A big obstacle to growth and development is 'investment crime. Unfortunately it is on the rise in Pakistan since a democratic government took charge about two-and-a-half years ago, after nine years under a military-backed democracy. Holding the line on violent crime is important to attract aid and investment to the impoverished South Asian country of nearly 170 million, which has a history marred by frequent violence. The government must act immediately before this crime becomes a pattern and further maligns the image of the country. Hardly a day passes without Pakistani newspapers carrying photos of target killings etc. Often there are casualties on the security forces side too. Killing, rape, robbery, and street crimes are on the rise due to slackened administration. Hundreds of people have been killed in Karachi alone from March 2008 till the present time. It is a general perception that criminals are backed by different political leaders as well as seasoned criminals, frustrated sons of the rich, drug addicts as well as political activists. Government efforts to curb crime are failing, because certain people with political backgrounds are patronizing crime gangs for unlawful benefits. The Government should tackle these problems ranging from poverty to crime, to ensure a modicum of stability and attract aid and investment that would lift the standard of living in a country were roughly 40 per cent of the population earn less than $1 a day. We cannot see any major development in coming years as far as FDI in Pakistan is concerned, as there is no considerable betterment in law and order situation. SHAUKAT MASOOD ZAFAR, Dece mber 22.