A Search for Stability and Peace in Pakistan

    By: Dr Nasim Hasan 

     Currently a great fermentation of ideas is going on in Pakistan.  There are at least twelve daily television talk shows discussing every issue of national importance as compared to few weekly talk shows in the USA.  The issues are also discussed and debated on Internet forums, Urdu and English newspapers.

          Invariably the politicians from various parties end up fighting and blaming the past dictatorships and era of other parties.   However listening closely it seems that these people agree   on substantive issues while interrupting other people on minor ones.  Many times all guests are trying to get their word across while the anchor person is interjecting more questions.
          I believe the representatives of civil society, religious leaders, intellectuals and media should focus on few fundamental challenges that impact the lives of ordinary people.  Let all of them pull together and make efforts in a positive direction.  This joint effort will certainly result in improvement.  As times passes by the situation will improve.  If all well intentioned people keep on opposing one another on esoteric problems then every day new problems will emerge and efforts in multiple directions will not result any meaningful development.  I also believe there is a need to find and articulate the rational middle ground, educate the public and provide possible solutions.  In the following write- up I have focused on three major matters concerning Pakistan. 
          Control of Corruption
          This is major obstacle in the path of progress in Pakistan that is common in all third world countries.  The politicians from all parties agree on various TV channels that there is a huge corruption problem.  However in every debate the opposition party blames the party in power while the ruling party points towards the mess created by the past dictatorships.  There is an unending list of corruption in bureaucracy, expensive rental power units, sugar shortages and Hajj in 2010.
          After a few weeks new scandals comes up and the debate continues.  The corruption cannot be eliminated in few months or even years.  This will require and independent judiciary and an honest tax collection system.  Nothing can be accomplished without equitable tax and revenue collection system.  Once the state establishes a system where every citizen above a poverty line pays an income tax the conditions will start to improve.   Value added or sale tax places an undue burden on the poor masses.
          I strongly believe that no state can function properly without good revenue collection system.  The state cannot depend upon the generosity of rich countries.  All countries have their own national interests and cannot continue to provide grants, loans or assistance without any return on their investment.
          So it is the responsibility of mass media to start a campaign of education for all people about the need of a strong institution to collect revenue/taxes from all people and sources including customs and excise.
          Rule of Law
          No country can make progress without protection of life, property and personal honor under the rule of law.  The rule of law cannot be established if the country does not have resources to fund well trained police force and judicial system. So it is linked with eradication of corruption particularly in revenue collection system. Since the corruption is prevalent at all levels in Pakistani society it should be given a top priority. 
          In fact all taxpaying people should be given incentives or some extra privileges.    The people who pay high taxes should be given some legal powers such as honorary magistrate or other form of incentives that are recognized in Pakistan. Tax payers should be recognized in private and public forums.
          All corruption, environmental, terrorism, industrial and criminal problems should be properly addressed.  The priorities should be set in place for spending hard earned revenue.  The priorities may differ from state to state and even cities depending upon the urgent need of public.  The investors whether local or foreign will not invest their resources in any country where there is no rule of law.
          The basic criteria in law enforcement agencies should be the competence and honesty. The religious, ethnic, provincial and tribal ties are still very strong.  So the religious parties in particular should accept an honest and competent people regardless of his or her religious or political affiliation.
          Systems of Governance
           The western ideas of free market capitalism, free press and democracy are supposedly the essential ingredients of progress in modern World.  However no system works under bad governance. Democracy cannot function without institutional foundations and rule of law.
          The rise of China under a communist party for past thirty years contradicts this viewpoint.  During the same period, the US and Europe have developed huge budget deficits and national debts.  Many countries in Europe like Ireland and Greece are undergoing great upheaval and uncertain economic conditions.
          Again looking back in Pakistan, the era of Ayub Khan saw substantial economic and industrial progress although he is always condemned by writers and intellectuals as root cause of Pakistan decline.  The difference between rule of Ayub Khan and current democracy is the functioning institutions and systems of governance. 
          Pakistan has to develop systems relevant to the culture, traditions and religion.  These systems can be National Accountability, Independent Election Commission, and Planning for critical issues such as Flood Control and Water Resources.  All parties should agree on certain systems and provide periodic updating.
          The current government and its leadership were elected and run a coalition government at the center and the states.  Common people get disillusioned with corrupt feudal democracy where incompetent cronies are installed in various public sector companies and get away with everything.  Strong institutions to check the politicians and the state are required.  Otherwise even Kingdoms are better for common people than corrupt democracy where the politicians in power loot the country and stash the wealth away in foreign countries.
          Every nation has to develop its own model for progress and prosperity.  This model has to emerge from grass roots and must include the cultural, environmental and geographical considerations.  It is about time that Pakistani intelligentsia discusses this issue and communicates that model to the general public.  Pakistan can look at India, Turkey, Iran, Malaysia, China and South Korea for guidance.
          Conclusion
          Currently I do not see any consensus among the major players.  Politicians in power defy judiciary.  The opposition parties like to share power but criticize the government policies at the same time.  Religious parties hark back to the era of khulfa-i- Rashdeen.
          News media focuses on problems that keep on changing on a daily basis.  However most of the issues emerge from corruption, incompetence and lack of strong institutions.  Liberal, conservative, religious, ethnic and regional divide dominates the talk shows.  It is about time people of all persuasions join hands together and select only few issues of national importance.  The issues can be national accountability, control of corruption, electricity generation, building dams for water and flood control, elimination of terrorism, equitable tax collection or any others.
          The system cannot be changed if all major players are pulling in ten directions chasing hundreds of problems.  Religious leaders can highlight the current problems and play a great role in the reformation of society. This is perfectly Islamic to call for honest governance. I am very optimistic about the young generation and their idealism.  The Supreme Court, independent news media and emerging civil society are showing a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.  I have high hopes for a peaceful and stable Pakistan.  

    (The writer is a political commentator based in Delaware, USA).

    NOTE:This is a cross post.

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Comments

  • Tanvir Ahmed Siddiqui  On January 22, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Concerns of Dr. Nasim sb are realistic at the same time offering workable solutions for almost all ills prevailing. High time for all stake holders to let go that old trapeze and approach of Capitalizing on weaknesses and shortcomings of each other.

  • Faisal Malik  On January 22, 2011 at 9:10 am

    There are some very valid points in the article.

    in the present scenario, with next elections (if ever or not before) around two years, it becomes very important for everyone, especially media to gather round and try to tackle the problems one after another.

    no one can solve all the problems at once.

    we definitely need to prioritize things.

    i hope everyone chips in and plays their part.

  • Inam  On January 22, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Unfortunately prevalent corruption has seeped deep inside the roots of the nation and has eaten away the very foundation on which edifice of the state is standing.If there was any room left,present regime has destroyed that as well.How far we can go like this remains to be seen……………………………Inam Khan

  • Arif Rizvi  On January 22, 2011 at 10:22 am

    very well written.
    Arif rizvi

  • Archie Haase  On January 22, 2011 at 10:48 am

    The writer is talented, educated in global realities, and insightful, mostly amazing in regards to the insights on human nature, not just Pakistani.

    This article bypasses Pakistan and embraces the world. Good work. Public expressions always leaves an audience silenced. Not always because they do not understand, but because they understand too well, and are too stunned to make comment.

  • AM  On January 22, 2011 at 11:11 am

    To b able to achieve what you desire or recommend the rulers have to have some concious left in them. With compulsive corrupt and which happens to be in the genes of Zardari and his cronies I have little hope for a change.
    am

    • Bajwa  On January 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      I don’t think a didactic approach can work. It is an old issue quite common to young capitalists societies. To start off you have to instill discipline in the decision making by the Ministers , Secretaries and Chairmen of the Corporations.All decisions should be on the basis of a reasoned statement, and transparent.

      A.Bajwa

    • S U Turkman  On January 22, 2011 at 11:42 pm

      Its funny, Pakistanis have same kind of comments after they elect every leader.

  • Portugheis Alberto  On January 22, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Corruption has nothing to do with Zardari. It also has nothing to dowith the conscience or the genes of anybody. What is corrupted is the system by which the world is run, all approved by the United Nations.

    You can spend your life criticising and changing the Zardaris, Bushes, Obamas and every single President or Prime Minister in the world and nothing will change.

    I bet you that if YOU became the President of Pakistan or the United States of America, you would be acting – with your own personal style – just like all those you now criticise. If you try to get out of the mould and be “really” different, “really” try to make a change, for the betterment of your country, you will be assassinated or, if you are lucky, ousted from your position.

    US Presidents have killed around 4,000 young and not so young American soldiers, since 2003 till now. This is “WHY” they are (were) Presidents. Obama signed a 32 billion dollar contract for US weapon exports to Saudi Arabia; this is “WHY” he still is at the White House, never mind the final destination of much of that war material, that will be killing many and in various countries.

    For example, there are countries that have an embargo on weapon purchases but politicians put in place a “loophole” that allows, with great easiness, the sale of weapons to those “forbidden” countries. Very easy. “A” is not allowed to sell to “B”, but is allowed to sell to “C”. So, weapons go to C, who will arrange for the journey of those weapons to B.

    Equally in order to buy. “A” is not supposed to buy the weapons they want from “B”, because they have no diplomatic or commercial arrangements or whatever, but can buy from “C”. So, “A” pays “C”, “C” buys the weapons from “B and sends them to “A”.

    For example, before the last Israel/Lebanon war, USA was not allowed to sell weapons to Lebanon. So, they “officially” sold them to Syria and the USA Embassy in those two countries supervised the smooth transfer of weapons from Syria to Lebanon.

    Another example: Israel has no relations with Iraq, but Iraq wants to sell their oil and Israel needs oil. So, European oil dealers but the oil from Iraq, put it in Italian oil carriers and send it to Israel. Officially Israel is buying from Italy, not from Iraq. Good business for many !!!!

    The world is not in the state it is, by “accident”. I know we could change it for the better, for every single country and every single person in the world. This is why I insist on a “change of system”. If you are interested, I can tell you more about my ideas and proposals.

    Alberto

    • Bajwa  On January 22, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      Corruption in Pakistan is a natural result of too much discretion and authority enjoyed by those at the top.That gap has to be closed. All major decisions should be taken formally and on the basis of recorded arguments and decisions, just on the pattern of “summary to the cabinet”.There was time when a case summary was submitted to the Secretary as well as the Minister. That was the system when Ayub Khan had taken over.That was the British system.

      Additionally Pakistan need to sign international agreements which curtail possibilities of corruption through the practice of transparency and openness to criticism.Accountability Bureau was advised to sign the relevant agreement on corruption in business developed by OECD, but they decided to sign the UN Convention which is regarded as toothless, by the experts.

      A.Bajwa

      • Portugheis Alberto  On January 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm

        I’m afraid I disagree with you. Britain’s jails are well inhabited by corrupt (some very famous) politicians. In fact, right now, former Prime Minister Tony Blair is been grilled again, in the hope of finally catching this professional liar and corrupted politicians, who sent Britain to her financial ruin, killed thousand of people abroad and several hundred British soldiers, whilst he becoming a multi-millionaire.

        With the proceeds from his criminal activities he bought 12 properties, 2 of them for around 4 million British pounds each.

        Please, if you wish to help Pakistan, don’t go on about “signing international agreements which curtail possibilities of corruption”, the “practice of transparency and openness to criticism”, etc. So many countries in the world have signed those agreements, have transparency laws, yet they are riddled with corruption.

        Politicians know that their life in Government can finish any time, (the case of Tony Blair, who had to resign before ending his term is just one example), so they think of their time in Government as “my opportunity to become very rich” and think “I must do it as quick as possible, before by term comes to an end or I’m ousted”

      • Sadarrudin Hussain  On January 22, 2011 at 5:27 pm

        INCREASING CRIMES AND NEED FOR CHANGE IN LEGAL SYSTEM:
        There is too much talk about corruption and increase in crimes in Pakistan but no concrete suggestions are made to put our country on the right track free from sins and evils, terrorism, suicide bombings, target killings, robberies, murders, kidnapping, KaraoKari, Wani system, sectarian killings, Maslaki differences, religious exploitation, religious parties and groupings, etc. The fact is that the existing Anglo Saxon System of Police and Judiciary have totally failed to punish the evil doers and culprits as this system does not suit the Muslims. There is lot of paper work. The police arrests the criminals but the advoctes get them released on bails followed by stay orders, adjournments and manipulation of cases. Falsehood prevails. Therefore there is a need for Shurta Type Police System and Summary Courts like Qazi Courts to punish the criminals immediately. A new, short and severe Penal Code is needed with less paper work.
        Unless we change the police and legal system which is against Islam and protects the criminals from early and severe punishments and do away with the costly advocate businesses to protect the big criminals through all underhand tactics and manipulations, the situation will never improve. All such big cases of Haj Scandal, NIC Fraud, NLC Fraud, embezzlements, corruption, deliberate default of big loans and writing them off etc. will continue with no result. Enquiries also prove fruitless and they are filed after bribery payments. If we can not change the police and legal system, we should better legalise corruption and commission on small scale percentage to prevent big embezzlements.

      • Sadarrudin Hussain  On January 24, 2011 at 1:25 am

        The article by Dr. Nasim Hasan is good and thought provoking. The problem of increasing crimes and corruption in Pakistan can not be tackled by the exisitng failed Anglo Saxon laws, police and judicial systems due to falsehood and manipulations. The big criminals get bails and adjournements of their cases by the our high-cost and big advocates who are expert in manipulation of cases rather than honestly get the criminals punished. Hence we need a Shurta type police and Qazi type Summary Court system along with new and hard punishing laws to criminals to serve as deterent.
        Syed Sadruddin Hussain

    • S U Turkman  On January 22, 2011 at 11:44 pm

      It doesn’t matter, what is being discussed, this man has to pull in Arms Sellers, USA etc in everything. I guess, he has nothing else to say anymore. He just keeps repeating this like a Tape Recorder.

  • Archie Haase  On January 22, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Alberto before any nation can change something they need to talk about what needs to be changed. You are right Obama, Bush, or whoever attacking them individually changes nothing. You are correct it is the system. We all know the system running our global world is malfunctioning! Pakistan first needs to dialogue about what is malfunctioning first. Without dialogue (sometimes angry) people remain ignorant.

    • S U Turkman  On January 22, 2011 at 11:47 pm

      Oh yeah, yeah. Whole world is not being run right so, its okay to run Pakistan this way and remain corrupt, violate Traffic Laws, Lie, cheat, offer Bribes, extort Bribes etc. Great idea …!

      • Archie Haase  On January 23, 2011 at 10:45 am

        Never been any any nation in the world without some problems. I think I have been in about 68 in my life. For Instance western Europe North American meaning Canada and the US, Japan Australia and New New Zealand. All these are basically free of bribes.

        Pakistan is not the only nation suffering from these problems. As for the US and Europe and China. They are in the business of doing business in these corrupt countries. For them it is much easier to do business with a corrupt country then one that is not. They can buy thing cheaper, and pay off local politicians because they are affordable.

  • Rabia  On January 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Excellent read – thanks

    Regs rabia

  • siddiquimy  On January 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    We all are concerned about the state of our nation but we all, some highly educated; some intellectuals and some with missionary zeal to set things right, do not see the reality on the ground.
    Firstly, we are just over 60 years old which is too early in the life of any nation…jut read the History of the United States; it did not happen over night; they had to go thro a bloody civil war despite a fairly educated elite to lead them
    Secondly, Present Pakistan is yet not a one homogenous nation; we are a group of feudal states and are still feudal. We have yet not an urban society; literacy is very low; rule of Law is only for the elite; majority of women ( nearly 50% or more ) have no share in nation building
    Thirdly, from day one we had no state infra structure; we had small and inexperienced civil service and hardly any educational system. Pakistan of 1947 had only TWO universities ( Punjab and Dacca ) there was no economist and hardly any politician with national standing !!!! East Pakistan had some of these attributes hence they could not subsit with W Pakistan and seperated and now notice their progress ?
    Lack of leadership caused us to be sneered into the USA Orbit for their own global designs( one should not fault them; they did what suited them ) and since then we have
    been manipulated by them; Our education was destroyed and demolished. Today our youth are in a wilderness; trying to ape the west they have become orphans of both the worlds ?? We have no education system worth mentioning and we have lost our cultural and civilisational values and moorings; as a nation we have no moral values . All this is causing tensions in the society and the reaction is Talibization!!!!!!!!

    yes. I too believe in our future. We have hard working and by nature decent people who want to be God fearing with firm belief in Islam. But presently they see darkness all round. In my middle age I had hopes in our children but now we have to wait for a new generation, yet to be born……………………….
    When Nawaz Sharif built the M1 I had high hopes that now a young sindhi ( Punjabi ) could drive to Lahore/Karachi and faisalabad/Haiderabad in a jiffy with ease and pleasure and vise versa and we will begin to see the inter action of peoples and birth of pakistani NATION but Alas…………………..
    God be with us and let us not lose hope

    • Archie Haase  On January 22, 2011 at 6:41 pm

      Siddiquimy you are correct the key to Pakistan future is not to lose hope. Take this from an American —– we too were a creation of the British empire. I like to think Americans have hope and belief in ourselves when all else seems to fall apart. I ask God for the same gift you ask for Pakistan.

    • S U Turkman  On January 22, 2011 at 11:55 pm

      Oh yeah, yeah. Pak Army had not started JehaaDi Groups to infiltrate MojahiDeen in to India and then in to Afghanistan. Our pious Army had not created Taliban in 1994 either. Satan had created them.
      Army’s sucking half to 3/4th of Pak Budget for decades did not cause less money spent on Education, Health, Human Services and Infrastructure either. Army’s of all countries do that.
      The only achievement of Nawaz Sharif was ordering to build Tanks because all the Breads come out of Tanks for poor of Pakistan and Tanks create a lot of jobs also, right?

      • Archie Haase  On January 23, 2011 at 11:02 am

        Turkman I am an American. I love my country. I know my country has been in the business of destabilizing nations. In the past they did this out of a habit of fighting communism. Now I am afraid they do this new world order concept for global corporate business backed up by Wall Street, using Ayn Rand’s, anti Marxist thinking, and fundamentalist Christian thoughts on profits as a role model. Today in America it is all about profits!!!!

        Pakistanis have to stop this infighting and come together fighting corruption to rule Pakistan as a united country. If you do not do this other will rule you from the outside. A house divided will fall.

  • Bajwa  On January 24, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Sadaruddin,
    Are you suggesting there is no corruption in Saudi Arabia or Iran. You must be kidding.

    A.B

  • H. A. Jafrey  On January 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Very good article and very good discussion. Very useful suggestions are being forwarded but I feel nothing will happen as long as Feudals are in control and nation is divided. Therefore first and foremost step towards the development is: (a) Elimination of Feudalistic society and (b) Get the people of Pakistan—— UNITED. They should start thinking as Pakistani not as Punjabi, Sindhi,Mohajir, Pathan and Baluchi; Sunni, Shia and so on and so on

    After achieving this aim, you may get good leadership from middle class, good education system and election/ selection on pure merits. Once capable, sincere and honest people are placed at their deserving jobs, the real development will take place.

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