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Politics & Opportunities: Damn if you have and damn if you didn’t

April 11, 2013 by  


THE AMERICAN NOTEBOOK

By Asif Jamal

DUBAI/

Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf speaks during a news conference in Dubai March 23, 2013. REUTERS/Mohammad Abu Omar

Despite much vicissitudes, the current government finally completes its term.  It’s by far unique in the sense that it is the first government so far that has come to power following the true essence of democracy and not under the influence of uniform.  It’s a good omen in a way that for the first time parliament remained in session for the term.  Despite immense pressure and irregularities, still, it served the full term thus making a history in Pakistan which means there are chances that future governments will also be given opportunities to complete their tenure notwithstanding how they function!

The governments prior to current, have also completed the five year term but those elections were largely conducted under the auspices of a dictatorship, therefore, many suspects that power corridors during that time were of course influenced and handpicked or were under some sort of arrangements.

Incongruously, the circumstances support the mere fact that Pakistan never uplifted during the democratic setup but under the military administration.  One may wonder why so?  If there is a survey ever conducted on form of government Pakistan should have, people may vote for democracy and if a similar survey is conducted about why the democratic governments fail, the answer would be corruption and if the question of another survey is why military administration comes to power then the answer would be to control the situation in the country.  Shouldn’t this mean if army is considered the ultimate source to bail-out the nation when the democratic governments is actually failed to fulfill their promises and are unable to manage the administrative affairs peacefully!

So far the nation has seen only two major parties in power, Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Peoples’ Party and both governments were dissolved twice, while the third chance to PPP brought at least one positive result and that was the completion of the term other that, it is proven to be a big hit on the progress but so are the other previously elected governments. 

The political parties make big hue and cry for democracy but when they are able to secure the representation in the parliament, the entire focus somehow changes to personal gains.  Every wonder why?

Nonetheless, it is impossible to believe that everyone in the government including the opposition is tainted, it is simply not possible, so where is the problem?  There must be some hiccup in the system that’s why no sign of progress is seen in either direction.  Gone are the days when governments’ foremost goals was to build a landmark so that future generations can learn a lesson but unfortunately none of our leaders, be it elected or selected ever thought of thinking of along on those lines.  Somehow, they all remained surrounded by strange circumstances and yet couldn’t find a real solution to the prevailing outlandish problems.

According to the format of this article, I have invited the two distinguished individuals to comment on the subject, let’s see what they have to say:

Khalid Khan, a reputable businessman, former president of PAGH & a Trustee of Pakistan Center in Houston, while commenting on Pakistan never uplifted during the democratic setup but under the military administration, says:  “Luckily, for the first time democracy prevailed in Pakistan.  In the short history of being independent, the country has seen it all, three major wars, crisis due to Afghan wars such as influx of Afghanis etc.  For sure, we inherited immense amount of unnecessary problems as it.  So the answer is not that simple.  We have always been in the pool of mess.  Democracy is a blessing but it has its own protocol to follow unlike in dictatorship where one man takes all decision, while in democracy, to get a bill pass is not easy.  It has to go through the parliament, get approval and address all challenging questions pertaining to it to evaluate the strength of the proposed bill so it’s called democracy that requires certain procedure to follow.”

Mr Khan further says: “Five years is a long time but cleaning the 67 years’ mess in just little five years is not enough.  However, I must say that current democratic setup was a mess by itself and everyone in it including the opposition and independents had their own agenda to follow and that was the biggest hindrance in any developmental works during this tenure.  But again, the direction is right, talking about our neighbor India, they don’t have any fear of dictatorship why because their system is working.  Rulers should be able to work free of pressure, be it army, judiciary, internal or external, but this can happen only if there is no coup in between. But democracy will prevail and will do better than dictatorship.”

Commenting on why the focus changes to personal gains of the parliamentarians, Khalid Khan says:  “The focus is malformed because of chronic feudal system and power and politics confine to one family, which means, one family has members in all the parties, so no matter who comes to power, the power and politics remain in the same family.  So it’s really hard for an average person to get into the power league.  The opportunities in politics remain with those who already are in the power corridors.  Therefore, their mindset is not to serve the community but enjoy the power so they come with specific agenda.  So we need education and educated representatives in the parliament and only this will change the stance.”

Talat Rashid, a business owner; Planning and Zoning Commissioner for Village of Bolingbrook; elected Committeeman for the Republican party in Will County and  Advisor to Illinois Senator Mark Kirkan from Chicago, while commenting on the subject, says:  “Damn if you have and damn if you didn’t. This is what the issue we are facing. We strive especially politicians who raise hell to have a democratic set up in Pakistan but when we see corruption and inefficiency of our politician we want to go back to military rule where at least general public’s basic needs are fulfilled.  If you go back to the entire history of Pakistan we can see that during military rule, from General Ayub Khan to General Zia and Gen Musharraf.  It seemed like citizens of Pakistan were happy in those days then the era of Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and now President Zardari.”

He further said: “Pakistan made a remarkable progress during army rule, for instance the entire infrastructure was shaped during Ayub era, and Pakistan’s GDP was around 7%. There were severe punishments for retailers if they were selling substandard products, dams were initiated and almost productive work was done to satisfy the citizen of Pakistan.  During military rule the ruler has less peers, friends to please, therefore he can get work done. Same thing during Gen Zia’s era Pakistan made it’s for superior progress in economic growth as well.  Not just that we had the economic edge but brave and respectable foreign and security policies which made us proud.”

“The reason why military appears to be better because under no obligation he has to please anyone, he picks and appoints the Cabinet without seeking any ones approval or blessing.  The other reason is that a dictator is less experienced to run the day to day operations of the country therefore he picks the well-educated and experienced people to work with him.  On the contrary an elected ruler spends his entire era try to please his party and the members who helped him elected as a leader so he is obligated to return favors and forgets the people who brought him in the office. Therefore he plays fewer roles in progress of the country but more try to benefit him and the other members.  I think now people do not care about democracy or military. They are tired of both systems.  They want security and progress in the country,” Mr Rashid added.

Talat states the reason why political parties make big hue and cry, “because they are not in the driver seat. This is the only way they will come to power and try to reap maximum benefits if they make the military ruler look bad.  These ego-centric democratic party officials have nothing to do with the public. We can see the past five years.  Peoples party did not do any remarkable thing for Pakistan and its citizens. Since the party controls the majority they can get any bill passed thru assembly which benefits them.  This is a shame that parties ignore the peoples who put them in the office but try to find ways to benefit themselves. We have perfect examples how the current government has milked millions of dollars and then its members transferred the funds in to their own accounts.”

“The political parties have obligations to their members therefore they do everything to please them some times at the cost of public interest. We the citizen comes later. The other big reason is that these parties have no clue how long they will survive therefore they try to get as much benefit as they can.  At the same time anyone who pays millions to get a party ticket, what do you think he will do to collect his money back, Talat Rashid concluded.

Concisely speaking that importance of education is inevitable if the nation is conscientious and aware that how power and politics remains at the helm of affair in the vadera system than this curse can only be eradicated and will bear fruits for generations to enjoy only if education is made a preference   At the same time, it also looks like that the country has made progress during military government instead of much loved democratic setup.  Indeed Pakistan would have been in better shape if we had devoted leaders who look for the interest of Pakistan and not their own.  However, blame game should also be eliminated and everyone must become part of the society building, be it a leader or a nation, until we get to this path, we will continue to decline as a nation and suffer as a country.

– To participate in this column or for comments and suggestions, you may reach the scribe via email at theamericannotebook@gmail.com & follow him on Twitter @AsifJamalNY

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