Beautifying Pakistan: A Unique Chance For A Big Leap Forward
24 July 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
Throughout its existence since August 14, 1947; Pakistan has
perennially remained in troubled waters. From the anarchy of the initial years
to the interspersing of democratic stints, to military dictatorships, it has
been overshadowed by a constant threat of disintegration as a state. This
disintegration came off in 1971 when its eastern part then known as East
Pakistan was truncated.
While East Pakistan changed
her nomenclature to Bangladesh, the West wing came to be known as Pakistan. It
was a cataclysmic event that happened in contemporary history when a state
dismembered barely 24 years after its birth and independence from the colonial
All these years, Pakistan earned strictures such
as a failed state, a country not viable to stay on the world map and a nation
moving towards eventual extinction or another disintegration a la East
Pakistan. Pakistani society is infested with myriad chronic problems that
range from poor social and utility services to unstable or dysfunctional
institutions as well as sway of reactionary cutthroat religious militants. The
competent, efficacious, egalitarian and public welfare oriented governance has
ever remained elusive.
The mutual bickering and
intolerance of the politicians kept the functioning of democratic form of
government fragile and vulnerable to army intervention that always stepped in
as an interim arrangement. Yet in due course the army would consolidate its
hold on power as long as it could hang on. As such a stable democratic culture
could not take roots.
The state governance and power wielding alternated between a
non-representative military set up and the political power grabbers who were
more concerned with their power and pelf than the national interests. In this
pernicious musical chairs game, the welfare of the people and development of
the country was always kept on back burners.
incumbent PMLN government has been embarking on the same track that was being
traversed by Musharraf and later by the PPP dispensation in combating the
religious militants. Pakistan army has been braced for over a decade now
against the radical religious bands to honor Pakistan's commitment with the
international community to annihilate terrorists. Pakistan has been
reaffirming her role as an unflinching ally of US in latter's war against
In such a bleak and murky
scenario, the amelioration of the appalling socio economic problems of the
people cannot be effectively addressed with the urgency and seriousness that
it merits. The economy of Pakistan has always been in doldrums and seriously
impaired to an alarming extent as evidenced by an all-time high inflation and
parity rate between dollar and Pak rupee. Apart from other countless maladies
we have seen that a whole panic stricken nation waits in long queues for a bag
of flour or else buy food items at an exorbitant price. The other commodities
are so expensive as to reach out of the poor sections of society to buy.
A nation is decaying and dying on account of hunger, disease,
deprivation, poverty adulteration lawlessness, and rotten civic life. All
these afflictions have fallen on a Muslim nation of 200 million still
struggling for its survival. These distortions are the consequences of the
wrong doings of the leaders, lacking vision and sincerity. The motives and
agendas of successive leaders have been to capture power and milk the national
Every year loans of billions of rupees are conveniently written off. These
loans are granted to robber barons whose bellies and bank accounts are already
bulging like swelling balloons. There is the least accountability for
rapacious robbing of the national wealth which must be spent on people's
welfare and country's advancement. Panama Leaks speak volumes the way the
ill-gotten wealth of this poor country has been dumped abroad by top notches
in politics, business and in service.
Pakistan is in
emergent need of a new revolutionary social contract that should encompass
radical remedial changes in every domain and discipline of our society. It
should start from abolition of feudalism and Sardari system to abundant and
adequate availability of civic facilities namely electricity, water,
transportation, good roads, railways, jobs etc. Social and legal justice
should be liberated from the onslaughts of the pressure groups and influential
individuals and bribery.
There is an appalling mess
all over in Pakistan that instead of diminishing is accentuating. Democracy is
the finest system of government provided it can ensure social justice and
equality of opportunities and basic services. We need dedicated, visionary,
and honest leadership that can put Pakistan on the way to economic and
institutional stability and civic galore, as we witness in the Western
It all depends upon the quality, sincerity,
and caliber of the leaders whether they make or break a nation. We in
Pakistani have been having gangsters, thugs, custodians and savior of an
exploitative system with such despicable manifestations as feudalism, elitism,
untouchable military and civil bureaucracy and so on.
It is therefore; absolutely imperative that Pakistan's socio- economic and
political landscape must be completely reoriented and refurbished. The status
quo must be quashed, and new vigorous radical and revolutionary agenda should
be evolved. A new social contract must be written that brings about structural
and institutional changes in all spheres of society.
The change in attitudes, social behaviors, the modernization of civic
facilities and social services should be accorded the utmost and top priority
to ensure a decent and worthwhile quality of life of the citizens. The
Pakistan nation is mired in a primitive mode of life with rampant
superstitions, myths of mystical healings, graves and tombs worshipping, power
of the voodoos and fanciful stories of the past beguiling the people to remain
Pakistan is stuck up in a morass of
abysmal degradations of all kinds: open sewage lanes, cattle stalking,
pollution of smoke and noise, human and animal excretion blanketing the entire
country, pervading stink in the air, narrow roads, heaps of rotting garbage,
traffic madness and overstuffed public vehicles, life threatening adulteration
of food and medicines, vermin infested water, power cuts et el. The
officialdom and the departmental network are corrupt, too ill trained, too
myopic, too ill equipped, too poorly financed and too outdated to take the
bull of these stupendous challenges by horn.
a few broad outlines of a social contract or an agenda that can be
instrumental in initiating the much and long coveted transformation in
Pakistan. As already stated only a leadership that is genuinely sincere and
dedicated to making Pakistan a civically neat, environmentally modern and
politically progressive, prosperous, democratic and egalitarian state can
enforce it. There might not be immediate and forthcoming results but a
direction and course would be set in motion and the first momentous steps
could gradually change the whole dismal scenario into the resplendent one with
hope and a will to move forward.
The galloping growth
of population must be restrained both by persuasion and official caveats. Two
children recipe is certainly desirable and ought to be made binding.
For devolution of powers, rapid and optimum progress, Pakistan
needs to have more provinces. The existing administrative divisions should be
changed into province. Besides creating more provinces out of existing four
provinces, the FATA, Kashmir and Northern Regions should also be designated as
provinces with maximum autonomy, permissible under the constitution.
The constitution should be re-written with necessary additions
and subtractions. All those caveats should be expunged that bar Pakistan from
being a true federation, a genuine democracy and modern polity. During the
past few years a few meaningful amendments have been injected in the
constitution but more are needed such as abolition of feudalism and separating
religion and state.
While the Feudalism, Sardari and
clannish over-lordship in all shades must at once be abolished, the taken over
lands should be effectively and veritably distributed among landless peasants.
People should be freed and liberated from the centuries old vestiges of
land-based fiefdoms and indigenous colonialism by taking away the privileged
positions and royal status of super land lords against their tillers and
bonded labor. The divisions and discriminations of being high and low between
citizens should be replaced with equality for all. This is what our religion
warrants and this is what a modern civil society demands.
The pivotal role of judiciary must be ensured and strengthened
at all costs by creating an independent judicial system consisting of
intrepid, clean, conscientious and upright individuals who cannot be
influenced by any trickery of bribe, pressure, political influence or similar
other questionable and dirty means. The deposit of court and other fees
through stamp papers (in local term it is called Ashtam) and should be
deposited in banks. The Accountability courts should form part of the judicial
system. Pakistan can take a cue from other modern societies for establishing a
strong and transparent judiciary. The ramshackle and old court buildings need
to be redesigned as most of the existing edifices look like cattle stables.
These have mostly broken furniture and lack heating or air-conditioning
facilities. The judges and their staff is exposed to violence and intrusion.
In the open place one can see all around make shift cabins of stamp paper
venders, advocates and their agents. If someone wants I can send the design of
one of the district or county court buildings in Texas to see a sea difference
between those in Pakistan and here in the United States.
The entire civic and municipal system should be completely
revamped. The civic problems are directly related to the people's lives and
their mental and social awareness and quality of life. People are desperate to
have their pressing and local and civic issues such as orderly traffic, trash
collection, encroachment and cattle free footpaths, streets and roads etc.to
be addressed effectively and regularly. For these fundamental reforms the
''City and County'' system of local governance should be adopted whose
blueprints can be borrowed from the United States or any western society.
It would be an epic milestone if the people in the coming
elections vote for the candidates and parties that relatively have a clean
record and a fair name in the public service. If the same chronically corrupt
leaders and highway robbers return to the assemblies, Pakistanis will forfeit
a unique chance for a big leap forward and a rare choice for a better future
and good governance, although physically it may still remain on the world map.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a
former diplomat. This and other articles by the
writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com.