democracy. As per my knowledge, this can be counted as an historic event as this is the first time, perhaps, in any democratic government the present Prime Minister is found busy in legitimising another person for the role who is, at present, not an elected representative of the house.
The Federal Minister of Finance, Shaukat Aziz, not a long ago, was an alien in Pakistan being a citizen of USA. He is a native Pakistani but he did not possess any political history in Pakistan, except his existing portfolio in Musharraf's Governance. Shaukat Aziz is being acknowledged as an internationally recognised professional who has elevated Pakistan's economy and attracted overseas investments in Pakistan. Newly elected Prime Minister Choudhry Shujaat Hussain and his team are found eventfully involved in making Shaukat Aziz the future Prime Minister of Pakistan. It is believed the activity is being initiated on the direction of the President General Pervez Musharraf.
Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan is, currently, standing at crossroads and his prime objectives are the development of the country and poverty alleviation. Wouldn't it be more appropriate for him as well as the government that he should focus on his economic revolutionary goals as a Finance Minister rather than accepting supreme responsibilities for many affairs as a Prime Minister? Or is there any task which he could not achieve as being the Finance Minister? The answer might not exist within the boundaries of Pakistan.
Many in government lobby defending Mr. Aziz's move to become the Prime Minister by quoting Dr. Manmohan Singh, an economist, recently elected as the Prime Minister of India. One should know that Dr. Manmohan Singh has been nominated for Premiership not on the solo reason that he had highly successful credential in elevating India's economy. Dr. Singh is found to be the senior member of the Congress Party. He was the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha. He was so visionary in politics that before the Indian general election, addressing the public meeting, he had predicted Congress victory whilst many poll experts were rating BJP as a close winner. Before the election he said, "I am not an astrologer but I am confident that the Congress will be able to form a government."
On other hand, Shaukat Aziz has no history of affiliation to any political party. He is found so untaught on politics that he was asked about his election constituency, during filing his papers to election commission, he said, he left the decision on Prime Minister Choudhry Shujaat Hussain to select his constituency.
In making Shaukat Aziz as the future Prime Minister, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (party) withdrew two democratically elected members of the parliament from their seats. Now, Mr. Aziz will contest the by-election from Attock (Punjab) and Tharparkar (Sind). The Government is claiming the by-election will be transparent. However, one has to see, how the ruling party makes him win from the places which might be strange quarters for Mr. Aziz, especially, far-flung Tharparker. The political pledge has already been launched for the people of Tharparker who historically found the most neglected people with no voice in Pakistan. Addressing to the people of Tharparker, Shaukat Aziz promised the people of Thar that he would serve the Thar district after being elected as Prime Minister. Well, if he and his government interested to do so, they can still do the job.
Sacking and making new political showpieces is not new in Pakistan - a country where democracy is run by military. In 1993, another alien to Pakistan, a US citizen and a World Bank official, Mr. Moin Qureshi was also brought in Pakistan and became the Prime Minister next day. His job was to get Pakistan out from the falling economy and rising debts of International Monitory Funds (IMF). He was appointed as the Caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan. However, Pakistan's economy and the debts status did not bring any dramatic change in his tenure.
It is also to be noted that last November, when President Musharraf visited America to attend the special session of the United Nations General Assembly, he held a meeting with former caretaker Prime Minister Moin Qureshi at Roosevelt Hotel. According to sources, the meeting lasted for more than 45 minutes where Moin Qureshi apprised the president of his suggestions pertaining to stabilizing the Pakistan economy. However, when then government's spokesman Major Gen Rashid Qureshi was contacted to comment on the meeting he said, it was a routine meeting and did not disclose any agenda of the meeting.
The way the political affairs are being controlled in the present government set-up, it is assumed that making Shaukat Aziz the Prime Minister is a matter of following the predefined script. Nevertheless, one has to see, how long Shaukat will serve and how he will be consumed for the reasons he is being brought in the role of Prime Minister. (The Writer is a Sydney-based journalist and a political Analyst).
Concluded: 8th of July, 2004