Describing Pakistan as a “failed democracy”, Sadruddin Hashwani, one of the country’s top businessmen, has said that Islamabad needs a new Constitution and new leadership to ensure progress and provide jobs to the youth.
Hashwani, 76, who chairs the Hashoo Group and owns the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad that was bombed in 2008, presented his version of contemporary Pakistan at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) here on Wednesday with emotion, disappointment and hope of a better future.
Claiming to know the identity of those behind the 2008 bombing that killed 54 people, Hashwani said the government of the day “knew what was happening”. He added, “We were in tears, but some were celebrating. The country has suffered because of this failed democracy.”
IISS has hosted presidents, prime ministers and top representatives from South Asia over the years, but Hashwani, whose interests include oil and gas exploration and production, information technology, investment and minerals, is the first businessman to present at its headquarters.
Hashwani has set out the trials and tribulations he encountered as an entrepreneur in the trouble-torn country, including near-death experiences, in a 2014 memoir titled Truth Always Prevails, in which he accused former president Asif Ali Zardari of trying to kill him.
Referring to a defamation notice reportedly sent to him by Zardari after the book’s publication, Hashwani told a questioner: “I sent a short reply to his lawyer: Please find out from your client, did he have a reputation? There has been no reply so far.”
He said, “The leadership is responsible for all ills facing the country. It is difficult to get law and justice in Pakistan. If law is applied, half of politicians and businessmen will be in jail. The Constitution and parliament have been a failure. We need a new Constitution, a new leadership.”
According to Hashwani, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is a “gentleman and a good human being”, but had inherited a system that is bad and people who are corrupt and inefficient. “We have given him a sinking ship,” he said.
Honest, meritorious people were leaving Pakistan because of the absence of jobs and industry, Hashwani said, adding that the leadership’s biggest failure was the neglect of education. He was particularly critical of former president Zia-ul-Haq.
China, he said, would gain the most from the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, but all regions of Pakistan would benefit from the massive project.