- Wednesday, 18 February 2015 07:05
by Imran Husain
The writer is a businessman, political and economic analyst, former first class cricketer and an International judge at German shepherd dogs shows
I find it increasingly difficult to lay the entire blame for the current morass on the Nawaz government. Despite its mega inertia problems and complete lack of intellect one must reluctantly admit that it inherited immense problems created by seven decades of incompetence. Each successive government since Pakistan’s creation has been worse than its predecessor, and that includes this one. Quite a heritage!
Countless attempts at launching Pakistan have landed in complete failure due to lack of planning, failure to account for limited acumen and resources and idiocy in implementation. From the moment the “authority” allowed the Father of the Nation to ebb towards death in an incapacitated ambulance on Drigh Road for hours, the die was cast. He had come and gone without being able to deliver an indelible constitution for his ill-fated offspring. Leaving scavengers biting hard at the leftovers.
What ensued was mayhem. The “Objectives” resolution brought about the change in national concept thus creating the malaise that is affecting the country. And then the dastardly shot that ended Jinnah’s lieutenant Liaquat’s life hammered one more nail in the coffin. Lack of direction, focus as always only on politics not delivery, passing of the 1956 Constitution, bringing the Army Chief into the political arena by appointing Ayub as Defense Minister and ending finally in Ayub throwing that Constitution into the dustbin. Pakistan had its first taste of Martial Law. Setting a trend that would repeatedly be followed for the next fifty years.
Ayub’s decade is the only one that can perhaps be termed as an exception to the rule. He formed a cabinet of enlightened, hard working people and set about building an economic revolution. The focus moved for the first time from politics to delivery. Even though perhaps it was mainly for a privileged class. Again an exception was the housing plan developed and pristinely executed by Azam Khan, that we now see as a chaotic mess in Korangi. An industrialized Pakistan then joined the world community. Only to fall apart as the architect fell ill and was gobbled up by a coterie of bureaucrats that quickly sidelined the politicians. The death of a minor during a Z.A Bhutto led demonstration let all hell loose and the first democratic movement came to life.
A short but absolutely disastrous second Martial Law came into being. Yahya,fell into a trap while in a constant state of inebriation. Even though the Provinces were restored in the West and Pakistan’s first general elections were held, his rule was a disaster. Considered to be free and fair elections they led to the breaking of Pakistan.The result was a majority in the new Parliament for Shaikh Mujib’s Awami Party in the East Wing. And Z.A Bhutto’s PPP in the West. In a calamitous negotiation the Awami League was disenfranchised and the “Idhar hum udhar tum” slogan led to the final nail in the coffin. Bangladesh came into being. The Pakistan of Mohammed Ali Jinnah was no more.
The charismatic Bhutto, a workaholic, possessed of incredible energy dived into the core of Pakistan. Wanting to “build the broken bridges and reach the mountain tops”, he waved his iconic sword subjugating and demolishing all institutions. The army was attacked. “Fat and flabby generals” he called them and formed the Hamoodur Rahman commission to investigate the debacle in the then East Pakistan. Thousands of senior bureaucrats were dismissed. “Generic” Rasheed was unleashed on the Pharmaceutical industry. Major industry, banks et al were nationalized and an alleged socialist government began its blustery, and at times, vindictive rule.
Bhutto was an intelligent man, in time he would realize mistakes were made but too late. He didn’t get the time or have the will to turn them round. However, his greatest achievement in office was the 1973 Constitution, which was passed with the complete consensus of all political parties. That parts of it were “suspended” a few hours later was unfortunate. The important fact is that despite massive assails upon it, in structure it continues as Pakistan’s Constitution today. Claims that it has been restored in original by the last PPP government are rubbish. The cursed 8th amendment of Ziaul Haq still exists, virtually untouched.
Unwarranted election rigging (Bhutto would have won without), a creation of cronyism, led to unprecedented public protests by the rightist and religious opposition and three months later the knock at midnight in Rawalpindi meant the first real democratic government of Pakistan was history. The ugly head of the cobra had risen yet again. Martial Law 3 was the inheritance of the Pakistani people.
Hangings, lashings, complete disregard for humanity and religious extremism was the calling card of the ruthless general that took over. Ziaul Haq patronized only those that surrendered to him. In the garb of humility, he took the country apart. Shalwars rose above the ankle, western dress was looked down upon and Shariah law was enforced in most aspects. Banks converted to the Islamic System, doing away with usury.
The Americans hosted him for obvious reasons. They wanted the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Hence came the creation of the Taliban. The agenda designed by the“agencies”and implemented by them. They swept through Afghanistan and the mighty Soviet Army was driven out. Islamic law prevailed and a heinous regime reigned in Afghanistan. Zia’s mistake was greed. He was no longer satisfied with his role being restricted to Pakistan. He saw himself as the Lord of all he surveyed. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Greater Kashmir. The powers that be quickly ensured that a crate of mangoes would take care of him.
For twelve years thereafter, the politicians ruled. First BB and then the very same Nawaz. The shenanigans are best left unremembered. They had four damaging stints between them, each ‘terminated’ before the end of term. Their focus was only on destroying the other and in doing so, destabilizing the country. Delivery was of no consequence. And a new phenomenon cropped up. Not just corruption, that is a mild word in this context, but unabashed money making through patronage, corruption, horse-trading and land grabbing. You name it and its there. The richest business in the country became politics. Arrogance, distancing from the people was the order of the day. And then Nawaz decided he was bigger than them all. His “mundayte” gave him unbridled power. A series of events, including an airplane hijacking, saw him ignominiously turfed out.He went from palace to the gaol. Sweets were distributed even in his constituency. People were fed-up of politicians. A year later from the jail Nawaz went to a Saudi palace, “exiled” through an agreement that would be always debated. Benazir had already left Pakistan in “self-exile” to avoid corruption cases.
Musharraf jumped off his hijacked aircraft and Pakistan once again was in the throes of Martial Law Number 4. The first three years of Musharraf were probably the best this country has had. There was visible delivery. The right people were collected. It seemed the sun would shine forever. The economy, the transparency, decision making all came together. Even Shahbaz Sharif told me in London, “…. if he succeeds in even 5 of the nine points, we politicians have had it.” Too soon he was faced with the “are you with us or against us?” call and responded, as he should. Pakistan was finally on track. Or so we thought.
Once again, the isolation of this plagued office took over. Cronyism led him to a referendum that was a huge cockup. It put him at the mercy of the politicians. The Chaudhrys of Gujrat, especially. They encouraged him to form a King’s party and therein began the slow, painful political demise of the Musharraf era. The end is remembered in shambles; a complete aboutturn from the beginnings. He humiliated the Chief Justice and then in an apparent attempt to save his power he allowed the return of Benazir and subsequently Nawaz Sharif. The big boys were back. Benazir was tragically murdered. Musharraf quickly reached an agreement with Zardari and the election allowed him to continue as President. This was not to last and six months later he had to pack his bags.
Excluding some short periods, Pakistan’s evolution has been all politics and zero delivery. Projects of mega importance have been totally sidelined. The energy of governments has been consumed in saving and perpetrating themselves rather than being deployed in the commitment to resolve major and citing statistics which were never proven The Musharraf era while promoting a liberal consumer based economy, benefits of which were never proven exhibited an inexplicable benign neglect towards the burgeoning power crisis that has since gone from bad to worse. Shockingly a relatively competent government did not even add a single KW during almost a decade.
The Zardari government tried to address this problem through its now infamous non-conventional methods. The subsequent scandal surrounding the power projects and rental plants tarnished the highest in government. Time consuming trials followed. It was a mess. And did not provide the needed relief. The present government is loud in rhetoric to resolve but not in a structured manner it would seem. In eighteen months little has happened and the gestation period of such projects will make certain that nothing happens till close to the end of its tenure.
Lack of delivery originates from the core. Therefore you cannot divorce governance, discipline, resource mobilization and most of all ownership. In Pakistan, no matter how you may wish to moderate it, there is no ownership. It’s a question of occupation and pillaging. The richest business is politics. Every one of the 1100 plus lackeys in the various parliaments has become a millionaire, at least. No one dares to question their origin or their means of subsistence, a word that is now a joke.They live the lives of the bold and beautiful. In effect they consciously surrender their right to represent the people the moment they are elected and assume the right to greed and avarice.
Its not politicians alone. No industrialist worth the name has his eggs in the Pakistan basket alone. They live here occasionally, milk the system but they weekend in Dubai, London or Bangkok, spend and invest their wealth there in secure surroundings. Is there a need to give back to the hand that feeds them? That’s the million-dollar question. And lets not say “Mein Ini investment Kiti” because it’s a common secret how “Kiti” comes about.
In other countries too yes the governing clique is an elite group. But there are limits. They can be defeated at the polls. This is the crux. In Pakistan there is no alternative or fresh candidates. The real masses cannot dream of conjuring up the mega bucks required to contest and if there are good men with resources they are either too comfortable or don't really care. They will just go out and buy what they want, when they want.
Genuine Politics is non-existent. The current phenomenon is a captured space occupied by the callous with a preposterous sense of entitlement. The leaders are demi-Gods; I’ll not commit sin by terming them any more. Although, they would love it!Consultation is a photo-op. They genuinely believe you can fool all, all of the time. Let the people review their lives objectively and they will see exactly what I mean.
Pure Democracy is a misnomer in the Pakistan context. Review the electorate; Its made up of a population with very limited literacy and therefore very limited in thought and potential. Its ability to address beyond self is even less than marginal. Most are concerned about where the next meal is coming from. The birth rate is screaming, causing immense grief to population and resource mobilization. Most will vote for a dime; whoever gets it to them first. If the “angel” has not already reached the ballot box!
Genuine reform is considered a violation on sovereignty and supremacy. This is what gave Iftikhar Chaudhry the wherewithal to pressure state institutions. Till then, and sadly even after, governments felt it was their inherent right to abuse rules of business and bend them at the whim of the executive. Perhaps Chaudhry went too far, but then it is excess that leads to an acceptable compromise. Has it chastened the rulers and is it acceptable? The jury is still out on that. The appointments made by Nawaz do not truly reflect that it has. The recent “resignation” of the first daughter is an example.
And the raped constitution is restored with the biggest wounds unstitched by an allegedly liberal political party. It emboldens the extremists because it gives legal protection. Thus ramming fear and terror down throats. Politicians and the army have failed to remove this 8thamendment which has given rise to the alternate system of judiciary and the creation of the black laws that torment this country. One that was created along the lines of Jinnah’s, "...every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what his color, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations". If, and God blessed Pakistan at that time, the ill-fated 15th amendment had also found its way to law, democracy would have been murdered by peoples’ mandate and illiberal democracy.
The only visible difference in Pakistan today is that the population no longer fears rulers but has utter contempt. Unfortunately it is unable to express beyond what we have seen in the last seventy days. Lucky we are that Islam is rightist and the haves and have-nots aren’t yet in conflict. But if this 'change' comes its likely to happen unless a transformation in psyche comes about rapidly. I believe the fear of this has finally brought a portion of the idealistic elite to the dharnas. Imran and Qadri may have clicked the switch and prove to be the catalysts for such change. And even if the current situation is just that, a catalyst, it will set standards that should get many a mind thinking.
Media is obsessed by “breaking news”. Everything under the sun falls in this category, even a crow flying over. Local electronic media is throwing nuclear verbal missiles. Meaningless and inflammatory!There is no recourse to defamation laws and thus unbridled accusations are hurled freely in a manner that challenges civilized behaviour. The impact on discipline in society is devastating. For me, media terrorism is hurting this country more than we are ready to believe. It is hauling you back to medieval thought, while you either believe it or are amused by it. And the World sees you as this since there is no neutral media for it to access. The English PTV channel contrary to being a window to Pakistan is once again a mouthpiece of “democracy”.
Pure democracy will play its role when a strong middle class is created without the need to resort to state sponsorship. It is then that laws will be formalized, regulated and followed by governments and citizens. The question arises whether liberal institutions can be created under a repressive democratic system. This what I believe is the thrust of Qadri and Imran but there is no evidence to prove that a government led by them would be any less autocratic or repressive than those of recent times.
The creation of wealth, technology and an educated middle class is therefore of absolute essence for change. Along with acceptance of the fact that Westminster democracy, in our environment,benefits only those in Parliament. It is not by, for or of the people. In fact it is at their cost. Who then will make the ultimate sacrifice? Or are we destined to reel and rove?