System after system

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At a time, already well into the 21st century, when it is essential for us in Pakistan to be setting priorities and developing growth strategies, we find ourselves still wrapped in a time warp. This weekend, Pakistan will be celebrating sixty-four years since the country was formed but we remain undecided as to how we should be governed. One experiment follows another; the remnants of each experiment are intended to create a convoluted format that is ungovernable.

So what exactly are we to celebrate? That we as a nation have arrived at even the minimum deliverables? That we have agreed and restored in its entirety a constitution that was unanimously agreed after dismemberment? That we have agreed upon a format of government that will lead us on the path of prosperity and the rule of law? That we have created an infallible and just judicial system at all tiers? That we have achieved economic stability and independence? That we have addressed poverty alleviation? The answers are no secret.

Today we find ourselves in a conflict about how to administer basic development needs. For the umpteenth time, a revised system of running local government is being processed, rather being haphazardly imposed. Is this all that important and really necessary? It is not a revolutionary method that will project us into international prominence. It’s just yet another form of governance like those preceding it, and running in hundreds of countries with some tweaks. So why not assume that every practiced system will run? What is required is the will to run the system as intended.

Almost sixty-five years on, politically we are still jostling for dominance, the pecking order as you may call it. It’s a quest for supreme power; nothing less satisfies this lust. The entire operation is geared towards achieving this objective leaving everything essential by the wayside. The innumerable quips meant to lull storms rather than actually bolster a process of development.

Parliamentary democracy consists of parties that are themselves based on political personalities and cult concepts and have very little internal democracy if any. There are no political values or ethics, as there is no real ideology or program. There is an agenda of course, but which one? The one touted as manifesto or the one under implementation? The only beneficiaries of this system are the politicians, regardless of which side of the house they sit.

Past experience has created a fear for presidential democracy. The country’s demography lends itself to possible dominance by one province driving the fear of permanent isolation for the minority provinces. In Pakistan, this form has been dominated by autocratic dispensations, leaving a negative impact.

For the last decade, operationally we have had neither form in its totality. An extra constitutional format has evolved with constitutional power being vested in one office whereas real power has vested in another. It seems to be running as well as any other form has in the past. As I said, everything can run. However, sometimes the cost of running a convoluted format is too great. It consumes so much energy that little is left to collar real issues which are hugely energy-consuming. Both mental and physical energy.

Successive constitutional amendments to satisfy the lust for unbridled power have left a document that is seriously flawed. The prime minister constantly refers to restoration of the ’73 constitution in original. This is entirely incorrect. The constitution still contains the 8thamendment that is opposed in entirety with the concept of the ’73 document. It has created black laws and parallel judicial systems. The original document is emphatic that no law repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah can be passed. The tragedy is that consensus cannot be found. Why? This is a pawn to destabilise governments. We need to refer to the original concept, that insatiable quest for supreme power.

While these experiments go on, the needs and priorities for Pakistan will continue to take second stage. Currently, there is no reason to believe that Pakistan’s economic or development structure will change in the next twenty years. This means that the country will continue to reel and rove indefinitely. The real means of stability being that our neighbor does not want to engage a growing population of 180 million.

We need to disengage politics from our daily lives and move towards nation development. We need to focus entirely on the growth strategy, where experiments too have led to an economic impasse. Public sector development with the government involved has completely failed to deliver. Private sector investment has been completely self-centreed. The basic needs of education, power, employment, housing, are far from being fulfilled.

The new growth strategy developed by the Planning Commission calls for quality governance, creative cities, vibrant markets and an energetic youth and community. This is what Pakistan desperately needs. The point is it does not take a utopian environment to do this, just strong political will and selfless commitment. A unanimous declaration on the eve of August 14th calling for Pakistan First would be befitting.

The writer can be contacted at [email protected]