- Monday, 16 February 2015 08:50
by Syed Fakir Ayazuddin
One must examine the reasons for the collapse of governance in Pakistan, and install methods to correct the imbalance.
The existing laws are adequate, and have served Pakistan well. It is the politician that considers himself above the law by assuming a mantle of royalty. Unfortunately the politicians forget that there is only one King, and the rest are all subjects bound to obey the law. Here it seems everyone considers themselves beyond the law. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the first person to politicise the law, and to declare to his Party members that they would never be prosecuted, and as such they behaved accordingly, like lesser royals but royal nevertheless. An example is that a politician's daughter on her recent trip on PIA, insisted that her maid servant be upgraded to Club Class, and was turned down. The matter took a serious turn but was eventually hushed up. In other countries where Royalty does exist, when cases like this happen, the Monarch is dissuaded, or does lose his crown.
In Pakistan,the political system itself has been bent out of shape and can be interpreted in any manner, this interpretation is the choice of the politician of the day. It is always to the benefit of the politico. If matters do rise to the notice of the PM he invariably decides in favour of the politician, especially if he is a member of the PM’s Party. And so it continues till it is the PM himself who is the main beneficiary of this bias in the system, as there is no true opposition, for all are feeding at the same trough. So the Assembly members will not question him, even though it is the appropriate forum for such discussions. But, bound as they are by Party discipline, or advanced sycophancy, the combined houses dare not whisper, or question any failure of the PM to address such issues of importance to the public. Perhaps a notice board should be established so that members of the public can place their concerns in a public domain, for easy reference and to draw attention of the Minister/authority concerned. The Assembly proceedings are stifled by the House itself, to establish that the house is not answerable to anyone other than another member. And so a blanket of convenience is drawn to protect the Members from anyone questioning the omissions by the members. The members would like to have accountability only at the time of elections, as public memory is notoriously short. Whereas it would be more practical if the public scrutiny were invoked earlier or closer to the time of the offence.
Perhaps the politicians should be met with an avalanche of raw, bad eggs as in the western lands. This is probably the least painful, but could be the most effective way to bring the politican down to earth, out of the cocoon of privilege that the politician protects his persona with, also keeping his assets away from the prying eyes of the taxman.
The Prime Minister must attend the Assembly sessions, for that is the beginning of the accountability. For how long can the PM silence his critics doling out expensive favours, at great cost to the Nation. In fact these favours should be tabulated and assessed by auditors. Appropriate penalties should be applied where necessary. Above all the Law must be enforced at all levels. The people of Pakistan should be made to realize that all are equal before the law. Evading the law must be made extremely painful, so much so that obeying the law should be the only option. All these and other matters are not something special, they are requirements of the normal life of citizens. Any other behaviour should be deemed criminal and unacceptable to society. So if a Prime Minister and his family have not paid their taxes they should be ostracised for this behaviour, in fact the penalties of non-payment of taxes should be even more stringent. The collection of back taxes should be studied carefully, so that no-one escapes the net.
In the olden days if an area did not pay taxes war was declared and the taxes and punitive damages were enforced. In Pakistan, the elite have decided that being above the law, they need not pay taxes. Displaying this act of rebellion against the state as an expression of freedom. The inference that they are rebelling against the State is nonsense. It is pure and simple thievery, and should be punished as a crime. All those businessmen and politicians not paying their taxes should be punished as criminals. Certainly not to be elected into political offices and to put them beyond the pale of the law. In fact the social contracts should be revisited, making avoidance of taxes immoral and as unacceptable as dealing in drugs. Or any other serious crime. For it does strike at the very root of government. Without revenues no Government can function. Every politician that has cheated on taxes as per his return filed with the election tribunal should stand disqualified, and /or face the mandatory prison sentence. To bravely state how much he is paying into the UK or US coffers, does not entitle him to the political prowess by enrolling him into a special club in Pakistan of the powerful elite who then misuse that power. The trust that is bestowed upon this elite club is not to be betrayed by misuse. Entire cultures have been based on this contract between the rulers and the ruled. Even religions are based on this contract, and the ties are made stronger by redefining these infractions into sins. Religions have been instrumental in making these infractions punishable in the hereafter as well. The ten commandments are a prime example of social laws being declared as sins, then giving punishments after death, so the penalty is inescapable, even beyond the grave.