Making the headlines for the wrong reasons - BY: Tariq A. Al-Maeena

Making the headlines for the wrong reasons

Following the Uri attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir that killed 18 Indian soldiers in September, charges against Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism intensified. Politicians and many sections of the Indian media hyperventilated about Pakistan’s intentions with many calling for swift and strong action. The Indian prime minister went so far as to publicly declare that India would mount a global campaign to isolate Pakistan in the world. “We will isolate you. I will work for that.” He even accused Pakistan of dwelling on terrorism while India had made global economic progress.

But is that a fair assessment of a country of some 160 million people scattered about four provinces and Azad Kashmir? As the world›s fifth largest democracy, Pakistan has had its share of questionable leadership, but there is enough evidence that the country›s progress has not taken a back seat. Western visitors to the country today attest to the fact that the media have been exaggerating Pakistan›s lack of safety and security. As one German sociologist said, “Never once had we felt threatened for our personal safety during our entire trip, and there were many times when individually we would set off on our own to the busiest sections of the cities we had visited. Neither were our pre-visit ideas about a dirty and poor country justified, for we saw enough to prove otherwise. The infrastructure wherever we went was either intact or in the process of being upgraded.”

It is unfortunate that Pakistan was sucked into a war between two major powers and in the process lost much of its own direction. The players who created and left a mess behind in the country have long since moved on, leaving wretched remnants of demons whose sole aim is to create and spread terror. Also, in the context of their internal politics, news of Pakistan›s emerging industries and economies has continuously been relegated to the back pages of the media. Perhaps it has more to do with Pakistan›s preoccupation with conflicts at its northern borders in recent times, but little is written about the fact that with more than 100 universities and 150 research institutes, Pakistan produces 100,000 engineering graduates annually, and another 100,000 technically trained graduates.

More than 50 foreign companies have recently set up R&D facilities in Pakistan. Some of these include multinationals, such as GE, DuPont, Bell Labs, IBM and Microsoft. In the business of automobiles, Pakistan manufactures and sells engine components to five of the world›s largest manufacturers. Suzuki and Hyundai are recent entrants to the manufacturing buzz in Pakistan setting up full-fledged plants, with Pakistan ranked as the ninth largest automobile manufacturer in the world.

Along with heavy industry, Pakistan is also one of the world›s largest exporters of textiles and related products. Garment exports alone are expected to fetch $8 billion by year›s end. In its quest for self-reliance, Pakistan is among seven countries in the world that launch their own satellites. It is also among the few countries that have developed and built their own nuclear power capabilities using their own indigenous technology.

New emerging industries in areas of interest include mechatronics, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and clinical research. And foreign investment has shown a remarkable increase in recent years. Ironically, Gulf countries awash with high returns from the sale of oil have yet to take advantage of an educated labor pool and invest heavily in this growing economy.

Such remarkable achievements should make Pakistanis everywhere proud and more determined to develop their political participation in a positive manner. It is their country, and they should all join hands under the crescent and the star, the symbol of their flag, to ensure a secure and stable government, free from personal agendas and one that can co-exist peacefully with all of its neighbors.

The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena

Posted on Nov 10, 16 | 2:36 am