TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Doug Krizner: This year, the Pakistani stock market has been one of the best performers in Asia. But the outlook for the future changed radically yesterday with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
Let’s bring in Jo Johnson of The Financial Times. Jo, give me a sense of the overall Pakistani economy.
Jo Johnson: Pakistan, like other countries in the region, have been enjoying rapid economic growth over the last four to five years. So investors are anxious that there’s continuity of policy. What they really do not like is uncertainty.
Krizner: So if we’re really talking about a period now of instability, how does this impact India, and the outlook for investing in India?
Johnson: Well in fact, Asia is the least economically integrated region in the world. Trade between India and its neighbors is a tiny, tiny fraction of their combined GDP. So to a certain extent, any potential fall-out on India’s growth story will be relatively limited.
Krizner: What about the Chinese and the extent to which they have been investing in Pakistan?
Johnson: Well, China has principally been investing in infrastructure projects in Pakistan. So, you know to a certain extent, the Chinese story is a very deep relationship. Pakistan describes China as a “fairweather alley,” in contrast to perceptions of the U.S. as a much more “fickle friend” to Pakistan that comes and goes.
Krizner: How important are the upcoming elections for investors going forward?
Johnson: Well, what investors want to see in Pakistan is progress towards a restoration of civilian rule in Pakistan. The Jan. 8 elections were an important milestone in that. Now, Mrs. Bhutto’s assassination complicates that, because it now raises questions over whether the election will be held at all, over the legitimacy of any eleciton.
Krizner: Jo Johnson is south Asia bureau chief for The Financial Times in London. Jo, thanks so much for speaking with us.
Johnson: No, you’re welcome. Thank you very much.
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