Pakistan – a land of confusion

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By Senator Rehman Malik
Pakistan has become land of confusion where a normal Pakistani passes through a phase of confusion irrespective of his social status. The confusion and fear have become integral part of our system. Either we are confused or we are dealing with a confused situation on the other end. Our government servants are confused as to whether or not they should take a decision in a matter before them for the reasons that if bureaucrats take the decision on merit then their political bosses may get annoyed and if they take decisions as per the wish of their political bosses, then they may invite the wrath of NAB or FIA eventually landing them in the jail and when they see many of their colleagues in trouble they get more worried and confused. This state of confusion eventually contributes towards delay in the disposal of official matters at the cost of miseries of the general public and the efficiency of the governance. The government functionaries are confused and sandwiched between their political masters and fear of accountability. As we speak, most of the government departments are almost shut down as far as the important issues are concerned, where a decision is required with application of mind with prudence.
Policy makers and decision makers are being seen as crippled. There is no doubt that the fear of accountability is the best yard stick for good governance but governance works on system and strong foundations of any system are dependant on the performance of the institutions. The system has been deteriorated and is suffering from a virus of nepotism and corruption, and few law enforcement actions can not rectify the situation unless the system is overhauled as a national priority.
What we see today is that public dealing offices have continued to indulge in corruption and despite the fear of NAB and FIA, the level of corruption is the same and many continue their activities with immunity. When general public faces this treatment at the hands of corrupt government servants, they turned more confused as to whether these government servants are responsible for providing relief to the general public or the other way around. Pakistan is today ranked 117th in the list of 180 corrupt countries. There has been an estimated $3-4 billion flight of capital from Pakistan to Gulf States in last two years in addition to serious brain drain.
A petitioner enters the court with great hope to get relief but he has to face the same state of treatment from everyone who is connected to his petition in any manner like lawyer, the ‘munshis’ of the lawyer and the officials of the court. The petitioner gets confused over the working of the judicial system where rather than getting any relief, he is put under more stress in terms of his time, money and mental tension. His confusion forces him to say goodbye to his claim to get relief and many have died while waiting for justice whereas justice is the key to prosperity and progress of a nation. The question needs to be examined is: if the criminal justice system has multiple confusions or the justice seeker is confused. It is the high time to sort out this national tragedy.
A strong political system is guarantee to the real democracy and democracy gets stronger by the implementation of the Constitution.
Now we have yet to see that our political system is free of multiple confusions and present time is displaying worst model of confusion. The Government, opposition, political parties and institution are unable to deliver to the masses. It is an era of blame games to each other and every leader is talking of bringing “Tabdeeli” (change) but none wants to bring Tandeeli within himself.
What tabdeeli are we talking about and what good have we – the politicians and institutions – brought so far? Response is ‘none’. Can we claim that we are a nation of unity? No. Or as a nation do we have consensus on our major policies, the response is again no. Have we rectified our economic parameters? Have we stopped begging from others? No. Have we set a course to retire our debts to get our coming generation debt free? The answer is again No. Have we given a doable action plan to alleviate the confusion of the masses? The answer is no. Have we done some improvement in our policing and criminal justice programme? No. Have we given the people a national health programme? Again, no.
If a leader believes only in furious speeches and abuses, and makes tall claims then one rightly questions as to what the leadership is giving in terms of relief to a common man? Can the political slogans give food to the poor and can these slogans get good education and health to the children? Can the paid and sponsored big public gatherings bring any relief to the masses? When the common man hears the tall slogans in rallies or on the TV screen he gets further confused, as there is no qualitative change in his life as he continue to suffer the hammer of poverty and poverty continues to multiply his miseries. Pakistan is ranked 53rd among top poorest countries of the world and still we boast of improvement in the economy but doing nothing to improve it. 2017 brought a decline in exports by 3.3pc from $25billion in 2016 to $20 billion. Currencies value to dollar shows we are even worst than Bangladesh and India: 1 dollar = 83.09 BD Taka and 1 dollar = 65.04 Indian Rupees.
This growing poverty is driving Pakistan below the poverty line and the poor man under false promises once again votes for the politicians with the hope that perhaps this time the vote may bring changes to his life. He is confused between vote and change and it adds further to his confusion and miseries. These continued miseries and disappointment of masses can create non-ending conflict between rich and poor and that would be a dangerous situation, which needs to be averted in the national interest. According to 2016 analysis report, nearly 39 per cent of Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty, with the highest rates of poverty in FATA and Baluchistan. 29.5 (55 million people) per cent of country’s population is living below the poverty line.
Now is the time that planning should be done for the poor and produce at least two budgets to alleviate poverty. Currently, the elites are the masters of the politics in the country and imagine the scenario when the poor masses decide to grab the power politics eventually making the elite political forces to cry ” Hamain Kiyun Nikala”.
These are my personal feeling as close observer of human behaviour in the country. I have dealt with many people from junior civil servants to senior most positions and then interior minister and now dealing as a parliamentarian and I find a kind of dissatisfaction in the eyes of a common man and the common man is now clearly feeling the gap between the elite class and poor. Will our policies ever narrow this gap or it will further widen the gulf of discontentment to the disadvantage of the country. The State has to think why a poor family is forced to sell a child to be used as a suicide bomber and why a father kills himself and his children. This is all due to poverty driven episodes in our society. 2017 statistics have shown that 22.6 million children (44pc) in Pakistan are still out of school and this reflects on our education policy.
An unofficial survey conducted over a period of two years in 2017, reported over 300 suicidal deaths in Pakistan from 35 different cities. The findings showed that men outnumber women by 2:1. The reasons include unemployment, health issues, poverty, homelessness, and economic depression. Pakistan is ranked as 4th unsafe country in the world and in this given situation who is going to invest with us?
This is called communal confusion. The nation has a right to ask as to why are we behind the developing world when we have rich natural resources and vast land for cultivation. The nation has also right to ask as to why we have failed to properly explore our rich natural resources to the advantage of the people of Pakistan. Are we waiting for divine help, which will make Pakistan a prosperous country? Even “God helps those who help themselves”.
Let us all work together to get the nation out of this state of confusion.
(The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Body on Interior and Narcotics.rmalik1212@gmail.com. @senrehmanmalik)