THE plight of our business sector has failed to attract the national attention it deserves. Had the leadership been more sensitive to the needs of our industries and banks, perhaps we would not be in the dire straits that we now find ourselves in; and we would not have needed to go on a suicidal mission to the IMF and World Bank. Since we went into our fatal alliance with the US, post-9/11, our business community has been seeking trade access for our exports rather than aid with conditionalities. But that has not happened. Ms Clintons glib retort to our business community to seek trade with India reflects the reality that the US does not wish Pakistans indigenous businesses and industries to thrive. Otherwise what was stopping it giving our exports, especially textiles, access to US markets? Or to give us the same exemptions in terms of textile exports, that are given to Jordan for having a small Israeli component to their manufactures; or to Bangladesh or to the many African countries? After all, who else has suffered as a result of the US war on terror as much as Pakistan, on all fronts? Our textile sector could have been asked to include a small percentage of an Afghan component to gain special access to the US market. Instead, the US seems deliberately interested in undermining our production capability by denying us market access. As if that were not bad enough, our political parties in power are further aggravating the situation. Especially in Karachi, PPP office holders are openly harassing and blackmailing business houses and banks, forcing many of them to move their businesses and headquarters out of this financial centre of the country. The case of MCB is simply one such example where, despite the Sindh High Court orders and admonitions, the local administration refuses to act against the blackmailers and thugs disrupting normal businesses as a pressure tactic. People working for the banks and business houses are threatened with kidnappings and worse to deter them from going to work. This simply cannot be accepted in any civilised society. Democracy does not mean rule of terror by those in power. Political parties in power cannot allow their workers to become thugs or ally with thugs to vitiate the financial and business environment in the urban centres like Karachi. This city has developed because it is a financial hub and a cosmopolitan metropolis. It exudes success against all odds, and the state should be nourishing those business houses who continue to not only remain in the country but invest in it. These should be our heroes as much as those confronting terrorists with arms. Instead, tragically our leaders for their own selfish ends want a slice of every pie or the pie will be burnt.