News & Views
ADDRESSING a Full Court Reference held on the eve of retirement of Justice Amir Hani Muslim, Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Mian Saqib Nisar, has said that the goal of establishing a just society through elimination of corruption, nepotism and discrimination and strict adherence to the Constitution and law. He said: “Being aware of the importance of strengthening institutions, Justice Amir Hani was flag-bearer in struggle for elimination of corruption, nepotism and discrimination. On Saturday, a 23-page judgment issued in the suo motu case regarding illegal appointments in NAB, authored by Justice Amir Hani among other things stated: “Apparent objective was not to target petty criminals, but those who indulged in massive corruption or where there had been a major misuse or abuse of power.” Earlier, he has given landmark verdicts, which would be used as reference in future cases.
Earlier, Justice Amir Hani had authored a comprehensive judgment, wherein all out-of-turn promotions, deputations, absorptions and reappointments were declared as illegal in Sindh. He also declared that “no police personnel or civil servant is entitled to out-of-turn promotion on account of gallantry award or otherwise”. Anyhow, corruption and nepotism have been identified as the biggest hurdle to economic development. It is a matter of grave concern that corruption has deeply permeated in every strata of our society. Scandals regarding corruption, misappropriation, plundering of billions from banks and other federal, provincial and semi-government departments abound. Unfortunately, the corruption has deprived the national exchequer of its revenues, eroded the profitability of the state sector enterprises and destroyed the very fabric of society. It should be borne in mind, that political stability hinges on good governance, which means addressing the issues of accountability, transparency, participation, openness, rule of law and socio-economic justice.
If the government formulates sound economic policies and fruits of economic growth reach the masses, in particular the poor and vulnerable segments of the society, it would lead to solidarity among different sections of society. Thus good governance is seen as a key ingredient for sustainable development, alleviation of poverty and stability of the government. In 1990s, both major parties have been filing cases of corruption against each others’ leaders; however the period from 2008 to 2013 was worst period. Today, eyebrows are also being raised on the way privatisation of national assets is being planned, which according to some commentators is not transparent. Military, Judiciary and media have been raising this issue. Former CJP Anwar Zaheer Jamali, addressing a seminar on role of ombudsman in providing administrative justice in Sindh had identified reasons for dismal state of affairs.
He had said: “It is prime duty of the government to bring improvements in the socio-economic system and ensure that rights of citizens are protected, and there should not be any economic exploitation at any level. Misadministration and corruption was destroying the fabric of the society like a termite and people face hardship due to delay in dispensation of justice.” Certainly the time has come when the political hierarchies ruling at the centre and in provinces must give a penetrating look to their act. For, the causes they presently are championing so fervently, and the fracas they are waging so stridently are enthusing no one on the street. Issues of electoral reforms, constitutional reforms, civil and military relations and local bodies’ elections may be hogging heated controversies in political quarters, media studios, civil society offices, chattering classes and deluxe parlors.
But there is none talking of downtrodden and impoverished sections of society; none is even taking a passing notice of them. But there is uneasy calm and silence in the street. People in fact want jobs and reduction in the prices of essential items of daily use. If political hierarchies are any real, they should get alarmed for the street is likely to react over skyrocketing price rise, galloping unemployment, corruption and the crime wave. And it could surge into a tidal storm. This should make the political hierarchies sit up, for the people are angry not just with the political class; more alarmingly they are getting alienated with the very system. Not a real democracy though we are; whatever sham democracy we have, that too is losing the people’s trust rapidly. And this state of affairs is fraught with dangers.
They have to take serious notice of this public alienation and anger and set about earnestly to tackle the underlying causes of the public disgust and frustration effectively to the greater satisfaction of the mass of the people. They all need to understand that it is the kick on the stomach that hurts the most. The issues of bread and butter come to the masses uppermost; and everything else is just secondary. If the ruling hierarchies are any wise, they must for a change stand up firmly to go cracking on the runaway price rises and unemployment. Prices and jobs are serious matters that can be sorted out only with hard-boiled thinking, creative ideas, and well-considered administrative measures. As regards much touted forex reserves of $24 billion, these can be wiped out with a period of four years if present trend continues.
People are not interested in the foreign exchange reserves touching unprecedented highs, but want that prices of flour, pulses and other items of daily use be brought within the reach of common man. The question is what are the causes that have brought the country to the present pass? Unfortunately, right from 1950s our foreign policy has been susceptible to manipulation because of internal political and economic instability due to the flawed policies of successive irresponsible and callous governments. They had mortgaged our children’s future and short-changed our dignity by making compromises. It is an irrefragable fact that no nation can be independent and sovereign if it is economically dependent on others. It, therefore, follows that to formulate and pursue an independent foreign policy, a country has to have an independent economy and not a dependent economy run by loans, grants and handouts from international lenders and donors.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.