To­wards Shared In­ter­ests

Pak­istan’s se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment can now move on a smoother track.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Ashraf Je­hangir Qazi

Pak­istan’s good gov­er­nance re­quires that the civil­ians and armed forces work to­gether.

‘There is no such thing as a tax pay­ing cul­ture; there is only mak­ing sure tax cheats go to jail.’

- US tax of­fi­cial

What kind of gov­er­nance will Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan pro­vide? He has made im­pres­sive pub­lic un­der­tak­ings with un­doubted sin­cer­ity. How­ever a gov­er­nance cul­ture is en­trenched which is un­demo­cratic, an­tire­form and thor­oughly hos­tile to the rights and wel­fare of the peo­ple. It is sus­tained by an in­tru­sive and highly politi­cized se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment.

Will Im­ran lib­er­ate Pak­istan from the deadly em­brace of the sta­tus quo and over­come ques­tions about the elec­tions and his pol­i­tics? He knows only sus­tained ac­tions and demon­strated progress will an­swer them.

Since in­de­pen­dence, Pak­istan’s pop­u­la­tion has in­creased from 31 mil­lion to over 210 mil­lion. Its per capita in­come has in­creased from $300 to over $2000 per an­num. These seven-fold in­creases nom­i­nally rep­re­sent an al­most 50-fold in­crease in the size of the na­tional econ­omy. But the real econ­omy is a dif­fer­ent story.

Hans Rosling’s bril­liant book “Fact­ful­ness” sta­tis­ti­cally demon­strates that al­most ev­ery­where “things are bet­ter than you think.” Is Pak­istan an ex­cep­tion? It is not. Things are in­deed bet­ter. But this is not due to bet­ter gov­er­nance or more re­spon­si­ble pol­i­tics. It is due to global tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy-driven so­cio-eco­nomic changes.

Over 70 years, the ru­pee has de­clined by a fac­tor of 40 ver­sus the dol­lar which it­self has sig­nif­i­cantly de­clined in pur­chas­ing power. De­spite the growth of a mid­dle class and the life-sup­port of an ul­ti­mately lethal black econ­omy, the “qual­ity of growth” ( macroe­co­nomic sta­bil­ity, in­vest­ment in hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment, re­duced cor­rup­tion and in­equal­ity, and the pub­lic pro­vi­sion of ba­sic ser­vices) is abysmal.

Growth is debt-driven. This is in­fla­tion­ary. It is a mas­sive and crim­i­nal tax on the poor and an equally crim­i­nal sub­sidy for the rich. Ad­min­is­tra­tion, debt re­pay­ment, de­fence ex­pen­di­tures and elite cor­rup­tion leave noth­ing for de­vel­op­ment. Pak­istan is back in the clutches of the IMF which an­swers only to its profit-seek­ing share­hold­ers.

Pak­istan’s pop­u­la­tion will be 400 mil­lion by 2050. There will be dev­as­tat­ing cli­mate change ef­fects, in­clud­ing ex­treme wa­ter and food crises lead­ing to famines, civil un­rest

and con­flict at home and pos­si­ble con­fronta­tions with neigh­bours.

Fam­ily sup­port­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties will dis­ap­pear. An education and health-care de­prived pop­u­la­tion will be un­em­ploy­able in a tech­nol­ogy and knowl­edge-in­ten­sive global econ­omy. Sec­tar­ian and other vi­o­lence, sys­temic sur­ren­der to mil­i­tant “pol­icy-as­sets,” and vast un­governed spaces de­fine the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal land­scape in Pak­istan. Im­ran must re­verse a fa­tal trend.

CPEC is not a magic wand that will change Pak­istan’s po­lit­i­cal cul­ture and gov­er­nance. Im­ran will en­counter sys­temic in­ter­fer­ence and ob­struc­tion in his bid to trans­form Pak­istan. He will need to be cau­tious – but not daunted into low­er­ing his sights – and cred­i­bil­ity. His op­po­nents, who are ev­ery­where, are wait­ing in an­tic­i­pa­tion. The first 100 days will es­tab­lish his de­ter­mi­na­tion and likely tra­jec­tory.

Will se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment con­tinue to be counter-posed to each other? Will the elected prime min­is­ter be checked by un­elected in­sti­tu­tions? Will “civil-mil­i­tary re­la­tions mi­nus civil­ian supremacy” make a mock­ery of demo­cratic and good gov­er­nance, in­clud­ing a cred­i­ble for­eign pol­icy? Will his “electa­bles” walk his talk – or con­strain and un­der­mine him?

These ques­tions re­flect Pak­istan’s stunted po­lit­i­cal growth. In the name of se­cu­rity, re­li­gion and pa­tri­o­tism, the peo­ple of Pak­istan have been vic­tim of prae­to­rian and class-war­fare a gov­er­nance. Pak­istan has been made a wel­fare state – for the elite!

Pub­lic hous­ing projects for the poor, pro­tec­tion of work­ers’ rights, es­sen­tial land re­forms, free and ad­e­quate education and health-care for all, women’s rights pro­tec­tions, etc., are fun­da­men­tal de­vel­op­ment


They are ig­nored. In­stead, hu­man and po­lit­i­cal rights ac­tivists are pros­e­cuted un­der counter-ter­ror­ism laws! Or they just dis­ap­pear!

This is an ab­so­lute bar­rier to na­tional in­te­gra­tion which re­quires a na­tion-wide sense of shared in­ter­ests, in­clu­sion, par­tic­i­pa­tion, de­vel­op­ment and jus­tice. The demise of united Pak­istan was due to elite re­fusal to pro­vide in­clu­sive and eq­ui­table gov­er­nance. As a re­sult, na­tional unity, de­vel­op­ment and se­cu­rity were made im­pos­si­ble. Di­vi­sion and de­feat be­came in­evitable.

Half a cen­tury later, the con­tin­ued ex­ploita­tion and trauma vis­ited upon the Baloch and other marginal­ized peo­ple of Pak­istan sug­gests the es­tab­lish­ment re­fuses to learn lessons, ei­ther from the hu­mil­i­a­tions and de­feats of the past, or from the in­ter­na­tional iso­la­tion of the pre­sent. Pak­istan’s in­clu­sion in the Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task Force (FATF) “grey list” is one ex­am­ple.

This hi­jack­ing of na­tional pol­i­cy­mak­ing and the ut­ter fu­til­ity and steril­ity of Pak­istan’s pol­i­tics have de­nied the peo­ple of Pak­istan their own coun­try. Im­ran Khan has to re­claim it for them. Elected po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have by and large pan­dered to the pow­ers that be. Struc­tural re­form is made im­pos­si­ble. Im­ran will have to turn a new page in Pak­istan’s his­tory by the force of his com­mit­ment and the qual­ity of his vi­sion and poli­cies.

Grass-roots move­ments and sus­tained po­lit­i­cal strug­gle are es­sen­tial for the em­pow­er­ment and lib­er­a­tion of the peo­ple. Im­ran Khan should see them as es­sen­tial sup­port in de­vel­op­ing and im­ple­ment­ing strate­gies for na­tional transformation.

The mil­i­tary will need to be­come a non-po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tion that is per­ceived as such through­out the coun­try. Oth­er­wise, it will con­tinue to be seen as an elite and ex­trac­tive in­sti­tu­tion stand­ing in the way of the demo­cratic de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try.

It is no crit­i­cism of the mil­i­tary to say it has nei­ther the com­pe­tence nor the con­sti­tu­tional author­ity to meet the com­plex de­mands of good gov­er­nance in­clud­ing good for­eign pol­icy. The mil­i­tary has its own pro­fes­sional com­pe­tence and ex­per­tise which do not ex­tend to run­ning a democ­racy or sup­plant­ing it with some sort of “hy­brid” gov­er­nance. Ad­dress­ing this is­sue, as Quaid-e-Azam did, will be among Im­ran’s great­est chal­lenges.

The de­vel­op­ment of an in­de­pen­dent, crit­i­cal and re­spon­si­ble me­dia and the pro­vi­sion of mod­ern education based on crit­i­cal think­ing and sci­en­tific en­quiry are pre­req­ui­sites for sur­vival in the 21st cen­tury. They must be top pri­or­i­ties on Im­ran’s agenda of change. Com­pro­mise will open the gates of be­trayal.

As a crick­eter Im­ran Khan was both a strong team player and a de­ci­sive and un­re­lent­ing team leader. As prime min­is­ter he will need to ex­ceed him­self in or­der to tri­umph over much greater op­po­si­tion and launch “Tab­deeli” (transformation) and Naya Pak­istan.

The mil­i­tary has its own pro­fes­sional com­pe­tence and ex­per­tise.

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