By Rehman Malik
IN prevailing condition in Pakistan, we as a nation stand confused; what is the main problem with our country that the local bodies system failed? Two martial laws, despite having best economic experts failed to give relief to a common man. The Presidential system failed and the experiment of Parliamentary system has seen few terms, but the democratic outcome can be well judged that every Prime Minister lands straight into the jail after leaving the PM house so it is the system which is bad and not the individuals who are made to sit on the steering.
This means the system is bad, as even General Zia Ul Haq had an unnatural death followed by General Pervaiz Musharraf’s return issue who has not yet been able to be back in the country despite his serious illness as he has been declared a fugitive.
As a former senior bureaucrat & former Interior Minister, having seen the system closely and had a chance to look into our national blunders and our deviation from our required national causes, I have my views on what we need.
Kindly go through this article where I feel that unless we have a National Reconciliation and Truth Commission (NRTC) do its job and the implementation of its findings are fully ensured only then a smooth running of any governance model be possible.
We need to know why our every political/ administrative system has failed and I am now of the strong view that it is because we need to reconcile with our past mistakes and as a nation, we need to rectify and fix this national issues pointed out below in the form of TORs as an act of Parliament .
If these issues are rectified then the governance of our country will become easy and it will run smooth by any so designed administrative system. The inconsistent and politically motivated actions bring national depression. Any action with the touch of victimization and element of dominance of opponents remain universally detrimental to the national cause.
The recently announced Commission to look into the piling up of the internal and external loans is simply auditing and collection of statistical data. It will reflect past and present government-wise loans, but the Commission is not mandated to have national audit of blunders/ deviation from rules by bureaucracy and political elite for their personal motives. Hence we need NTRC for better and quality results.
We are repeating the same mistakes and running the country on day to day basis and, therefore, National Reconciliation & Truth Commission is the real need of the day to explore and bring out truth of our blunders since the independence. The officially announced Commission should, however, not be mandated to act as a parallel setup to the National Accountability Bureau.
I have been advocating for national reconciliation for a very long time and I have delivered many speeches as well in the Senate House with facts and figures urging for the inception of NRTC — meaning that we need to reconcile the truth and intellectual stock of national mistakes and blunders and then work on a national revamping plan to rectify our past mistakes.
Mr. Nelson Mandela gave a concept of National Reconciliation despite being manhandled by the white apartheid government, yet he decided to consult them and other factions of the society in the larger interest of his polarized nation. He, in fact, gave a way forward to end the national crises.
Following were the objectives of TRC (Truth & Reconciliation Commission) established by Nelson Mandela:
- Truth commissions seek to contribute to transitional peace by “creating an authoritative Record of what happened;
- Providing a platform for the victims to tell their stories and obtain some form of redress;
- Recommending legislative, structural or other changes to avoid a repetition of past abuses; and
- Establishing who was responsible and providing a measure of accountability for the perpetrators.”
The South African nation accepted the idea and now we see this nation is progressing and there are no serious ethnic and Economic issues there. The kind of NRTC we need at national level can be built out of the Charter of Democracy, which was signed on 14th May 2006 between Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan People’s Party in London.
It was laid down in the Charter of Democracy at serial No. 13. (a), that a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission be established to acknowledge victims of torture, imprisonment, state-sponsored persecution, targeted legislation, and politically motivated accountability. The commission will also examine and report its findings on military coups and removals of civil governments from 1996”.
It was the dream of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto that there should be such a Commission in the country to bring out the causes of political polarisation, economic dwindling and division of the nation. She had been a staunch supporter of this Commission till her martyrdom.
In view of the above, instead of setting up a parallel accountability under retired Bureaucrats, let there be a broad based NRTC headed by CJP with 4 judges, some prominent lawyers, Economists and former judges and I propose the following TORs:
The structure of constitution of 1973 be revisited with the purpose to enhance its abilities keeping 18th amendment intact to meet with continued developing legal requirements and perhaps to take out the entire PCOs since 1999 from the Constitution. (it was great desire of SMBB and she ensured to have it reflected in COD).
Why the congenial relations could not be established between civil administration and military. Where were the failures? Do we blame the system or the individuals -full review in the form of case study needs to be done.
How and why a culture of turncoats emerged in the country and their role in political polarization? They need to be exposed.
Why undemocratic forces were forced to influence the democratic process and weakened the democratic institutions? Who played in their hands and at what cost?
How did the country plunge into economic and financial crises? Who were responsible for bringing the country to this stage? Recommend measures to put the country back on right financial track.
Listen to the grievances of all the federating units through open public hearings, come up with the readdressing measures and fix responsibilities on who created the national disunity.
Recommend the constitutional amendments/measures to make the Constitution more representatives of the federating units and the people of Pakistan.
Recommend necessary measures to revamp the judicial system of the country as the public at large is dissatisfied with the present system of dispensation of justice by the courts.
Recommend the measures to revamp the police department’s vis-à-vis de-politicization, independence and accountability of the police forces and other institution.
Examine the root causes for failure of development of National health plan & National Education programme.
Failure of Parliament to bring law on spurious medicines/ Effective regulatory body to control the quality of medicine.
Complete backgrounds and facts as to how we fell in the hands of extremists and how we jumped in others ‘war twice.
Tragedy of breaking Pakistan and the national blunders committed as a nation should be brought to light.
Successive failures of accountability system – full study.
To redefine the political conduct by setting high standards of ethics through an act of Parliament.
It is important for the new Prime Minister to know that the individual blunders, which were opted collectively were responsible for the political polarization, divide in the society on the sectarian, ethnic or linguistic line, economic dwindling/crises are the real worries of today Therefore, the Parliament must constitute a National Reconciliation & Commission comprising of members of judiciary, legal fraternity, politicians, civil society with impeccable reputation to bring out truth out of fictions and realities so that our future generations would not live in a society engulfed in misconceptions/misperceptions. Its recommendations should become binding rules for implementation of laws/ SOPs of smart governance.
The Commission should also be mandated to review the role of the media in the nation building or otherwise with the recommendations to streamline its utility in nation building exercise. The conclusions of the Commission then must be debated in the Parliament to enact necessary legislation to ensure that none of the State apparatus cross their constitutional boundaries in future.
Let’s have a National Reconciliation and Truth Commission (NRTC) and not politically motivated an eye wash Commission to play with the gallery as nation needs to know the facts which have brought us to this worst level.
These are my personal views and do not necessarily represent the views of my party.
(The author is central leader of Pakistan Peoples’ Party, member of Pakistan Senate and Chairman, Senate Committee on Internal Affairs.)