Why continue going down the hill?
I remember, General Zia coming to an Envoys Conference which I attended as Ambassador to Egypt, and saying “Gentleman , our Rupee is higher than Indian Rupee, it is Rs One equal to Indian Rupee one point five. We are no longer “poor country”. Our per head income has crossed $ 400, India still is. We have crossed into the IMF criterion of low income countries. As against it today it is Pak Rs 2.20 equal one Ind.Rs, India is being described as up and coming “Super Power” in the region. I remember the days when $ was Rs 5.30 It is now Rs 86/ 87 to a dollar, every thing was available and cheap, Cost of living was the cheapest, now prices are going up and up and ordinary person is groaning for daily meals, There was a time when ours was a model for developing countries and as a columnist wrote in the Dawn some weeks ago, the World Bank was presenting Pakistan as a model for other developing countries. Now life is not safe even in big cities like Karachi we had excellent Law and Order in the country. I remember the day when one morning my wife told me when I was going on my duty to the Foreign Office, that she is going to the tribal area for shopping with two other Foreign Office wives, they will be back after shopping late in the evening. I remarked Are you in your senses!! You will be kidnapped. She said No, now ladies are going for shopping to Bara And they did return with lots of shopping in the evening . In fact she said that when she told the merchants that her mother was a Mohammedzai Dari speaking Afghan , he took the three ladies inside his house to meet his wife and family and they were entertained like guests . Today soldiers with guns fear to go where unaccompanied three ladies from Islamabad went alone for shopping. We were going up and up, economically and were respected as a country which was shinning. I was in Japan during Ayub Era from 1963 to 1966. We were a respected country, wooed.
Mind you, Pakistanis of today are far more educated, far more advanced in technology, far more capable than the days when we were superior in prosperity, common man much, much more politically conscious and yet the country is backward and miserable!! Why??
As an aside, I must say that yesterday I listened to a talk show on a private TV channel , The speaker was talking with confidence falsehood about Liaquat’s visit to US and the early rulers eating up the aid he claimed Americans gave ‘lots and lots of aid” for education and health and social welfare under the aid program which the military rulers eat up. Cock and bull. Obviously his “facts” were based on gossips. Aid upto late eighties was tied to “projects” approved at Paris Consortium, of donors. After late eighties, aid was also given for “Budget support” which meant for non-development projects. Request for giving aid for budget support was initially made by India . In Pakistan Budget Aid was misused for political purposes, not in India. The discussants were generalists who were making wrong statements with the air of experts.
Coming to etiology of the current malaise, when Pakistan is today far more advanced than it was in 60-80 period, educationally, technologically, talent-wise, people and the middle class want the country to be a prosperous and an advanced economy , what accounts for the contrast in capability and reality of Pakistan today.
With due modesty the reply is the failure of the “elected representatives” and “ political leadership”. We have the same system- in name not in substance- called Parliamentary Democracy as India but in practice we have no democracy but oligarchy of feudals With apologies the elections have returned the persons who are responsible for the backwardness of the country, the feudal lords with stone age social ideas and responsible for continuation of outdated ideas of their privileged status. In India they were eliminated right after independence- the feudals and the Royalty or the Princely States. Although our feudals were nowhere equal to Indian zamindars and talukadars of UP and Bihar, and Pakistani princely states nowhere as big or rich- Indians were almost kingdoms like Hyderabad, Bhopal, Mysore, Rajputana States, Cochin, Gwaliar, Rampur, etc . They were abolished with one stroke in India but not in Pakistan. In India their crowns, regalia’s, jewelleries, forts, palaces, lands, were taken over by Indian Government. Equality was established in society. Great class differences were abolished. Not in Pakistan. The highly unequal social system continued.
This affected elections, like in UK the nobles etc had their safe constituencies till abolished by Robert Peel in 1840 ( ? ) if I remember my history from High School days correctly. The social system is hostile to democracy. The majority of the elected from the country side consolidate the hold of their tormentors. In addition are the novo-rich of post Pakistan generations. Am I wrong that there is a great divide of Rural and Urban in Sind, in Punjab- and in Baluchistan the Sardari system is anti-democracy particularly a hindrance in election process.
This analysis cannot go in several aspects of the current political malaise of Pakistan in a short article but just to conclude this short presentation , the result of prevalence of wadera-mentality in “democracy” and national and provincial assemblies in Pakistan is that the Parliament is ineffective as a vehicle of change and harbinger of social justice. Now Prime Ministers and Ministers think they have unlimited powers and their rules are motivated to serve their personal interests- as they equate national interest as their own interest. They want to have unlimited powers. They are hostile to independent neutral administration and think it an insult to have a neutral bureaucracy, or experts civil servants. They must be subservient to their whim and interests of arrogance. So we have no neutral administration In democracy – a corps of neutral administrators and technical experts is a must as much as elected representative. I refer to a news item in the Dawn - Metro & North- 0f 7th Oct says “ Backdoor opened for favorites” that PM will be able to appoint officers in Grade 19 and above from the Market at his pleasure virtually. What a thing. Stuffing the government machinery with favorites and destroying professionalism which is a typical Wadera mentality. Honest bureaucrats, expert corps of professionals is resented by the wadera politicians in power.