Thursday, November 28, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi
My heart bleeds for my countrymen living in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I am confounded why they have to suffer so much. The country is in a state of complete paralysis. The people are caught in a trance of bewilderment as if they have been bewitched or are under the spell of evil spirits. The life in Pakistan for the teeming majority is miserable.
Pakistan is not in Africa yet the life is no better than that far flung continent, used by the human traffickers to provide raw manpower for nascent America. Africa has remained steeped in pathetic quagmire of ignorance, humiliation and degradation. The black pigment was touted by the cunning and diabolic white masters to be a symbol of slavery and sub-human species.
But Africa is in the throes of a gradual awakening. Despite intrusions and civil wars engineered by the colonial masterminds, the African countries are demonstrating signs of resistance against the latest western onslaughts to keep them subservient to their economic interests.
Africa is replete with untapped natural resources. From Sudan to the ultimate brinks of western Africa, a wave of self realization and self dignity has started sweeping. The despicable, polygamous and lecherous monarchs are in a state of retreat.
The change is visible in empowering the people and forming representative governments. It would be too early to expect a miracle or rapid switch from autocracies to unalloyed democracies. But the change is in the offing. Africa’s future is glorious. Africa in the next century, by cautious reckoning, would be studded by modern states with their concomitant features such a adult franchise, the dignity and power of ballot, the monumental economic milestones, the establishment of modern cities.
The so called Dark Continent would take giant leaps in education and healthcare, the cure for diseases, the prosperity in place of poverty and hunger and the realization of the most cherished goal of creation of civil societies. So much for the hibernating and slumbering Dark Continent not in terms of the color of the people but by the atrocious and pervasive decadence of millenniums.
Pakistan a modern state carved out of the Indian subcontinent for the Muslims to live a peaceful life is receding into a cesspool of suffering for its people. It is a society where hunger, grinding poverty, spiraling insecurity, aberrations of unemployment, pollution, crimes, civic mess, injustice, stalk the land.
For six decades of its existence it has remained caught up in an unremitting and swelling decline. One wonders why this country in the reverse gear of progress is. Whatever hope and modest livable conditions the people initially had, are fading.
I do not have enough endurance in me to see the heart-wrenching scenes of people aimlessly wandering in the streets with the agony and stress writ large on their faces because of the nightmarish power outrages and interminable blackouts that invariably take place many times round the clock.
It would be superfluous to enumerate the debilitating fallout of power breakdowns on the human mind, psychologies, moods, sensibilities and resistance of the people. A nation is turning paranoid with twin phobias: one about the uncertainty of electricity’s coming and the second about its going. Add to this frightening situation the burgeoning terrorism and killing for extortion that have snatched their peace of mind.
Of late, on the television, I have seen crowds of people sleeping in the open spaces, on the roads and pavements in a state of anguish and helplessness and under a specter of looming insecurity. A nation is sleeping in unguarded places to beat the stifling suffocation, unbearable heat and humidity of the sizzling summer in summer and biting cold in winter without caring for the bomb blasts, target killing, robbing at gun points and rape.
Just imagine the degree of despondency that is breeding indifference to even one’s own life. I am talking about the human miseries and not the colossal commercial and industrial losses and its disastrous ramifications on the national economy.
The school going children from the poor families starve and cannot have enough food to eat. They do not have access to easy and safe transportation to reach their schools and colleges. The ramshackle, stuffy Suzuki vans and clumsy buses lacking proper seats, or such necessary comforts as heating or air-conditioning commute between destinations with passengers perched on top and on all sides. The young kids both boys and girls are exposed to falling off or sitting in the company of vile individuals.
The streets and roads are full of nauseating stench and pollution of animal refuse, the smoke emitting and shrieking vehicles, the overflowing sewers and open drains choked with filth and garbage. The ancient cities of Pompeii, Baghdad, and of Pharaoh’s eras were even much better in civic management than the cities of Pakistan.
The offices, the bazaars, the houses, the lanes, the shopping centers and the space between sky and earth, remains covered with the thick layers of smoke and dust that wards off oxygen and obstructs the breathing in a fresh and pure air.
The young kids from the indigent families cannot afford education and therefore have to work in workshops as apprentices, conductors in public transport and on similar menial jobs. The budding flowers of the nations remain vulnerable and easy targets of molestation and abuse by their masters.
The residential religious seminaries present the worst scenarios. It is hard to believe that the students residing in these fortified religious citadels would be safe from the abuse of their sturdy custodians. They lose the significance of moral dignity, propriety and inviolability of human body.
They fill their stomachs with the charity food sent or donated by others. When they grow up they themselves, in the footsteps of their molesters, continue that loathsome practice with the students under their morbid supervision.
Barring the costly bottled water, no water is safe for drinking in Pakistan. Most beverages are adulterated. Most food items are not pure. Can one imagine that in the water scarce areas of Pakistan, the humans and animals drink alike from the same highly polluted pond filled with rain water? No wonder they develop deadly and incurable diseases.
The runaway children from starving families roam and loiter in cities to be seduced or forcibly whisked away by hardened sex offenders or by the heartless criminal gangs or by those who would keep them in forced bonded labor or sent for bomb blasts assignments.
The women are targeted and raped with willful abandon. There is no recourse or remedy for them to seek justice. The police catch the people sitting in public parks, take grafts forcibly or lock the citizens for no reason. The women in police custody or other law enforcement agencies seldom come unscathed from sexual abuse.
There is a one page official form called FIR (the first investigation report) cannot be written unless the SHO (the station house officer), commonly known as inspector agrees. The format of this form was prepared during the colonial rule and still no change has been made in that. Writing of an FIR comes on a heavy graft or on the order of a dignitary.
The process of justice from FIR to the final outcome takes countless twists and years making a mockery of the legal system. The judges, the magistrates, the lawyers, the touts in between are engaged in a vicious game of catching the justice system on the wrong foot.
The scale of corruption, bribery and financial scams is alarmingly widespread. The malfunctioning in every government department with corruption as the leading vice is no secret at all. The addiction of making illicit buck and exploiting the voiceless citizens is in the veins of every person in an authoritative position, be it a small clerk or a member of the parliament or even the ministers, prime minister and president of Pakistan.
Literacy, education, research, social decency, a tolerable civic life, and a civilized environment are all far cry in the chaotic and perennially troubled Pakistan. The religious preachers keep their eyes closed on country’s deformities and real fiendish problems.
They push the people towards the age of barbarianism and primitive cave life and force them to perform rituals and meaningless traditions devoid of real spirit of religion. The Religion has become a robust and ensured means of exploitation in the name of God and fear of hell and pleasures of paradise.
Let me take a break to compare this abysmal spectacle with the societies where people enjoy civic and social peace. Let us take the American society. This comparison should, in fact, be deemed as a contrast. The first glaring hallmark is the order and discipline that runs in the arteries of this society, like the healthy blood in a human body. The law is equal and stringent and is for all.
The laws are humane yet inviolable and operate within the limits set by the society and the constitution. There is no large scale infringement of the law but if there is, the law ultimately prevails. Everyone from the president, to senators to congressmen to governors is exposed to well integrated and efficient network of oversight and accountability.
The detractors or cynics may like to point out the social freedom that they call moral laxity as a stigma on the western societies. But choice to enjoy is left to one’s own discretion as a part of human freedom and is observed in very strict conditions. By comparison the vice is more rampant and beyond law in our societies than what one can observe in the United States.
The violators are vulnerable to condign punishments. The pub, clubs and selling of liquor are prohibited near educational institutions. Smoking inside the dwellings, the offices and in restaurants is completely banned. There is no or insignificant nepotism, no culture of graft here.
From getting a driving license, mowing a lawn, seeking a job, the construction of a house, to setting up of a factory, there are hard to bypass yet easy to follow regulations. If you qualify you will get the needful done readily. There is a portfolio of social security nuts ranging from the healthcare insurance to old age benefits, to free food, to unemployment allowance to pro-bono (free) legal service. The rights and obligations in this society go hand in hand.
The utilities and public amenities from the supply of clean water to electricity, to drainage seldom malfunction. The services such as payments of bills, mail distribution, requesting emergency health or security help are dispensed immaculately.
For deserving students, both either by virtue of low income or academic excellence, there are funds available. The environmental purity is so jealously guarded that literally, not a blade of grass can grow or removed without the prior permission of the city government.
This is not to deride or belittle my own country of origin in any manner. What I wish to drive home is that we can transform our societies into people friendly societies with reasonable order and creation of safety nuts for the people. What is lacking is the intention to do so. The privileged, the elite and the aristocratic classes are above and immune from the sea of suffering of the common masses in Pakistan.
With slick cars, the palatial mansions, the hand folded army of the servants, high profile jobs, money minting lucrative business at their disposal; these blood sucking segments in Pakistan are least bothered about the people teetering on the brink of colossal human tragedy, poverty and deprivation.
So let there be a revolution. Notwithstanding the moot question as to who will lead this revolution. The movement for change can be spearheaded and sustained by the civil society upholders, the conscientious yet valiant individuals, the NGOs, the educated, the intellectuals, the rebellious, the zealous, the students and all aspirants for the change.
This diverse assemblage of proponents for change should mobilize the vast majority of underdogs like ordinary workers, the impoverished peasants, the victims of police and institutional injustices, the teachers and all those who want an egalitarian, welfare and a civic cum civil society.
They should come out of their homes and trigger an earth shaking upheaval for their rights to live as equal and honorable citizens. They should besiege, waylay, and chase the power wielders, the privileged thugs, the corrupt and immoral government functionaries. They should assail the houses and mansions of the rulers and decision makers, snatch their cars, houses and force them to open their coffers of wealth to be distributed among the needy public.
A people’s revolution is desperately called for: not like a socialist or communist revolution but a genuine grass root raucous shake-up that should compel the imperial and licentious minority classes to behave. It’s time for the people of Pakistan to shed their helplessness and raise a hurricane by snatching their rights to live a life brimming with, order, dignity, equality, freedom, justice, accountability, civic galore, and with the radiance of a civil society.
The oppressed classes should mobilize themselves for a society where molestation of a minor carries life imprisonment as in the United States of America, where justice is inexpensive and accessible and where worship of God is free for all faiths. This is what peasants of France achieved in 1789 known in history as the French Revolution.
I have written a manifesto to launch such a watershed movement.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
November 21, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi
In my humble opinion former president of Pakistan Gen Perzvez Musharraf should be pardoned and allowed to go abroad and live in exile. By pardoning him, prime minister Mian Nawaz and his party would heighten their political stature. Is not Mian Sahib and many other thousands of individuals benefited from the NRO and thus managed to renter Pakistan, contest election and get power again? Was NRO not a blessing in disguise for Mian Sahib as for many others involved in serious cases? A wrong done by Musharraf to Mian Sahib was hugely compensated through NRO. That should be enough justification to pacify Mian Sahib and other beneficiaries. Let bygone be bygone!
The PMLN is frantically seized with the trial of Musharraf for obvious reasons. The most conspicuous reason is that he seized power from prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif though as a result of sudden unforeseen developments on 13 October 1999. Let us not forget that it was not a traditional military coup as was enacted by Gen Ziual Haq against ZA Bhutto and Iskander Mirza against a political government in 1958.
Musharraf’s ascension to the power as the chief executive of Pakistan on 12 October 1999 came on the spur of the moment and it was more engineered and facilitated by his nemesis Mian Nawaz Sharif who wanted to replace him with Gen. ISI Director-General, Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt, a loyalist of Nawaz Sharif. But this attempt this time backfired. Previously Sharif had removed Gen Jahangir Karamat, besides having tense relations with Gen Asif Nawaz and Gen Abdul Waheed Kakar.
He was the chief executive until 21 November 2002. He His amended the constitution and became president of Pakistan: a position that he held from 20 June 2001 to 18 August 2008. Had not Nawaz Sharif clumsily tried to remove Pervez Musharraf, both would have retired gracefully on the expiry of their respective terms in office. So the blame of change of guards or praetorians at the highest level must be apportioned more to Mian Sahib than his then subordinate army chief Musharraf.
But then Musharraf behaved gracefully by letting Nawaz Sharif go out of Pakistan at the behest of certain undertakers whose intercession could not be ignored by Musharraf. Otherwise Main Sahib could have gone the way Zulfikar Ali Bhutto went at the hands of General Ziual Haq, a steeled and diehard despot.
Musharraf‘s tenure was not as horrific and stifling as that of Zia or Ayub Khan. Certainly the trappings of power irresistibly impel one to continue with the galore of glory that one basks in and the empowerment one wields as the occupant of the highest office in a country. That is human and that is what Musharraf did by Imposing state of emergency first on October 15, 1999 after replacing Nawaz Sharif on October 13, 1999.
The military government of Musharraf indicted Nawaz Sharif against charges of hijacking, kidnapping, attempted murder, and treason for preventing Musharraf's flight from landing at Karachi airport on the day of the coup. Sharif signed an agreement with Musharraf and he along with his family was exiled to Saudi Arabia in December 2000.
Musharraf was the first military president to accept the rulings of the Supreme Court and holding free and fair In October 2002 that were won by his supportive party PML-Q. Thus Musharraf legitimized his presidency. The formation of the government with Zafarullah Jamali as the Prime minister, Gen Musharraf managed to pass the XVII amendment which grants powers to dissolve the parliament albeit with the approval of the Supreme Court.
But what became the fundamental catalyst for his decline and resignation was his declaration emergency rule across Pakistan on 3 November 2007. He suspended the Constitution, imposed State of Emergency, and fired the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court again. He was left with no option but resign on October 18, 2008 when the countrywide rallies and marches were held by the lawyers supported by political parties and human right activists.
The decision to resign was taken by Musharraf because a charge sheet drafted both by PPP and PMNL was being sent to the parliament for his impeachment. Now Musharraf has been granted bail in other charges including the Lal Masjid bloody episode, the murder of Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti.
The Pakistan Attorney general Munir A Malik told the reporters that The punishment for Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf can either be death penalty or life imprisonment as there was strong evidence against him in the treason case. A three-judge panel has been constituted for Musharraf's trial for high treason under article 6 of the constitution and according to Malik "It could be decided swiftly”.
According to Article 6 of the constitution, any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason”.
It appears that the dye is cast against Musharraf for a trial which by all indications cannot result in favor of Musharraf. It is highly improbable that the army could intervene and force the incumbent government to spare Musharraf’s life in case of death penalty. However it might also depend upon the new army chief whose appointment is already due.
Musharraf ought to get a reprieve, a release or lenient punishment for the following factors:
He did not jump an intentional coup on October 12, 1999. This episode cannot be termed as a deliberate effort by Musharraf as he was suspended in the air.
Secondly he stood by his promise of holing free and fair elections in October 2002 in the light of Supreme Court ruling.
He did not impose another emergency rule after the protest rallies and resigned on 18 August 2008.
He came back to Pakistan with a clear conscience as the leader of a political party which means he somehow preferred democracy.
A host of good accomplishments can be attributed to Musharraf’s 9 years long rule one of which to liberalize the society. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf prominently brought the liberal forces at the national level and in limelight. He averted the backlash from the United States by joining the war on terrorism that saved Pakistan from being declared a pariah state, imposition of sanctions and stifling of economy.
If the trial is fair and judges are not predisposed against Musharraf then the following questions can come up during the trial which might involve Mian Nawaz Sharif and his many cohorts and several other top notches that many an analysts have termed as opening a Pandora box.
First is the dubious and spooky style adopted by then prime minister to remove Musharraf from the COAS office? The order of diverting the aircraft carrying Musharraf to India also carried grave implications for the passengers due to meager fuel left in the plane.
Was it alone Musharraf to carry out the so called unintentional and impromptu coup or other army generals were also involved n it? Why are they are being included in the coup charge. As a matter of fact, it was not Musharraf but the generals on the ground who saved the situation for Musharraf and by quick decisions reversed the whole drama. In that eventuality would the court summon the then high ranking army cohorts of Musharraf? Would it not send a wave of panic among the army high command?
Can also the question of NRO be mooted during the proceedings? NRO is huge bombshell that could be mentioned by defense or prosecution lawyers. Would the court have enough moral courage and integrity to also tag the NRO plethora with the treason case? So that it should be laid bare that there were other dimensions related to Musharraf that need to be adjudicated and dispensed with.
Finally why not prosecute Musharraf also for another sin in the garb of NRO to save his power as is being done with regard to the suspension of constitution and declaration of state of emergency? That is not being done because it could impinge upon the beneficiaries of that dubious ordinance.
In the same vein can the abrogation of the constitution by an erstwhile dictator General Ziual Haq that was more serious ad sinister be brought into the vortex of debate and argumentation? Currently it looks as if Mian Sahib and PMLN are initiating the treason case against Musharraf as an act of vendetta and not for the sake of justice or democracy?
November 19, 2013
BY Saeed Qureshi
With one small statement Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has wrecked the nuclear deal with Iran being brokered by the United States in tandem with certain European states. The entire process that was close to fruition has come to a standstill position. President Obama and the secretary of state Johan Kerry look nonplussed and dumbfounded as if a bombshell has fallen on them. Such is the dictating power of Israel.
Netanyahu wants the entire plant and equipment of the Iran’s nuclear reactor dismantled and shipped to America as was done in case of Libya. Presently Iran is suffering a financial loss of 100 billion dollars per annum because it cannot sell it oil and gas.
In contrast to that appalling discrimination, Israel has a stockpile of atomic warheads besides possessing the capability to fabricate more if it wants to. It has a free-hand to build new housing colonies over the Land snatched from the Palestinian people. It continues to occupy the Golan Heights seized from Syria. Iran is ready to scale down her enrichment of uranium to a minimum permissible level, yet no one listens. Where is the world conscience?
The whole west and specifically America has become the guardian angles of the state of Israel. They are always ready to jump into fray against the Arab states and now Iran at the bidding of Israel that wants all the Islamic states to be debilitated and reduced to client states of Israel as Saudi Monarchy is. Would this gross disparity between Israel and rest of regional states going to last for ever?
May be a day comes when United States and other patrons of Israel wake up and make amends for the gross maltreatment and injustice inflicted upon the Islamic regimes in the Middle East including Iran. These too have a right to survive as sovereign states.
On the burning question of Iran‘s nuclear program, Israel is not prepared to give an iota of concession to Iran. In the wake of parleys about the Iran’s nuclear potential and enrichment of uranium, Israel’s shrewish and unbending Prime Minister Netanyahu has bitterly lambasted president Obama and John Kerry for reaching a mutually acceptable deal with Iran that would deliver Iran from brutal sanctions.
The way the developments are taking place and also in the hindsight it is manifest that the stiff -necked Israeli prime minister can go to any length to castigate and even dictate the American leadership for decisions distasteful to him. Now this is like a spoiled and unruly child bruising the face of an affectionate father and thus not only humiliating but disfiguring him. Such scars and humiliations inflicted by a stubborn and daredevil Israel is write large on the face of American leaders.
Ironically United States cannot take independent decisions with regard to international disputes without Israel’s approving nod. A small surrogate state enjoys the audacity and luxury to ridicule her most obliging and abiding mentor as apparent from the stern statements of Netanyahu decrying president Obama and John Kerry.
In the ongoing phase of striking a deal with Iran, some of the negotiators want to throw spanners in the way for Iran to get released some of the unbearable and crippling sanctions imposed by United States particularly and other western countries generally. Saudi Arabia is rigidly averse to any kind of concessions or leniency granted to Iran.
Saudis and Israel though religiously poles apart yet regionally in unison, want America and the Western Europe to keep Iran under the back breaking sanctions that have already shattered Iran’s economy beyond redemption so soon. But Saudis and Israel and other anti-Iran cohorts do not realize that Iran has a pollution of human beings that survive on bread and butter and other essential means of sustenance. When they talk of destroying Iran and Syrian their milk of human kindness turns into venom.
Saudi Arabia is displeased with United States because it didn’t launch military attack on Syria for using chemical weapons against the civilian population. Mercifully the western countries particularly United kingdom refused to join America in that brutal onslaught to dislodge Bashar al Assad regime.
While such a barbarous venture would have pacified Saudi Arabia and Israel, it could have dragged America into another costly yet devastating war. There is no plausible analogy between the military action of NATO and United States in Libya, with that of Syrian situation.
Libya was completely isolated geographically and politically. Col Qaddafi’s army looked like an outfit of Lilliputians in comparison to the combined gigantic military might of NATO member countries and United States. In Syria, Bashar has on his side, militarily strong and committed allies and battle hardened fighters and warriors like Hezbollah and Iranian soldiers.
Despite adopting the strategy of avoiding direct involvement in military action on Syria, America could have still remained bogged down albeit killing the civilian along the Bashar forces. With support from Russian, China and Iran, there was a strong possibility for Bashar to hang on for a while.
The prolongation of war would have cost America her image and it could also be costly. It was a legitimate decision by president Obama to call off the attack and give the arbitrators notably Russia to help destroy the chemical arsenal of Syrian. That peaceful option proved to be decisively effective than the use of force.
The Saudi rulers are seething with hatred of secular regimes like Syria in the Middle East. They are hell-bent to weaken and change the present Shia regime in Iran. It is mind boggling that both these countries profess Islam, though with some deep and unbridgeable variations. Blood is supposed to be thicker than water. But viz a viz Iran, the Saudis are ready to get the support of Jewish Israel and Christian west to destroy an Islamic country.
And that situation takes us back in history to the First World War. The then Sharif and Amir of Mecca (also king of Hejaz) Husain struck a secret deal with the Britain not to side with the Ottoman caliphate in the war between Allied and central powers. Ottoman caliph sided with Germany or the central powers.
The British government promised to Hussein that the territories liberated from Ottoman Empire would be given back to Saudi Arabia. When the war ended all the Arab lands liberated from Ottomans were distributed among the allies. So as a result of this treacherous role, not only that the Saudis did not get anything in return but also the Islamic caliphate disintegrated.
A similar role is now being reenacted by the Saudi regime against Iran, although here the occupation of Iranian land is not the goal. Primarily behind such an attitude is the centuries old rancor and race based antagonism of Arabs for non-Arabs, notwithstanding that both profess the common faith to a great extent.
But patently the Saudi Dynasty is un-Islamic in character (monarchy and family dynasty are not allowed in Islam). It would prove as the last outpost for a moribund mode of government. The so called Arab spring has slowed down by a sudden spurt of circumstances one of which is the survival of the Syrian Alawite (twelver school of Shia Islam) dynastic regime for a while.
But that certainly is a temporary phase. In the new phase that can burst open again in the near future, the Saud family’s monarchy would be the target for a change to a popular government. This ultra- conservative regime would be swept away with the strong and inexorable current of a new Arab spring. Wait for that glorious spectacle!
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
November 13, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi
I am one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the PMNL and for that matter Mian Nawaz Sharif. But of late I am getting skeptic about the incumbent regime because of a visibly dismal performance during the past few months that it has been in the saddle of power.
In the distant past it would look inconceivable that Nawaz Sharif could stage a come back as the prime minister of Pakistan for the third term which the constitution does not cater. But this has happened with an impressive electoral victory for the PMNL.
Mian Nawaz Sharif took up the reins of the government with the expectation that it would herald revolutionary and watershed changes in the decadent and rustic system by replacing it with the charter of a new destiny. But it appears that the newly elected government is stuck up in the old grooves and is handicapped for a milestone onward movement. The solution of a maze of intricate issues are being defied by a dull and mediocre bunch of ministers who have no vision what to say and how to proceed ahead.
It’s a very disappointing situation both for the country and its people. Undoubtedly, the PMNL government has come with a very heavy hand on the rampant and unstoppable lawlessness and vandalism in Karachi. But apart from that, Pakistan direly and urgently needs structural changes and doing away with the system of governance that fosters and sustains the exploitative and special interest pockets.
The social and economic woes are far from being healed. On the contrary the beaten track of borrowing money from the cutthroat IMF and other international bloodsuckers has been adopted.
Thus far the fundamental changes in the taxation, revenue collection, the incontrovertible accountability, the radical overhauling of the national building institutions remain non issues for the government. It is fine and remarkable to build a highway between Gawadar and Kashghar that would certainly lift the stagnant economy of Pakistan by way of jobs and enhanced business and economic activity. But people of Pakistan want the government to address their immediate problems. These problems are numerous. The most pressing among these nightmarish irritants is the generation of electric power, the lowering of commodities of daily use, and a host of civic and social reliefs.
I would expect the new government to constitute a panel of reputed, honest and brilliant economists to prepare and lay down an economic charter that should envisage plans to push the country towards an economic miracle and prosperity. Let us not get the impression that the prime minister has fallen prey to political exigencies and merely to rule for five years and then depart.
The starting point for colossal and historic breakthrough for a glorious Pakistan would be to enact devolution of powers by creating new provinces, per say each existing province to be divided into minimum four provinces. The best and the tried recipe for local governments around the world is the county and city governments which mean empowerment of the people at grass root level. Those modes of local self government should be initiated.
In this system of local governance, the servants and office bearers from judges to police officers are elected by the citizens of the respective areas. So they remain committed to the service of the people with a clear conscience, with immaculate integrity and with utmost zeal. They serve their communities with utmost diligence because they have to contest again after the expiry of their tenure of term. But what keeps them in the right track is the fear of accountability to which they are always exposed. Once tarnished by any misdeed they go into oblivion, exposed to public disgrace besides facing the wrath of law.
There is so much to do to carve a new state of Pakistan and to reorient the stagnant society in Pakistan. Let us start by building four lane roads (two each side) within the precincts of the cities, with paved footpaths on both sides. The traffic lights should be fully functional round the clock and those violating the traffic rules should be strictly punished. Let us clear all roads and pavements from encroachments that hinder smooth flow of traffic and pedestrians. Let us send all animals to the countryside to be kept in there to rid the society of filth and stink created because of their presence in the streets and lanes.
Let the old housed with dark and dingy and narrow lanes are demolished and rebuilt through construction companies. The residents can be paid soft loans over a long period of time. Every house should be separate from each other and proper zoning rules to be a sternly applied. Let all the stalls, carts and kiosks should be relocated in special areas to be regulated under the city rule.
Let highways should be built between the major cities whose quality and maintenance should be of international standards. Let the bodies of our crooked and rotten truck and buses should be brought at par with the pubic transport in the civilized countries with cooling and heating systems, automatic doors and no overloading. I saw such buses some forty years agony in east European countries which were then not as modern as west Europe.
Let us built neat traffic stops with all the information. Let noisy rickshaws should be replaced with decent and centrally regulated taxis, not the junks that emit smoke and noise on the roads. Bullock and horse driven Tongas and carts should be banned. There should be only one loudspeaker in a wide area to say Azan (calling for prayer).
Let us modernize our railway that is still a relic of the British colonial rule. All the railway lines whether main or branch should be converted into two way tracks. The railway compartments should be equipped with all the facilities that we find in railways of other countries. Most of the railway stations need to be reconstructed with latest automatic signals, sitting lounges and information booths. Etc. The arrival and departure of the trains should be enforced as an article of faith as we find in the United States, Germany, and China and all over Europe.
If we cannot operate PIA because of financial constraints, administrative bottlenecks and deficient standards, let it be closed. Instead international airlines such as Emirates, Qatar, and Singapore etc should be permitted to operate from all the airports within Pakistan. If there is need to run the national airline then it could be confined to domestic lines. But for that an immaculate system from landing, taking off, the conditions of the runways, sale of tickets, and civic conditions at the airports should be the replica of the airports of developed countries.
Let government take off its hands in running industries and manufacturing units. The industrial units like steel mills, banks, and other industries in the public sector should at once be disposed off so that the colossal financial losses on their maintenance can be averted. The public sector should be confined exclusively to services such as civic facilities and social benefits. Let the private sector invest and run the business and enterprises.
Like China industrial zones should be created in Pakistan where uninterrupted facilities like power, water, link roads should be provided round the clock.These could be tax free zones or with minimal taxes. That would attract the foreign investment. The blue print of such zones can be taken from China. This landmark economic pattern conceived by the architect of modern china Deng Xiaoping changed the economic complexion of China.
The Mammoth and overdue indispensable changes in all sectors of public dealing departments and institutions should at once be taken at hand. The education, health, civic and municipal facilities, revenue, taxation, courts, police, postal and all other sectors should be updated with new rules and regulations for the sake of efficiency, propriety and flawless management as one can find in the contemporary world elsewhere. The designs of the buildings of courts, schools, colleges, the police stations and other government institutions should be redesigned for safety, neatness and order as we can see in modern societies.
We have in Pakistan a parliamentary democratic system. This system falls short of making prompt decisions and their effective and immediate implementation. If someone has the muscles and the will to bring a change from parliamentary to the presidential from of government then certainly it would be historic change that would eliminate the delays and intrigues and political brinkmanship. Pakistan is in dire need of stemming the burgeoning rot by quick decisions and their implementation without dithering and wastage of time. That can be done only in a presidential form of government.
Let Pakistan stop taking loans and the so called aid packages from lenders that, in fact are, dangerous traps for the third world and developing countries. Instead Pakistan should adopt and take their technology and scientific know how. Pakistan should learn from them what their governance is and how they rune their institutional network.
It means how they operate and run their local government, their nation building institutions and departments such as justice system, police, railways, pricing of commodities, the construction of houses, the orderly traffic, and the collection of taxes, the oversight and accountability, the establishment of writ of law and so on. There are excellent models of governance and statecraft in the world that can be implemented in Pakistan with some suitable variations.
The present government should emphatically move to build Kalabagh dam and other dams that have been left halfway. Several dams can be built over river Indus at various distances for generating power. Other rivers can be utilized for the same purpose. In America coal is extensively used in power generation plants. A contingency plan to be executed on war footing can be mounted with the help of the private sector to exploit the hidden huge coal deposits.
There should be four kinds of taxes that would bring enough revenue in the federal banks to spend on the developmental projects for a modern and prosperous Pakistan. There are agricultural tax, the income tax, the property tax and the sales tax. For collections of all these taxes the systems being practiced in developed countries can be copied and enforced strictly and diligently. In the United States, the taxation staff seldom comes to the businesses or house in person. Instead the value of house is fixed every year and a letter comes with the property tax amount.
Same system is applicable with regard to other taxes federal, state and local governments. Those who refuse to pay or falsify their incomes both individuals and enterprises must be dealt with mercilessly. No contravention or manipulation of any sort should be entertained in matter of tax collection. For sale tax the computerized register (a small handy machine) should be made obligatory for use for all the small and big shops that sets aside tax on sale of each item.
Huge warehouses and storage facilities should be built in rural areas to enable the farmers and the growers to keep their wheat, corn, cotton and other output for a longer period of time. The fertilizers, insecticides and implements depots and centers should be created so that farmers can get all these at their doorsteps.
The scandalous irregularities in distribution of water, seeds and similar inputs should be curbed with an iron hand. Several groups of experts can sent to China, Germany and United States to learn about systems ruled regulations and the techniques for tax collection to local government systems.
Finally the FATA (federally administrated tribal areas) where Pakistan army is fighting against Taliban should be declared a province of Pakistan. The laws of Pakistan should be applicable to that no go region as in other provinces of Pakistan. Thereafter the writ of the state can be enforced with full might. Once the people of that strife torn land join the mainstream national life, they would be pacified and thus peace can be resorted on permanent footing.
Note: This article offers a brief glimpse and rudimentary sketch of what should be done in Pakistan for a turnaround and for improving the quality of life. I have written a detailed and comprehensive paper on the reforms that Pakistan desperately needs to make it a viable modern state.