Mohamed H. Zakaria, Jeddah published Saturday 21 October 2006 (28 Ramadan 1427)


It is celebration time both in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Bangladeshis are celebrating the Nobel Peace Prize for Muhammad Yunus who began a revolution with his pioneering work in lending: giving tiny loans to millions of poor people whom no commercial bank would touch — destitute widows, abandoned wives, landless laborers, rickshaw drivers, sweepers and beggars. An amount of $27 was lent to 42 villagers living near Chittagong University where he was teaching “elegant theories of economics.” The borrowers invested the money and repaid him in full, though they had no collateral and had signed no paper.

Islamabad is celebrating the signing of a contract with UAE-based construction firm Emaar for the construction of a new city of international standard on the twin islands of Bundar and Buddo, located close to Port Qasim. It is flattering to read about such mega-size projects in Pakistan. But do Pakistanis have the potential, infrastructure and resources to raise and spend such massive amount of money on housing? Emaar has not provided details of who will be their potential customers, who will finance the project and from where the water and electricity will come, an already scare commodity in Pakistan. At times, Islamabad ruling elite reminds me of Nero. Our Rome too is burning.

Most Pakistanis are living in extremely hard conditions. A majority of them have no proper roof over their heads. They have been watching, over the years, the elite class getting richer and richer. Such obscene show of wealth will only fan their anger into a blazing Rome.