By Senator Rehman Malik
Pakistan is passing through multiple national and international crises which include Afghanistan versus the Afghan Taliban, the Afghan Taliban versus Pakistan, Anti-Pak Afghan groups versus Pakistan, Pakistan versus India, the Kashmir issue, the US versus Pakistan, FATF versus Pakistan and sensitivities with China. We are facing the worst price hike, high inflation, depletion of rupee against dollars, a declining growth rate and petroleum products are continuously going high. The population is going below the poverty line as the gap between rich and poor is widening.
Unfortunately, our political elites including major political parties have neither given their required qualitative input publically nor in parliament to improve the situation. This silence of political leadership on vital national and international issues is very worrying as the leadership has failed to give any guidance or even proposed economic policies for our poverty-ridden nation.
The country’s political leadership is stuck in a mutual political duel on non-issues like should Shehbaz Sharif be allowed to go abroad or not, why the court granted bail to President Asif Ali Zardari and why Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has gone to the US. This shows that our political elite has fallen so low that some leaders cross abuses on personal fronts, allege each other for corruption cases, and the level of immaturity can well be seen by the conduct of leadership on a daily basis. The leadership is ditching each other at both the government and opposition levels adding to weaken the system and dismaying the public. Our parliament has become a world icon of display of abuses with less performance for the public and more display of their abilities using their art of abusive language to please their top bosses. The nation hardly sees any input on these grave international issues connected with our national interests and future generations as there is no popular plan of development to build Pakistan. Please allow me to highlight the best model of prosperity and progress in the world which is China, perhaps the best to be adopted.
I wish our politicians chose China as a role model to bring prosperity to the country. I wish my brief introduction of China’s determination and national spirit below will perhaps attract our leaders to transform like them to gear the country towards prosperity. The nation develops and prospers with collective strategy, concerted and honest efforts. Countries with collective wisdom and approach are now shining in the world.
National interest should be above personal interests and gains. Our agenda of national prosperity and dignity should be well defined through an act of parliament and should be formulated by the experts of the respected field and then be approved by the Parliament in the form of law to ensure its implementation through well-defined moral and administrative rules. China was in a much adverse situation as a nation, although they got independence after us yet it is startling to see their unmatched progress. Even though their population is 1.2 billion larger than ours as Pakistan’s population is 180 million while that of China is 1.3 billion, yet they are progressing by leaps and bounds and nobody sleeps hungry.
If we look closely at the graph of their rise and progress, you will see that they concentrated more on their economy, education, technology, industrialisation, infrastructure, agriculture, energy, and the growth of their country rather than indulging in mainstream dirty politics. China revamped its political system, covered all segments of the society, and gave its public a sense of ownership and participation. They first weeded out the political corrupt deadweights which were resisting modernisation and promoting corruption. The principle of equality prevailed and the rule of law became a priority. They made education compulsory and the professors of top universities became the top stakeholders of the economic and administrative hierarchies.
After the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 there was a vacuum of power in China which led to political chaos. China was being exploited by foreign powers and there was no strong central government to lead the nation. At that time, China’s vast majority consisted of peasants and farmers; their life was so hard, they had to work the land and pay taxes. They would even starve during floods and droughts as there was no facility given to them. The population was growing whereas the land cultivation grew by 1 percent only, making the peasants have reduced plots of lands. Moreover, the landlords also increased the rents, making the peasants pay 80 percent of their harvest. On the other hand, China was defeated by Britain in the Opium wars due to which the Chinese Empire was interrupted and influenced by Europeans, Americans, and also Japan by the end of 19th century. Inflation and corruption weakened the Qing Empire resulting in its collapse. Before the economic reforms and trade liberalisation of China nearly 40 years ago, the country maintained policies that kept the economy very poor, stagnant, centrally controlled, inefficient, and relatively isolated from the global economy.
Mao Zedong was the leader of the Communist Party (CPC) who wanted to unify China and get rid of external warlords. Mao Zedong led peasants and common people in uprisings against them. The civil war continued for years and by 1948, the CPC had almost gained momentum. They were constantly gaining support within the population of China as they continued to take national cities back and by 1949 they had captured Beijing. This was the era of the Chinese revolution and Mao Zedong is the reason for what China has become today.
After the death of Mao, Deng Xiaoping was the most powerful figure in the People’s Republic of China who made significant efforts in boosting the Chinese economy. Since opening up to foreign trade and free-market and investment reforms in 1979 during his rule, China has been among the world’s fastest-growing economies. China has had a real annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaging 9.5 percent through 2018 in history. Such a fast pace in growth by 25 folds enabled China to double its GDP every eight years and helped raise an estimated 800 million people out of poverty. China became the world’s largest economy, manufacturer, merchandise trader, and holder of foreign exchange reserves which in turn has made China a major commercial partner of the United States. The Chinese government made innovation and a strong consumer market a top priority in its economic planning through several high-profile initiatives to upgrade and modernise China’s manufacturing in every key sector. China has promoted more privately-owned companies through extensive government assistance to make China a major global player in all major economic sectors. In short, every new Chinese Leadership has focused to do better than the former one in terms of economic progress and prosperity of the nation on the stage of the world regardless of what their opponents are doing or saying, unlike Pakistan.
I wish our leadership also adopts this spirit and the qualities of Chinese leadership to provide similar services to their nation by not remaining unconcerned about our national and international pressing issues which need attention and collective wisdom to steer the country out of the crisis. It is needed that our leaders, rather than wasting their time and energy by poking each other’s personal affairs and entertaining the public by hurling abuses at each other in the parliament and before the electronic media, raise their stature by doing public service and focus on the economic progress of their country like China. Political leadership needs to wake up to defend their homeland and their nuclear assets from the external inimical factors such as FATF, Modi with an anti-Pak syndrome, and abuses by President Ghani. Our political parties and politicians need to become proactive in steering Pakistan out of crises. Nations develop and become prosperous with collective strategies and with united voices and actions like China.
It looks like that time is approaching when the public is under the pressure of price hikes and other growing social issues including youth drug addiction issue will force them to ask for the change of some new administrative system which could get rid of their miseries. The present deteriorated political system where the senators’ selection is for the price Rs over billions of rupees and the selected NNAs are from the electable families then how can the parliament be represented by the common man. There is hardly any participation of a common man in the administrative and political system.
No labourer or middle-class young can ever dream of being in parliament like China or any other democratic system. It has failed to provide relief to a common man whereas we are ruled by the electable and with the influence of few powerful business mafias pulling the strings from behind. The public is reacting and the initial emerging angry signs are dangerous which may lead the country to irreversible damage and force the public to march towards some bloody revolution for their legitimate rights.
(The views expressed are solely mine and do not necessarily represent the views of my party. The writer is former Interior Minister of Pakistan, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Chairman of Think Tank “Global Eye”. He is the author of four books and his fifth book is about to get published. He can be reached at: email@example.com, Twitter