VISION FOR A PROGRESSIVE PAKISTAN

VISION FOR A PROGRESSIVE PAKISTAN

Written By : LT Col Daood Husnain
VISION FOR A PROGRESSIVE PAKISTAN Pakistan has been the victim of its own compounded (sic) democracy, autocracy, mullahcracy and military dictatorship since decades. There has always been invisible hands with every ruling regime governing this country. All major decisions, specially on foreign policy, economy and placements on key positions are of choosing of the power to be. The common man never had their say in the formulation of national policies, shaping good governance and on matters directly affecting their day to day life. The elected leaders, instead of going to their voters to seek their opinion, they approach their foreign masters for guidance and dictation. The agonizing wait for deliverance of promises made by the political parties before election, seems to be over. The common man has realized that political promises are made to keep the issues alive and to re-use the same slogan in the next election with more twist. The slogan of "Roti - Kapra & Makan" was made by ZAB in 1971 and it still remains an unfulfilled slogan. The funniest interpretation of this slogan by the present government is that the slogan is actually the vision and philosophy which has to be translated into reality at the appropriate time (?). Nearly forty years have passed and most of the voters who got attracted to ZAB slogan are now buried deep in their eternal shelter with "kapra" (kafan) and "makan (qabar)". Provision of "roti" remains a promise in waiting. The successive government whether civilian or military has miserably failed to make any serious effort for the progress and prosperity of masses in general and the country in particular. The failure is of their competency, leadership ability, corrupt mindset, family hierarchy, vision, politicizing national institutions and patronizing the society of "Haves" and ignoring "Have Not's". Our politicians keep repeating that they did not get time to serve the masses and fulfill election promises. Agreed, but they were removed mainly for their corruption and other failures. Whatever time they had they gave priority to corruption and filling their coffers. They never made any effort to honour their promises made to the people. Had they served even a bit for the betterment of the suffering people, the common man would not have lost faith in democracy. For the last sixty years the common man kept running from pillar to post to get two meals a day, security of their person and belongings, good education, prompt and cheap medical facility, affordable daily utilities, cheap transport, jobs on merit, free and fair justice but found nothing. These are basic provisions which every government should provide. It is unfortunate that our rulers have not learnt that they are in power due courtesy of their voters. In true democracy "voters - the common man" come first and elites of the society always have their way to get what they want. The nation is now looking for a positive change. At the first thought, it appears a gigantic and impossible task but for an aspiring nation (if we are) such challenges are stepping stone for reversing the tides of decline. In spite of all the negativity, it has been our experience that occasional national calamity and glory unite us, shedding all differences. This is the lifeline which has to be kept pulsating. Without any shadow of doubt, there is no magic wand to change the course with a flick. It will need concerted efforts step by step moving in the direction, which promises a progressive Pakistan. In nutshell, the problem lies in our system of democratic election, governance, visionless leadership with incompetent team which had always been self-serving and mostly corrupt in attitude and action. Democracy: “Democracy” is the magic word used extensively by our politicians. The common man has no love lost for democracy, they feel satisfied when they get two meals a day, shelter for the family, affordable education, dispensation of cheap justice, effective law & order and jobs on merit. Whosoever, provide them these essentials of life, that system whether democratic or not, makes no difference to the common man. In the current situation, the loud nostalgic whisper of good old days under FM Ayub Khan and General Musharraf which used to echo in the four walls of common man dwelling has now a common discussing point in all gatherings. Such a feeling is the sad reflection on our elected leaders performance. The common man is not ignorant now. They are more wise than their elders who kept voting in the name of democracy. Just look over your shoulder, great tantrums are being heard for the two amendments made in the constitution. Even the highest award of "Nishan-e-Pakistan" is being awarded to the constitutional committee. Is it justified? Have we gone so corrupt even in national awards to award on political ground. The constitutional committee constituted of legislators have done nothing extra beyond the call of their duty. Those who drafted the present constitution, are still living and some are present in the present parliament. They were not considered for any award when constitution was approved because they performed their duties as legislators being their prime function. The two amendments recently made have not provided the basic necessities of life to the common man. So, why such bullshit. If common man is not the beneficiary, then who benefitted? Even democracy has not been benefitted. In fact the two amendments have given new lease of life to the family rules, more powers to parliamentarians to use & misuse and empowered party leaders to harness their party men to act on their master's call only. Political leaders under new amendments will operate their parties as "Private Limited Company" in which decisions of the leader is final and those who disagree at any stage will stand disqualified from their assembly seat. The party leader nominates their spouse, sons and daughters as their successor and no member of the party dare challenge the family rule fearing expulsion for defiance which has very cunningly been incorporated in the constitution by amendments. Once elected by the democratic process, politicians use the shield of democracy for their own interests. The democratically elected leaders become political dictators and military men assuming power tried to be democrat without any root in the masses. More than sixty long years have passed and every passing year took us farther away from our dream of a prosperous Pakistan. In spite of our bad experience with democracy, the democracy is the only system, when enforced in its true spirit will deliver the promise of prosperity, progress, health comfort, employment, good education to all, effective law & order and fair & free justice. To achieve this, a complete makeover of democratic processes will be needed. Adulterated democracy in any form will not ever work. We must realize that there is no written format of a democracy. Democracy is shaped on people aspiration, needs of the nation, long practiced culture, dictates of the history, religion and belief of the populace and geo-political compulsions of the region. Democracy never promotes personal interests of elites and their cronies. The Election Commission (EC): In a true democracy, a fair and transparent electioneering process is the beginning and the last word. To ensure election of honest, educated, committed and true representatives of the people, the EC needs to be reconstituted under parentage and fold of the apex judiciary. It will require a constitutional amendment, which has to be done. We have seen that our ruling leaders have always manipulated the appointment of EC Chairman and its members and then exerted pressure to dictate their interests when election process starts. Every time the EC has succumbed to the wishes of the rulers. Once the EC becomes an organ of apex court with full authority to the CJ to constitute and reconstitute the EC members, no one can influence or dare to exert pressure on EC knowing well that any ill-intentioned pressure may invite judicial censure. This suggestion is likely to draw serious criticism from our politicians and pseudo intellectuals who do not want to see the EC working freely and fairly. Even our judiciary may have to think and rethink accepting such a responsibility, as it may be called transgressing into the domain of executive. However, it is an unusual situation, which requires unusual methodology. For building a progressive Pakistan we all have to take steps even beyond our line with the support of constitutional amendments on demand of public at large who matter most. Such a major move will greatly empower the EC to take cognizance of all misconducts and take punitive actions without wasting any time. Take the case of fake degree holders and declaration of assets by the parliamentarians. More than two and a half years have passed, the present EC appears to be helpless in taking any action against the defaulters nor the parliament as an august body seems to be interested. It will not happen when EC is an organ of the apex judiciary. The Polling: Our politicians with great pride, boast of their sole authority and power as an elected representative to rule this country. This clique is extensively used to protect and prolong the “rule of family hierarchy”. Contesting the national election is now the domain of industrialists, waderas, jagirdars and black money operators only. To get elected, our political parties use coercive forces and fraudulent practices to violate the sanctity of vote and the democratic institutions. We all know that all major political parties sponsor and support trigger-happy mafia to dominate their constituencies and create space in and around the polling booths. Furthermore, the ruling party steadily and gradually maneuvers before the election by posting their favorites on all key positions involved in the election process to achieve election results of their liking. Needless to emphasize that polling of votes is a serious and honest expression of the people's will, if done and seems to have been done in the transparent and honest ways. To make it happen, following measures if adopted will certainly translate the people's will in the election result which holds the promise of progress and prosperity which this nation is waiting since long. a. Voting Index: Till date, even by optimistic estimate the percentage of voters in elections so far held has never crossed 38% index which is very poor by any standard. It indirectly implies that 62% (the majority) do not have the confidence and trust in our electioneering process, in political parties and in candidates contesting the election. For such serious decision making, efforts have to be made to take measures which should improve the index to above 75% where our salvation lies. Our main political parties are not interested to facilitate more voters to come out for voting. The 38% voting index suits them to rope-in innoncents, poors and deprived by giving just few hundred rupees to each voter and then bring them to vote for them. The day our voting index crosses the 75% marks that will mark the dawn of a prosperous and progressive Pakistan on the map of the world. We all know that by mobilizing maximum voters to cast their votes will eventually cause the end of family hierarchy, bradri vintage and kingdom of industrialists, waderas, jagirdars and black money operators. The key to a progressive Pakistan lies in enforcing complete transparent electioneering process and mobilization of voters to come out and express their will without any fear and pressure. . b. Election Duration. The national election as routine is conducted on one specific day except for any eventuality in any constituency. We have to realize that election is not a routine process but a serious obligation for the nation. Election sets the course of the nation for the next five years if done honestly and transparently. Rigging the election repeatedly, severely damages the national character, national institutions and the system of governance. Five years time is a big span which shapes the future of our next generation in their formative stage. Such grave and serious consequences of election can not be taken lightly. Our sincerity and pride as a progressive nation demands that we should give enough time to the electorates to consider and decide their future leadership. The national election should therefore be conducted in four days which should include one weekly holiday of sunday and saturday declared as election holiday. Moreover, the timing for polling be increased till 9:00 pm on each day of election to ensure that office goers and other busy persons can comfortably and conveniently cast their vote. c. Polling Booths: These have to be very meticulously planned so that voters find it comfortable to reach and do not have to traverse long distances. Convenient polling booths save time and eliminate hassel of standing in long lines which tires the voters and they prefer to remain aloof. Every booth should be so selected that inner and outer security zones could be conveniently and effectively established. CCTV is yet another modern technology which should be installed and operated at every booth. There should be no casting of votes if CCTV is dysfunctional or made non-operative with ulterior motive. Defence forces in consultation with EC should be tasked for selecting, managing and protecting each and every polling booth during polling and thereafter when votes are counted and final result signed and submitted to the EC. When army takes over the complete control of each and every polling booths all the doubts, apprehension and bogus voting are taken care of. d. Mobile Polling Van (MPV): Mobile polling vans fully equipped and manned for casting votes in remote areas where public transport is scarce and voters can not reach their polling stations, should be extensively used. These vans should have best of the communication system including dedicated internet connectivity with the EC main frame wherever possible. Furthermore, adequate security by the Rangers and Army team should cover the movement of MPV, their stay at the constituency and return back to home station. e. Electronic Polling: Load on the ground polling booths will greatly reduce when polling made possible electronically. Our silent majority who do not go for casting vote for one reason or the other will be greatly relieved and feel comfortable to cast their votes from home or office conveniently without going through the rigors. An election software should be designed based on each constituency giving complete details of contesting candidates with party affiliation, party manifesto, candidate profile showing their education, family details starting from parents upto 1st cousions, present occupation, moveable and immoveable properties, taxes paid, any judicial case pending or decided in favour or against, latest bank statements, loans taken - paid back & written off and details of other family members contesting election. The software should be so designed that for opening the polling web site, one will have to feed-in his/her NIC number and answer a question or two drawn from the application filled at the time for NIC issue. After having seeked entry on the web, the voter can cast his/her vote. Once the vote has been casted that particular NIC number should be automatically blocked, so that the NIC is not reused for bogus voting. The electronic polling should have in-built anti hacking security and all efforts should be made to protect voting and election result. f. The Graduate Qualification: The government of Pervez Musharraf made it mandatory for contesting candidates to hold a graduate degree or equivalent. It was a wise and progressive decision but considered a bane by the political parties. It was challenged in the Supreme Court. On ground of "Human Right Violation" the apex court ruled against such a law. If formulation of such a law is against the spirit of human rights then a criminal who violates the laws of the land is also a human being, why can't he / she contest the national election. Furthermore, why an undergraduate or illiterate can not be appointed a judge, a bureaucrat, an army officer and an executive in a state run corporations on the same analogy of human rights. Let's consider that to study or not to study is the individual's own chosing, no one forced on them to remain undergraduate or illiterate. So, why the nation and the people of Pakistan should suffer due to presence of virtually illiterates in the parliament. What vision and direction these illiterates can give to the nation. Such a decision is not only a drag on the development and progress of the country but also a very sad reflection when such illiterate parliamentarians have to face their conterparts on international stage. Such an imbroglio in the constitution needs to be corrected after review of the apex court judgment. g. Political Leadership: Leader is not born overnight. Leader is also not made under any compulsion. A democratic government unless it has matured leadership, having affinity with the masses can not stand to the test of good governance and wisdom. The leader has to be decision maker,strong in nerves, dynamic, astute, visionary, courageous, having integrity, educated, expressive, firm in commitment, fair and effective in governance and showing political wisdom. Such attributes grow with experience and exposure and not genetically passed from generation to generation. Education provides the mold to shape the persona of the leader. It is difficult to find a leader having all above qualities. However, if our political parties provide the ambiance to grow as a leader, the political workers having the leadership attributes will certainly emerge out head and shoulder above others. In a conducive political climate such leaders will not bow down under internal & exrernal pressure.Political party is not only a mirror reflecting the ground reality but is also a nursery to groom leaders under their wing. A viable political party always has successive leaders in their ranks who are equally competent to shoulder the responsibility. Neo-Islamic Syndrome: For about a decade, Pakistan is suffering from extreme violence by none other than those who claim to be better muslim than others. They also belive that they have the God given right to kill anyone even en-masse to establish their concept of Islam, better called Neo-Islam. Since the days of our Prophet (pbuh) the teaching and practice of Islam were never so divergent as it has become now. Islam and Neo-Islam are tangently on different course. How and why it could happen. In short, we can say that our enemies knew well that teachings of Islam in its true form are most forceful and appealing to all without any discrimination. Islam as a religion was fast spreading causing serious threat to those who consider themselves to be a superior race. It was not acceptable. To make it more discomforting, muslim countries happen to be geographically contiguous which poses great threat to many developed countries. In the same perspective, Pakistan became a nuclear country and Iran too touching the line. The Neo-Islam concept was first exposed to tribal areas which was very carefully selected. We all know that our tribal belt is inhabited by staunch muslims since ages. They remain armed which is part of their culture and they mostly settle their account with adversaries using their arm and whosoever is killed, is accepted as loser. For them, Islam is their life line but most of them lack education and can not even read Quran. They follow Islam as told to them by their clerics (prayer leader) and they follow it blindly. So, the enemies of Pakistan fitst targeted these prayer leaders, giving them dollars to teach and spread the Neo-Islam teachings which were cleverly worded in arabic giving the feeling of quranic verses. To make it further acceptable, even quranic "ayaats" and sentences were cleverly construed out of context to give different meanings, causing to mislead innocent muslims and turning them to be rigid, fiery and brutal. As our national psyche is, we kept taking it lightly and the government is not prepared to face the challenge. We let it grow and now we are in complete mess suffering every day. The problem may look staring in our eyes, but Pakistan and its people are known for facing the challenge and that too boldly. We have eminent religious scholars known for their knowledge and balanced approach. Our religious leaders in parliament and outside should be tasked in the name of national cause to sit together and frame line of action to settle the issue once and all. Scholars from every school of thought, sects and most importantly prayer leaders from tribal belt should sit together and work out modus operandi to get rid of the menace with mutual consent and approval of all sects and school of thought. Wherever they find stuck up, the issue may be referred to forum like parliament and apex court for guidance and acceptance to all. Before concluding, I wish to make few more important suggestions. We have more than fifty political parties on EC record. Most of them are for name sake only and are being used for their nuisance value only. All those parties who have not particpated and won any seat should be immediately deregistered and debarred. Thereafter, EC should lay down certain conditions and pre-requisites before registering any new party. Efforts should be made to minimize political parties as less as possible aiming to reach maximum of four parties only. Less the parties, more strong will be the parliament and more effective the democracy. In no case more than two chances be given to same person to be President, PM and CM. If any President, PM and CM was removed on ground of corruption or other charges, will stand disqualified to stand in election.There could be many more ways and means to put Pakistan on the path of progress. My above suggestions are just one humble effort. May Allah bless you all. Pakistan Zindabad