When Steve Jobs returned to Apple for the second time, the first move he made was to announce a number of plans he had in mind to take Apple forward. Critics at the time were quick to point out that for someone who has yet to take stock of things such announcements showed brashness and immaturity. However, Steve Jobs's logic was that for shareholders and markets to respond positively they must have confidence in the competence of the new leadership and a leadership without visible plans and a clear-cut direction can never inspire the required confidence. He was right as the investors interpreted the announcements as signs of Apple's belief in itself to re-emerge as a market leader and of course the CEO's entrepreneurial skills combined with the trust he placed in his own company's human resource saw not only the resurgence of Apple, but also enabled it to attain much higher standards of excellence than before. Ironically, at home, where it will soon be a year in office for the present economic team, the plans for meeting the economic challenges still remain a mystery and the direction totally confusing. Not long ago we were being fed with the idea that to curb high inflation the interest rates needed to be jacked up (mind you at unprecedented levels). Demand also had to be curbed to cool off the economy, even if all this came at the expense of growth, investment and more importantly loss of jobs No amount of convincing or logic (as their present policy direction means mass resultant unemployment and virtual erosion of the already suffering manufacturing sector at home) seemed good enough to make them budge from this stance, especially since it became obvious that the fear of IMF rather than any other factor reigned supreme in their decision making. However, in recent weeks one has surprisingly seen an abrupt shift with statements to the effect that while inflation still remains in excess of 20 percent, the interest rates may be revised downward and that a new focus on growth is being developed to avoid a complete breakdown of economic activity in Pakistan. Very welcome indeed, but what largely remains unclear is that what exactly is the government thinking or wanting to do? If they are now finally going to bring down the interest rates then by how much, in how many phases and in what kind of a timeframe? Also, if focus is again going to be on growth, then what renegotiation plans with the IMF do they have in mind and exactly which sources are they banking upon to generate extra liquidity in order to provide a meaningful stimulus plan they seek? With regional players like China, India and Bangladesh playing the currency factor (i.e. their exchange rates) to the advantage of their exports, then is the Pakistan government also thinking on the lines of devaluing Pak Rupee to a realistic level (we have thus far on the contrary seen its surge against main Euro currencies - Euro and the Pounds Sterling - when we know that the EU accounts for more than 50 percent share of Pak exports)? Further, can the present regime be serious about addressing the multiple difficulties being faced by the manufacturing sector and at the same time hold back on its ill-timed rhetoric of tax increases at a juncture when most countries in the world are instead announcing tax incentives or tax-breaks? All these are questions and fears that the government needs to quickly address in order to motivate domestic producers and workers before it can even aspire to lure renewed foreign investment. Finally, the perception of confusion, uncertainty and non-seriousness needs to be removed by providing clear signals and policy announcements that not only demonstrate that it is in control, but also gives a clear roadmap on how it intends on carrying all stakeholders collectively in its endeavour to fix the current economic impasse. There is no time to waste as with each passing day the economic crisis is pushing more and more people back into the poverty trap. Slumping exports are the cause of job losses across the country and virtually in all sectors foreign and domestic investment stands frozen. The currency remains yet another uncertainty as the present parity of the Pak Rupee with most global currencies of the developed world does not make much sense and traders fear that the present parity level of the Pak Rupee has the danger of collapsing at any time. In other words the sooner the Pak Rupee starts trading at a realistic level the quicker will stability return to the national markets and exports. In the meantime, to restore the shaken confidence, what the government needs to do is to create some sort of a fund to cope with the prevailing vulnerability of our economy and at the same time formulate a reputable team to manage this fund to ensure fast and flexible aid delivery, backed by safeguards to see to it that the money allocated is well spent. The priorities in such spending should include, a) Safety net programmes that can act as shock absorbers for the poor and b) Facilitating areas of health, education, nutrition and development of human capital. Further, in these critical times investments by the government in infrastructure can yield huge benefits. The Chinese model says it all, where China has demonstrated that wisely chosen infrastructure projects can create jobs while building a foundation for productivity and growth. Lastly, the fund should be used to provide a stimulus to the presently struggling industrial sector, especially the small and medium sized enterprises. Small businesses are the most dynamic and flexible employers, and the best safety net is a "job". Successful economic leaders upon assuming new roles and offices rely on skills and strategies that tend to have a high global success rate. According to Michael Watkins's (Leadership guru at Harvard) latest research: To be able to succeed in meeting today's economic challenges the economic managers first need to understand the situation at hand, adapt to it and then begin the famous five tier process of start-up, turnaround, accelerated growth, realignment and sustaining success. Looks like that one year on, we continue to struggle at the first level in still trying to understand the situation at hand. Regardless of the situation one is in, even in better times the essence of good governance always lies in the ability to figure out which things need to happen first. Only armed with such clarity, can the leaders design effective plans to manage their economies and more importantly, manage themselves. Sadly, in these turbulent times the Pakistani business community still anxiously awaits any sense of clarity and real direction from its economic leaders