The roundtable conference of all the political parties called by the government to discuss the dire economic situation facing the country is a welcome development and a step in the right direction. That it is a prerequisite is a foregone conclusion, if we are to build national consensus on urgent steps to rescue the economy. That it is desired is a reflection of the wishes of all those, with a stake in the nations economic well being including the business community, who along with the 170 million people of Pakistan, have borne the brunt of a severe economic downturn. Definitely with many high-profile personalities, sitting together at one table, representing all shades of opinion in the political spectrum, some sort of consensus would be forthcoming on the ways to bring Pakistan back from the brink of an economic collapse. This conference, initiated at the highest level, embodies the hopes and aspirations of the nation. Hard even unpopular decisions will have to be made and as such they may create ripples on the economic front. Being an elected representative of the business community, and a businessman myself, I fully endorse the roundtable initiative, as I have pushed the idea at all occasions, including in meetings with government officials, in articles to leading dailies and various other publications. Having said that, I strongly feel that the chances of achieving success have been compromised to some extent, in that not all those with a direct stake in the economy have been consulted. Thus, not all prerequisites to the preparation of this important moot have been fulfilled. As a prelude to this major exercise, the government should immediately convene a meeting of all the Chambers of Commerce in the country, as they are the real stakeholders. Without the consultation of the business community, the upcoming all parties roundtable conference would fail to achieve the desired results. Further there are two areas where the government should focus immediately to get instant results. The first and foremost is the law and order situation, and the second is political harmony. These two factors are causing undue damage to the country, as a whole. A minor law and order related incident in some remote area of the country is given the same importance by the businessmen sitting in the United States of America or in Germany, as they are unaware of the prevailing ground reality in the country. More so, the ongoing political uncertainty is sending a wrong signal abroad. There are no two opinions about the fact that difference of opinion exists in every society, and that it is an accepted democratic way of life. Equally, it has to be said that the way sentiments are expressed in our country hardly finds any parallel in the history of civilised nations. In a meeting with some top US government functionaries, I asked them why some of the western media is so biased against Pakistan. Their answer was quite astonishing for me. They said: We cannot hire people in every nook and corner in Pakistan, it is your own people who are busy in the blame game, and their 'utterings are news for us. We generally derive all information from the print and electronic media in Pakistan. So, it would be wiser on the part of politicians that whenever they speak, they should choose their words carefully and keep in view the countrys national interest. They have every right to pinpoint the wrongdoings being committed by those sitting at the helm of affairs, but decency is the name of the game. Progress in these two vital areas - namely law and order and political harmony - will create an environment conducive to economic activity, and the economic situation will definitely take a positive turn. Economic challenges are equally important, but they come third in my list of government priorities. Indeed, there is a need to take care of governance related issues. Also, there is a need to look into corruption, which has become so rampant in our society. Besides this, inflation, poverty and unemployment all need a concerted government effort and methodology, but all these have a direct relationship with 'law and order and 'political stability. It is our national character that we tend to look at things through jaundiced eyes. Once again, doubts are being created by some circles that the roundtable on economy is being convened to divert the attention of the people. That government, which is on the backfoot and under pressure from all sides, is merely buying time to delay the inevitable from happening. My humble request to all in this society, particularly the armchair critics, is to let it happen. The results of the conference would be unfolding soon enough and speak for themselves. Coming back to the roundtable itself, I would request the government to make Kalabagh Dam issue agenda item #1, as a consensus on this important issue would be enough to take care of all the other economy related issues. With the construction of Kalabagh Dam, the economy as a whole would get considerable boost with grassroots benefits for all. And with the resultant cut in electricity prices, the cost of agricultural production and manufacturing would go down. The export sector, so vital to our foreign exchange earnings, will get a new lease of life. Last but not least, the government would also have to take on board issues related to governance, as bad governance tends to nullify everything in our national life. The writer is the vice president of SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and former president of FPCCI