Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has said that a strong economy will end terrorism, as well as prevent any dictation being forced on the country. He said this on his current visit to Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah, when a delegation of the Pakistan Journalists Forum called on him on Saturday. He referred to the power crisis, and the efforts his government was making to end it, and it was worth noting that he linked economic progress to ending terrorism, not just in the sense of its being a law and order problem discouraging investment, but in that of there being a relationship between economic progress and levels of recruitment for militancy.

At the same time, the All-Pakistan Business Forum, at a reception in its honour on the same day in Lahore, provided a reminder of the economic harm being caused by the law and order problem, by saying that $15-20 billion would come into Pakistan if the law and order situation was improved, in the form of investment in various projects, like the Bhasha Dam, coal power plants and the Motorway. This showed that the business community still fought shy of investing in Pakistan because of the damage that could be done by extremism, and that the solving of the power shortage would not allow the government to rest.

The government is right in attempting to solve the power crisis, because without power industry cannot run. However, investment will only come if it is clear that the law and order situation is settled. It is not just terrorism at work; the conditions in Karachi were mentioned at the Lahore reception, and the unrest in that city has not been caused by religious militants, but by protection racketeers and target killers. Karachi is of key importance because it is Pakistan’s economic powerhouse; not just its only port, but also its financial and industrial capital.

Mian Nawaz may have the right instincts, as to the importance of both the power supply and the law and order situation, but what is now needed is correct action. The government has given the impression that it has allowed the power crisis to monopolise all its attention. As was pointed out at the reception, the government has still not held the All-Parties Conference it wants to launch its national security policy, in which the military will help in implementing. If the Nawaz government does not take resolute action quickly, it will find that its ability to act will fade away.