Monday, May 20, 2013

Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan should join hands

By Saeed Qureshi

The courtesy call of Mian Nawaz Sharif on Imran Khan and to offer him playing friendly match raises the possibility that Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) could become coalition partners in the federal government. These seem to be more natural allies. 

Such a coalition can also be formed with the runner-up party PPP that won 31 National Assembly seats. Nevertheless, keeping in view the abysmal and accusations-ridden track record of the PPP, Nawaz Sharif may not consider this option. The PMLN by itself is in a position to form a government independently.

Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan both are centrist nationalists and have profound passion to serve the country in right earnest. Both are deeply aware of the rot and bad governance that has caved into the foundations of Pakistan. 

The chronic corruption that was unworthy hallmark of the last PPP government should be the first priority for the new government to bridle. It ought to be probed that how such a large scale swindling was taking place to rob the national wealth.

Mian Nawaz Sharif is a seasoned leader who has learnt a lot by remaining for years in obscurity and aloofness. He must be extremely mindful of his temperamental shortcomings and arrogance of power that were the fundamental catalysts for his downfall. 

This should be his last chance to rebuild a debilitated and mauled Pakistan by making it a model modern country with a vibrant civil society. He should be tolerant towards criticism from his own party cadres and outside either from the media or the political adversaries. 

Imran Khan who not long ago looked flamboyant and temperamental is new Imran Khan and is talking a lot of sense. He looks sober, prudent and cool while expressing or explaining his point of view. It is a reincarnated and rather reinvigorated Mr. Khan who has made giant strides in the realm of politics in Pakistan.

As a journalist I had been holding a specific perception of Mr. Khan ever since he made his debut in politics, that he is a non-starter. He has been fretting, fuming, and flexing his body muscles and then disappearing with lightening speed from the political scene of Pakistan. He has been aggressive and petulant.

For many years, his party PTI has been a one man show. He was docile and energetic at the same time. During his political journey of fits and starts, he has been changing his opinions and recipes about fixing Pakistan’s perennial and multitudinous problems.

But, of late, he has come of age. He spells out his programs for changing the nauseating status quo in Pakistan with exceptional candor, absolute conviction and amazing poise.  He is no more overly fuzzy or ambivalent about grave issues and monumental challenges that one witnesses on the unpredictable political chess-board of Pakistan. And incidentally he is in a position to translate his ideals into concrete results as a coalition partner of PMLN.

He vehemently talks of changing the loathsome status-quo which means shaking the society upside down not in the physical sense but in cultural, economic and political connotations. And that is what Pakistan needs squarely. 

He is determined to launch a merciless blitz upon the self-serving, greedy and exploitative, privileged classes whose ugly face is manifest in the centuries old feudalism and the so called abominable elitism or aristocracy. He aims at upholding the supremacy of law, the writ of the state and the dignity for the denizens of Pakistan.

Mr. Khan stood by his pledge not to allow ant one to contest elections from his party’s platform unless he or she declares his assets and comes clean in matter of paying income or property taxes. If he can succeed in forcing everyone in the county to declare assets without exception, he can change the economic destiny of Pakistan.

Another redeeming feature and rather fascinating aspect of PTI is the elections within the party. It is a worthy democratic tradition that has been seldom practiced by any other mainstream political party. It demonstrates that if a party can hold on to the democratic principles within its own party, it would certainly enforce it on the countrywide level as well.
There is a plethora and huge pile-up of the emergent and pressing issues for the new regime to address and move fast to bring the derailed country back on tracks. The rampant lawlessness and killing sprees for money or to settle mutual scores have to be put down with iron hand. Let the harassed people be liberated from the blood-dripping clutches of assassins, robbers, rogues extortionists and the ilk.

There should be a team of honest, daring, strict and uncompromising checkers and inspectors in every public department to enforce the codes, rules and regulations and ensure their compliance in letter and spirit. Such a system would be a part of rule of law that is inevitable for clean, efficient and good governance in Pakistan.

A paradigm shift is indispensable with regard to our foreign policy and external commitments to figure out if these were beneficial for the country or not. The refashioning of Pakistan’s foreign policy with hallmarks of dignity, territorial integrity, independence as well as self reliance in economy should be the cornerstones for both these leaders in uplifting a fallen Pakistan.

 The friendly and harmonious relations with our neighboring countries should be central in our foreign policy portfolio. The foreign relations with other countries should not be allowed to impinge upon our sovereignty or to be baneful to our economy. Pakistan should get out of the imbroglio of Afghanistan. It would be in the supreme interest of Pakistan to withdraw the combatant army from the tribal regions.

The Baluchistan inferno with leaping flames of breakaway movements must be doused through dialogue 
with all the political stakeholders in that troubled province. The inter-provincial harmony and unity among the federating units must be built up for a stable Pakistan. For devolution of power more provinces should be carved out of the existing four. That can be a sure recipe to mitigate the internal friction and blame game between the provinces.

The institutional reforms for efficiency or proper functioning should be undertaken without loss of time. Far-reaching and radical changes are inevitable in the income tax regime for obviating the slimmest chances for the tax collecting staff or the tax payers to dodge or swindle the government. 

The existing tax collection system in Pakistan needs to be thoroughly overhauled and computerized for proper and correct record keeping as is being done round the world. Secondly, it should be made simple and easy to follow. The people should be encouraged to solicit help from the professional tax specialists to prepare proper tax returns.

Those who falsify their assets and submit wrong information should be heavily penalized both by fines and jail terms. The assets that they would conceal should be confiscated by the government. Thus a true and transparent picture would emerge and the national exchequer would be filled to brims by way of income tax and property tax.

One of the principle revenue generating sources for America’s federal administration, local governments and counties is the property tax. There is no way that anyone can evade payment of property tax for which the invoice or their bill is sent well in advance. The property and income tax staff is always skeleton in counties here in America. In Pakistan there are excessive and surplus tax inspectors who mostly remain in unholy league with the tax payers.

If along with these momentous tax and property reforms, the civic and municipal system is transformed into city and country governments, Pakistan can have a real grass-root democratic system that would ensure people’s participation in decision making from the lowest rung to the highest level. 

With that if the independent school districts are created to be run and administrated by cities or the counties, the schools and colleges in Pakistan would never be starved of funds as a portion of each county and city’s income would be allocated to the educational institutions.

The civic system in America is mostly run by the cities and can be effectively replicated in Pakistan. The greatest outcome of that change would be that cities would become clean and there will be order in traffic and more roads would be correspondingly built at the city or county level with the increase in traffic.

Then the people would get water round the clock as each city would have plenty of funds to have water reservoirs and a reliable water supply system, without reaching out to the central or the provincial governments for help or to beseech the parliamentarians from their areas to provide such facilities which they seldom do.

The department of land administration and revenue merits emergent transformation. This is one department where bribe and graft are the order of the day and exchange in broad day light like drawing buckets out of water well. 

There are touts that operate between the needy citizens and the officials. The vacation of the land or house grabbed by mafia or influential individuals is one of the most hazardous and impossible tasks in countless instances unless a demanded price is paid to the rogue occupiers.

The existing land department must be computerized for record and data saving systems and transfer of properties. The obsolete  legacies of the past, Patwari, Girdawar, the Tehsildar,  and other minions that present a chain of corrupt command have got be replaced with a small section of professional officials that we find in the United States, in West Europe or even in China.

A separate cell needs to be created with utmost urgency to deal with the cases pertaining to the illegal occupation of properties . The owners with genuine documents should be restored their grabbed properties and liberated from the powerful land mafias and fearsome grabbers. Those so called land mafias that are behind forcible occupation of land and properties either of government or of the private citizens must be dealt with mercilessly.

Without further delay, a plan for creating a network of highways and motorways between major cities should be unraveled. The funds that would come by the reformed revenue system and bolstering of industrial sector should be channeled towards constructing these over- delayed yet most indispensable modes of traveling.

To overcome power shortage the abandoned power projects should be completed as fast as possible. Construction of Kalabagh dam needs to be started without further delay. There is a huge potential of building small or big dams to overcome the chronic and swelling electric power shortage in Pakistan.

Free and compulsory education in Pakistan up to matriculation or senior schooling level is one of those vital decisions that can raise the literacy level in Pakistan. All children until the age of maturity or adulthood that is 16 years must go to school depending upon the age level. 

They should get free lunches and the building must be built that no one can enter at free will or encroach upon the internal class rooms. One can pick up a model of a school from any developed country and build replica of that gradually replacing or remodeling the existing ones.

No child should be seen alone in parks or in restaurants serving as a waiter or in auto workshops as trainee mechanic. This should be punishable by law. These young boys and girls should be getting at least the technical education and not wasting time at work places before the adult age.

The roving teams should check the bazaars and markets if adulterated products were being sold. Such surprise raids should also be conducted on hospitals if spurious and outdated drugs were being used or the patients overcharged or the staffs were absent or derelict in their duties. This strict checking and accountability should be enforced both in the public and private sectors.

 Strict codes of conduct and standards should be implemented and there should be no exception or leniency for the government hospitals or private clinics to bypass or infringe those codes and guidelines.
The reforms for rebuilding Pakistan cannot be exhaustive. 

The tempo and continuance of overhauling Pakistan from every aspect and dimension must be kept unabated. Perhaps this is one those rare occasions when  Pakistan can be resurrected on firm and lasting footing foundations.

These are some of the hints that could contribute towards the nation building through a paradigm change for prosperity, economic uplift, stability, dignity of life,social revolution. Let our new leadership  initiate a journey towards a great destiny


1 comment:

  1. From the very beginnig, I have been longing for the joint effort of the PTI and PML (N) in the best interest of Pakistan.
    I would read your detalied article later on inshaAllah!