State of flux — where it would end
Yesterday, at a book store I bought an Indian history book. Its price was Rs 275 that is Indian Rs 275. I asked the salesman how much should I pay. He demanded Pak Rs 607 I was astonished and asked him why it was so. He said because Pak Rs 2.21 was equal to One Indian Rupee. I paid the demanded price, recovering from the shock from how low Pakistan currency has sunk .I recalled another similar unpalatable fact. A month or so ago, a Bangla Deshi told me some thing amazing like this. He said there was a time when two BD Takka were equal to one Pak Rupee. It is the other way round now. I wondered how “democratic” Pakistan was faring in economy. In the days of the former Military Dictators whom the PPP propagandists continue to falsely abuse for all our present day economic and political ills, Pakistan Rupee was a strong currency in Asia. I recalled the Second Envoys Conference held in the days of Zia ul Haq, the maligned so-called “jihadist”. Zia entered the Conference Hall, and after he sat down he announced “ “Gentlemen, Pakistan is no longer a poor country. We have crossed the income bracket of poor countries. We are now in the bracket of low income group countries. India is till a poor country, according to the IMF standards, Our Rupee is higher than Indian Rupee by five paisas ” I was in the Conference among the ambassadors attending it. I recall the value of Pakistan Rupee in Ayub Era. I was posted in Tokyo from 1963 to 1966. Pakistan currency had a high value compared to yen, or equivalent in dollar Rs 5.30 equal to a dollar and Rs 9 to a pound sterling Recently a Canadian Pakistani returned from a trip of Nepal. He said he tried to exchange Pak currency in Khatmando. The Exchange dealer refused to accept Pak currency. “It has no value here” he said...
Can one compare the prices of such commodities as wheat, sugar, rice, fruits, or patrol of those days with today’s. My monthly patrol bill with two trips to Lahore used to be around Rs 150. in 1972 What was the price of gold in Pakistan in those days. My memory might be failing, but was it not Rs 130 per tola as against todays about Rs 40,000. per tola. You can say those were the days of dirty military dictators, but people did not have all the problems of today’s democracy! .Does the label satisfy the people or the contents.?
I recall my wife with some ladies of the Foreign Office going to “bara” for shopping in our car in 1968 I was horrified to hear this and asked her “ Are you not afraid of being kidnapped in the tribal belt. That has been the most dangerous place for decades and decades ..” She said “no longer. Now all the ladies are going unescorted to the bara for shopping . Don’t worry” They went in the morning and returned in the late evening. They spoke of the hospitality of the tribal people to them and had brought much shopping . It was the cheapest shopping in that free zone. Nowadays this is the Taleban infested territory. Where drone attacks kill the locals and the Army is busy in operations against the Talebans. Since she is Afghan from her mother’s owner of the store took her to meet his wife in their house. It was mear that area where yesterdays two mosque were bombed by Muslims killing over 100 Namazees and may be 200 wounded.
Those were the days when the gulf between the high and mighty and the common man was not so great . Our style of living was not ostentatious and our dress of the top and the ordinary person or citizen was not so markedly different as is today In those days the corrupts were so few that one could count them as a great minority. I asked the old Dhobi of the Government hostel when I went there several years after my retirement when he started to tell tales about the high personalities staying in the Hostel “Tell me what difference you find between our old days and the current high ups. He said in those days you people were strict and at times harsh but fair and one could expect justice from the high officials. Now they are harsh and strict but do not worry about being just. Just their own gains, snatching bribes and serving self interest. In old days, economy in public expenditure and frugality was fairly observed. There were not all this pomp and show, Mughal Emperors’ palaces like government buildings, flashy cars and all that . It is unfortunate that the ruling elite does not realize that since after Musharruf’s take over the country is going down and down. Name any thing. Value of the currency, cost of living, law and order situation, name it. If there is an improvement it is in the maturity of the Urban masses thanks to the TV which has educated them a great deal, but they live in a wadera dominated country where majority in the country side is still captive vote.
Let us look at the standing of Pakistan in international community today. Obama’s visit to India is a symbol of where Pakistan stands. I was an ambassador and go to the real meaning of an event disregarding all that verbal net which is spread to scuttle the reality. He goes right to Bombay accepting Indian version of the terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal Hotel. Obama says US and India will fight together against terrorism against their nationals – leaves the blank to be filled in . Fight together against whom? He offers India access to high tech, $ 10 billion trade and Permanent UN SC seat to India, Cheekily. The implication is US stands for India’s hegemony in this region. So there will be Christian civilization, Yellow civilization, Hindu Civilization but entire Muslim civilization is out of leadership in the World and so is the African . Could one do that in the “dirty days of military ruler” Ayub. No one experiences in his meetings with foreigners the standing of his country like an Ambassador does. I experienced Pakistan’s standing in those days during my ambassadorship. We never sunk so low in international standing as now. Let us leave this painful topic here.
What is the reason ? A structural character defect has seeped into our leadership since the Musharruf coup although in some degree it existed all along but it grew from insignificant state to national epidemic. Now every “leader” is for himself and busy in making money. National interest has no meaning or appeal . Looted and ill gotten wealth has been staked in foreign banks, Pity it is a sick leadership. No desire to self reformation. One would like to say what a great difference quality of national leadership makes Mao, Kemal Ataturk, Tito, Sukarno, Nasser, Nkrum, Sekou Tore, Nehru, Ayub, De Gaulle, Quaid, Liaquat , even ZAB created a place for their countries in the world. The giants and the pigmies leaders explain the rise and fall of nations in world history.
Look at the lavish style of living of our leaders , their trips abroad, their official big cars, millions and billions of accounts in Foreign Accounts and begging bowl in hands for foreign aid.