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Malicious rumours

malicious rumours, crisis and conflicts, superpowers, rumours, malicious

From the start of October, the world financial crisis has dominated international news and attention overshadowing the US presidential election along with ongoing military or political conflict and even local event in most countries. The financial crisis has created a volatile economic situation all over the world due to lack of investors’ confidence. In Pakistan where the economic situation was already in a bit grim, a disaster was skillfully averted. Being an established businessman in Lahore for over thirty years, I knew that in such a volatile setting even the slightest tremor (factual or not) in the market has the potential cause great damage. That is why I was slightly worried when I started hearing rumours stating that Pakistani banks are going to bust with Bank Alfalah specifically targeted.
Bank Alfalah is owned by HH Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi Group which had to headquarter at United Arab Emirate. It is the largest international investor group in Pakistan to date. The Abu Dhabi group also owns Warid Telecom and Wateen along with other projects in Pakistan. The group has interests in not just banking and telecommunication but in real estate and power generation as well, with assets over $10 billion in Pakistan.
The company is financially strong by itself and run by experienced professionals like Bashir Tahir but its greatest asset is the man behind it Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan.
Shaikh Nahyan, though one of the worlds richest and most powerful man, is the most humble and obliging international figure. His personality is truly unique. I always wondered why had he invested so heavily in Pakistan when there were so many other opportunities in the world. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Pakistan had gotten slapped with a plethora of sanctions after its 1998 nuclear tests and had become a ‘pariah’ in the international community. The Pakistani rupee was constantly losing value and many Pakistanis who could afford to do so were either emigrating abroad or converting their savings into US dollars. It was in this atmosphere that Shaikh Nayhan started expanding his investments in Pakistan. As a businessman, this seemed very unusual to me. I asked the Shaikh why was he expanding the business into Pakistan at such uncertain times. He simply replied, “I believe in Pakistan”.
It is very fortunate that the Abu Dhabi group responded promptly to the malicious rumors by addressing them openly and arranging interviews of Shaikh Nahyan on international television. His appearance not only reassured investors but also showed the confidence that the Abu Dhabi group has in Pakistan by announcing plans to further invest billions of rupees. I’m not a banker but I clearly understand that there is no bank in the world that can sustain a run on it (i.e.all depositors withdrawing their cash at once). Had Bank Alfalah been pressured by a run it would have caused a chain reaction throughout Pakistan’s banking industry, a collapse of confidence would be followed by run occurring on all banks causing them to go bust. A panic would have been artificially created and without a banking industry, it would cause our economy eventually to collapse. These rumors were designed to damage Pakistan by preying upon the uncertainties of the public caused by the events in western economies (which have a very different financial makeup). When the world economy is sick such rumors can easily turn into panics, Shaikh Nahyan has capable, experienced, professional business managers watching over day-to-day business dealings of his investments in Pakistan. Their quick action by bringing Shaikh Nayhan on TV averted this catastrophe.
As a friend, I knew he doesn’t just invest here for business he does so because he really believes in Pakistan and its people.
The writer is Chairman Jinnah-Rafi Foundation.