Dawn reports1 that, yesterday, Zardari crashed a security briefing by the ISI chief Lt-Gen Nadim Taj on the state of the tribal areas and on the border that was meant to be for Prime Minister Gilani. The article notes that generally such meetings are so sensitive that the Prime Minister or the President needs to go to the ISI headquarters to receive them and no officials not under oath are allowed to attend.
Next, this Business Recorder Editorial2 reports on a press conference he held in which he referred to an “economic meltdown”. This is apparently the first time he has ever referred to the economic situation in Pakistan directly. He announced a new energy conservation plan and a three year investment to increase energy supply. Significantly, he did not mention any projects for public sector energy production which was something that the PML-N finance minister Ishaq Dar had proposed before he resigned along with the other PML-N ministers in the cabinet. The editorial also noted that the PPP has often dealt with inflationary pressures by raising salaries or by providing direct subsidies “Like Old Labour, or the pre-Tony Blair Labour” which generally has the counter-productive result of being even more inflationary.
The interesting thing about reading this editorial in the Business Recorder was the editorial board’s view of inflation as a phenomenon generated by market forces rather than simply an injustice created by the government. They also lay the blame for this year’s budget deficit at Musharraf’s door because he failed to increase the fixed price of petroleum last year and paid PSO and Shell from the government’s coffers.