Pakistan stands alone despite sacrifices

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By Senator Rehman Malik

In an attempt to examine why our sacrifices as a country are not recognised, we need to revisit incidences that have isolated us from the rest of the world. Countries that were previously friendly have now drifted away, opening up space for India to inflict damage upon us. For these avenues to be explored, we must go back to our roots.

Pakistan came into being in 1947 as a separate homeland for the residents of this part of India. The country was to be based on the notions of unity, faith and discipline. Unfortunately, this vision was forgotten and Pakistan was plunged into the self-interests of successive governments that also failed to provide basic amenities to the people. Our failures can be attributed to a few factors.

Pakistan lacks the provision of quality education as the education has not been formed progressively. The primary role of education has been neglected by all leaders and that has resulted in low developments in all fields of life. Unfortunately, education is awarded with the lowest budget, weakening the foundation of the education system from its core. The lack of policy implementation, defective examination system, poor physical facilities, lack of teacher quality, divide between rich and poor, lack of implementation of education policies, directionless education, low enrolment, high scale dropouts, political interference, an outdated curriculum, corruption, poor management and supervision, lack of research, and a lack of uniformity all prevent the provision of a basic standard of education. Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children, representing 44 per cent of the total population of 5-7 years’ age group. The literacy rate of Pakistan is 59.13% since 2017 and has declined further, especially during the pandemic.

This picture of a school in Balochistan speaks itself the lack of facilities.

The second problem is corruption. Although it is a relative term, corruption is rampant in every segment of our society. The bureaucracy and politicians are hands in gloves in corrupt practices, be it financial or moral. Despite the fact that various institutions have been established to prevent it, it perseveres. One form of corruption in our society strongly rooted in bribery, a phenomenon that the NAB, FBR and FIA have been trying to stop for years. Every established individual is guilty of partaking, whether it is a politician, bureaucrat, civil servant, or a member of the judicial system. Ineffective government bureaucracy together with high levels of corruption create significant barriers for progress in Pakistan. It even creates clear divisions of wealth and power, amplifying the divide between the rich and poor. Due to this trend, even those people who are living outside of Pakistan face criticism. The current government of Pakistan has taken several actions to overcome corruption and has reviewed the processes. Despite this, corruption is more rampant than it was in 2019 as the country now ranks 124 out of 180 countries global corruption list. We slipped four spots on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in 2020 for the second year in a row.

Pakistan also supports a stark undemocratic culture. Ever since 1958, Pakistan had experienced four martial law governments and because of that, a democratic institution and attitude could not be developed. Each institution always remained under the fear of dismissal by the non-democratic forces. Evidently, political instability vastly damaged the development of democracy in Pakistan and tarnished its reputation in front of the international community. The performance of democracy has steadily decreased since it has been overtaken by ill-gotten money, blocking the way for the middle and educated class from rising up. Resultantly you see that the level of input in the assemblies by many officials amounts to little or nothing. This situation of horse trading and the lust for power is endangering democracy as leaders look forward to shift their loyalties not for the cause of the country but the artificially created winning impression for a party. In my personal view, the parliamentary system has crippled us.

Children want to get education but the given circumstances in Balochistan negate their dreams.

When it comes to the rule of law, there is a serious lack of respect shown. The politicisation of the police and judicial system in the country denies justice to the people. The police looks towards the signals of their masters while the judiciary partners with the non-democratic forces. Both the institutions are equally responsible for the implementation of the rule of law, but they fail miserably. Now, the result is that people have lost confidence and trust in both the institutions and in some cases, people have resorted to violence for seeking justice by themselves. Even the judiciary has been releasing culprits regardless of the overwhelming evidence against them.

The National Security system of our country needs a permanent cure. The National Action Plan was injected in January 2015 with the view to improve our national security policies in order to crack down on terrorism. While it was effective for the time being, now the failure of its implementation has brought it back to square one. Routine sit-ins, lockdowns and strikes by every other party after every 2 to 3 months have crippled the standard of national security and discipline in Pakistan. The civilian government must realise that inadequate national security is like a cancer which eats away the peace from society. Where there is no peace, there is no development and hence we need healthy, independent and powerful national security.

A strong economy of any country guarantees stability and prosperity. Pakistan’s economy has never been as strong as it should have been. One of the reasons was that the subject of the economy was handled unprofessionally and, on an ad-hoc basis. The weak economy has thus rendered the country vulnerable to international vested interests. The country is hostage to not only the IMF but also the World Bank and is at the mercy of friendly countries for loans and grants. It is being forced to meet the demands of the IMF, in terms of raising taxes and increasing the prices of basic amenities in return for further loans. How long would we survive under these conditions? Finance is arguably the most important ministry in the federal government and fixing the economy is its primary job. The nation has not yet forgotten that even the man that the PTI had presented as its ‘financial wizard’, Asad Umar, had stepped down from the cabinet out of similar reasons right after returning from Washington after negotiating a deal with the IMF as the conditions were so unrealistic that he would rather choose to step down than to take the responsibility to fulfil demands.

The poor state of the economy attracts immense foreign debts as well. Our external debt servicing is currently over $10 billion a year and will remain the same for the next two years. The above factors derailed us, and certain unwise decisions made us more vulnerable to the pressure of the vested international powers. The West successfully took advantage of our weaknesses and used those to serve their motives.

There is a long list of events as to how the anti-Pakistan strategy was chalked and implemented. It started with the murder of Liaqat Ali Khan, supporting the dictatorial regime of Ayub Khan, handing over power to Yahya khan, the breaking of East Pakistan, toppling the government and the judicial killing of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, supporting the dictatorial regime of Gen Zia ul Haq, and lately the murder of Benazir Bhutto. These are in fact sequences of a well-planned anti-Pakistan Strategy.

The planting of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan during the Afghan-Soviet war was one of the strategies of the West, especially the USA, to turn Pakistan into the turf for sectarian warfare, thus making it weaker and weaker. Without realising the consequence, Pakistan once again became a tool in the hands of the USA by joining the so-called war on terror started by the West.

We were once again used and instead of becoming an independent and thriving nation, we became a poster-boy for the USA by projecting its narratives internationally and locally. Throughout our participation in the war on terror and even after the abrupt withdrawal of the US, we have been trying to convince the global community that Pakistan was the actual victim of the war but still, it is doubted for its intentions. In fact, no country has accepted and appreciated the impacts of the war on Pakistan.

The question is why the world refuses to believe Pakistan and its narrative despite losing thousands of precious lives, hosting millions of Afghan refugees without any external assistance and at the expense of our economy. To me, there are other reasons for our failure to sell our narrative to the world. Firstly, the USA had designed the war on terror for its motives and not to benefit Pakistan. The role of Pakistan was predetermined in terms of weakening Pakistan and defaming it for supporting the Taliban. Secondly, Pakistan has failed to frame its narrative to tell the world as to why it has a soft corner for the Taliban. Thirdly, the lack of resources and professionalism within the Foreign Office is another factor that affected the narrative of Pakistan vis-à-vis the Taliban and Afghanistan. Their ability to effectively lobby for the interests of Pakistan have to be upgraded. They need to be given a clear vision and policy to defend our causes at the international level. Ironically, despite our sufferings, we are being dubbed as bad boys and India is being projected as good boys. We have proved the fact that India has been orchestrating terrorist activities in Pakistan.

It is important that the country ‘s economy should be sound and free of political polarisation. The main issue ahead of us is India, which is fully determined about its agenda to undermine each and every effort of stabilising Pakistan. We can fight our enemy only with a sound and stable system of governance in our country.

The views expressed above are solely mine & in the national interest and do not necessarily represent the views of my party.

Political instability vastly damaged the development of democracy in Pakistan and tarnished its reputation in front of the international community.

(The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Standing Committee on Interior. He can be reached at: rmalik1212@gmail.com, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik)