Pity the man in the street!
somewhat cryptic but ominous remark that, “Our economies are more closely connected than ever before and I know that many of you here are watching how the United States government will address the problems in our financial system.” What followed at the bi-partisan meeting on this rescue operation put it on hold for the time being. But, President Bush was not the man to heed sane counsel.
Needless to say, the man in the street had difficulty suppressing his misgivings. Where was the vaunted 700 billion dollars going to come from? Or was it going to be a repeat of the greatest default in the history of world finance – the de-linking of the dollar from the gold standard? Going by past record, the Third World was destined to be on the receiving end.
President George W. Bush, conveniently quoting from the Charter of the United Nations that sets forth “the equal rights of nations large and small”, had also vowed to keep supporting former Soviet Republic of Georgia’s “territorial integrity”. He added, somewhat grandiosely, “Young democracies around the world are watching to see how we respond to this test. We must stand united in support of the people of Georgia.” The man in the street, nevertheless, would earnestly like to believe that the “territorial integrity” of states other than Georgia would be equally dear to the leadership of the superpower, once again in the light of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Charter.
In his turn, the, then, Defence Secretary of the United States Robert Gates, while somewhat inexplicably referring to “the success we’ve had against al-Qaeda in Iraq”, had Email: email@example.com made the somewhat preposterous claim that “the greatest threat to the homeland lies in western Pakistan”. Sounds familiar, does it not! This somewhat open-ended statement had understandably added to the woes of the man in the street.
In the first place, the man in the street wondered why the distinguished Defence Secretary had chosen to mention Pakistan in conjunction with Iraq? Secondly, did the honourable Secretary honestly believe that the deliberate devastation of Iraq’s infrastructure had helped his country’s fight against terror? And would this not be classed as an attempt to cover up the evident shortcomings in the Afghanistan campaign?
So much for the over the shoulder look! The recent happenings around the world are not only not reassuring they promise more of the same. The Prime Minister of our neighbouring state, while out on a diplomatic binge, appears intent on fanning flames. Instead of working for a secure and peaceful future for the region, the accent appears to be on more of the same. From all appearance, he looks more intent on attempting to fish in, rather than pour oil on, the troubled waters of the region!
Meanwhile at home, the serious difference of opinion between those who consider that the war on terror is “our war” and those who think otherwise has continued. If anything, it appeared to be gaining in intensity by the day. The man in the street is not bothered with semantics; all he wants is peace in his homeland. And he is deeply concerned about the price he may be expected to pay.
Prices of all necessities and services continue to rise by the day. Where is it all going to end? Is there no remedy against this virtual scalping? What happened to the merry band of planners and economists of yore, who reveled in thrusting macro and micro statistics down common people’s throats? Is there no redemption in sight? Why is there no consideration for the pensioners and the fixed income lot in our planning?
Be that as it may, it must be recognized that the hapless man in the street has long forgotten about such niceties as children’s education and the like. He is today more concerned about where the next meal is going to come from, given the galloping inflation. Would it not be realistic to ask whether the present is a pointer to a future in which he may be reduced to eating grass? But, in the circumstance in which even grass may not be easy to come by given the assault on green areas by the construction mafia, pity the Man in the Street! — The writer is a former ambassador and former assistant secretary general of OIC.
The man in the street is not bothered with semantics; all he wants is peace in his homeland. And he is deeply concerned about the price he may be expected to pay. Prices of all necessities and services continue to rise by the day. Where is it all going to end?