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Businessmen explore prospects in politics

August 24, 2011

President Zardari seen addressing the Pakistan Business Council at Aiwan-e-Sadr - File photo

CHINIOT: Fed up with the turmoil plaguing the country, a group of businessmen has decided to be in the political arena instead of being a spectator anymore.

The aspiration was expressed by eminent industrialist, Qaisar Ahmad Sheikh, former KCCI chief, while talking to Dawn.

Last month a meeting was arranged by Korangi Association in Karachi in which a large number of businessmen decided to join practical politics and Qaisar Sheikh was made focal person to contact “clean and sincere” candidates to be supported in the election.

Although Mr Sheikh was not forthcoming about whether or not the business community would like to establish a political party, he commented they might be compelled to move in that direction.

Into the business since three generations, Mr Sheikh spelled out the economic disaster the country had been gradually plunged into after Ayub regime. He said macroeconomic indicators like inflation, unemployment, stock exchange were negative and the business community was highly perturbed over the situation.

Moreover, he said, the deteriorating law and order situation had shattered the confidence of investors and many of them were settling abroad.

However, he said, members of Chiniot’s Sheikh Biradari were exception and patriotic enough to stay in Pakistan.

He also deplored unbridled power and gas loadshedding, soaring prices, indirect taxation and high rates of interest as hurdles in businesses.

All other things being equal, he said, the country had vast opportunities which could be exploited for development. He said rapid development was taking place in south Asia and China.

Pakistan, he said, was rich in natural and human resources. Besides, remittances by the expatriate Pakistanis could help improve economy and foreign exchange.

“After having accepted strict dictates of IMF and World Bank, we hardly get $1 billion per annum – an amount sent by expatriates in just one month without any conditions. It is high time the government facilitated the services of expats’ input and certain incentives were given to them.”

He also supported free trade with India and south Asia. With the former, he said, the country would have a market of Rs1.2 billion to sell our products.

He said the business community had a clear vision and direction to solve the economic issues whose solution would lead to social and political stability in the country.

Mr Sheikh said a postbudget conference was recently held in Lahore in June, which was attended by Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Ijazul Haq, Chaudhry Ameer Hussain and it was realised that the fate of the country would not change unless sincere and committed leadership emerged.

Mr Sheikh also expressed grave concern over Karachi killings and said billions of rupees had been siphoned off the country due to free hand given to extortionists. He urged the government to give the Rangers more powers to restore peace to the port city.