A lot between the lip and the cup


Zaheer Bhatti
LOOKING back at the lacklustre performance of Pakistan’s leadership soon after departure of the Quaid-i-Azam, some of the initial lot he had pronounced as worthless coins, there is a lot 73 years down the lane presenting more of the same, which warrants dispassionate introspection. That the politicians in West Pakistan had precipitated the divide sensing they would never come to rule in a country with its eastern wing in majority, discriminated against them generating protest, which was capitalized by India exploiting and luring Sheikh Mujibur Rehman into the infamous Agartala Conspiracy and eventual cessation for which both the Military and Civilian leadership must share the blame. This is notwithstanding the Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission Report on the East Pakistan debacle, which never came to light but allowed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to become principal beneficiary of the truncated remains. Why might one ask, would the enemy not have made capital out of a tailor-made situation!
The Judiciary which has implicitly become a sacred cow in Pakistan, despite some landmark judgments with an equal number of infamous ones, is the next to blame after the politicians; having been totally apathetic to reforming its legal system in over 70 years of the country’s Independence, which it had inherited from the British Rule, and was geared to managing its colonial subjects rather than delivering justice to the common man which was the cardinal requirement in an Islamic Welfare State. Without naming names, it is individuals who have trampled systems and the Institutions have failed to react proactively. Far from pressing for reforms, as political opportunists lent support, the Judiciary not only legalized military rule in Pakistan but also legitimized their unconstitutional intervention which led to prolonged individual military adventurism.
Pakistan’s leadership has talked of corruption unendingly, but done practically nothing to cure the epidemic. Who does not know that if you bring automation into Revenue collection, database the country’s revenue record, banish the present Patwaari system and revamp Police which has become a source of crime rather than aiding the common man in preserving his life and honour, you would have more than half eliminated the menace of corruption. I happened to visit a Tehsildar Office for a small errand, where during the hours that I was made to endure for an unaccomplished mission, over 98% of the applicants who apparently had free access to the Officer, were anguished old men and women; several of them in tears complaining about their little land holding having either being usurped or claimed by locals, who make litigation a thriving business by exploiting and blackmailing the actual owners into bargaining and settling for a deal. This is only a miniscule of what happens across the country every day and moment.
The other half of the citizen’s predicaments are hinged upon an appalling inept lower judiciary among which the honest are pressured into tailored decisions or discouraged to sit in judgment, while the rest mostly pliable ones follow the beaten track prolonging cases on purpose postponing proceedings on frivolous grounds rather than concluding them within a time frame. With countless individuals; elderly men and women in ‘pardah’ trekking for the Courts from far flung areas, there are an equal number who are unwilling to stake their life, honour and safety with the system which delivers nothing but frustration and hopelessness in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan where its political leadership has all the time to run each other down, but none to attend to the suffering of the masses.
One can only mourn the pontification of the finance Chief of the country which has already borrowed over 7.5 billion Dollars in two years, that in order to alleviate poverty Pakistan will have to borrow more, which is a recipe of complete disaster for a people already forced to buy eggs at Rs 160/- a dozen and Tomato and onion at RS 100/= per KG. The Government till date has no clue to address the primary issue of spiralling prices which alone will cause its downfall. Value-added productivity being the name of the game, despite enormous bounties of nature most of which remain untapped, taking the current billing of Pakistan as the world’s top destination for tourism with its veritable picturesque landscape, centuries old civilization and historical sites, had the present cash-starved Government only concentrated in building attractive tourist resorts all over the country, it would not only have generated enormous employment opportunities but earned precious foreign exchange and taken care of the country’s overdrafts besides reducing poverty.
Good governance which once upon a time was taken for granted, has become such an elusive commodity that it is being talked about so frequently suggesting the lack of it, as is the case with the Government claiming to be on the same page as its defence forces command, which should be evident rather than having to be reiterated. The country’s bureaucracy which in the initial decades happened to be the backbone of Administration; be it law and order or the country’s economic and development plans, has been so politicized and discredited that it has been made dysfunctional resulting in the Government machinery coming to a grinding halt and haplessly looking on, as various mafias like lands and properties, black marketing and profiteering, smuggling and hoarding were having a hey-day.
With the new International realities necessitating reshaping of the political landscape; the emerging camps and polarities replacing a unipolar world, in which Pakistan in view of its strategic location increasingly occupies a pivotal position, unity of command not just within its defence forces but among the country’s rank and file and it was of paramount importance to rally together for the national causes and shunning short-sighted petty political point-scoring, in order to frustrate the enemy which was striving to destroy the obtaining equation; China-Pakistan Economic Corridor hurting Pakistan’s detractors so much that all their state and social media sleuths are obsessed with it 24/7 as evidenced by the current wave.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.

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