Mirza Shahnawaz Agha
Peeping in for predictions is a dirty job as it is based on conjunctures and a lot of unknown factors. We really do not and cannot know the inflictions that afflict nations from the outside and often times even from the within. The fact, however, is that there are external and internal forces both that are not accounted for in a national contingency plan is evident history. The recurrent invasions of the Indian sub-continent and its dismemberment followed by the breakup of Pakistan into two nation states are all factors of recorded history and the reasons attributed to the phenomenon wary one from the other. Strictly from the perspective of sociology all wearying reason aside, one can ascribe one common reason for the saga and that is based on ‘unity within’. Social and material justice establishing equity in turn achieves this unity within. Be it the Balkans or the Indian sub-continent or the Korean Peninsula, the Soviet Union the basic reason has been the same – Social and economic disparity within. The development and protection of classes in a society gives birth to this ailment and the ailment is indeed terminal. We cannot have the feudal, the army-man, the bureaucrat, cleric, the industrialist the like all privileged with laws that are not even-handed. A class culture is a plague as it spreads and corrupts all.
In the Pakistan set-up this is what has happened and is being retained, because all social classes are politicised profit centres. When sociologist, as an example, had to assess the US from the perspective of human civilization they assessed the country at the front end of material hi-tech, and therefore as the most civilized. This was so asserted because social and material justice was applicable across the board and the classes were non-existent before the law. Although the US government seems monolithic and could well be, the story of the population within is one of unity. So where do we go from here? Do we continue with the proliferation of social classes, a biased set of laws, captive political constituencies and an un-even playing field for entrepreneurship? Do we continue to worship some silly template of democracy or do we move first to strengthen the country at the ethos of material and social justice? It is a clarion call for all to hear see and understand that should the status quo be retained as the end all and be all of statecraft we have had it! This is proverbially not rocket science, it is writing on the wall.
Let us see first hand without peeping into the crystal ball the showbiz of each class. The legislative assemblies are tied to a set of people who have become owners of political constituencies and cannot be changed like hereditary monarchy. The bureaucrats in the visage of politicians have become their extension. The clerics have taken hold of areas of the population and the territory with it. The Armed Forces exercise an open general license to take over any land because ‘security concerns’ is a handy alibi. Then of course the railways the ports the mosques the public sector industries have all land to lease and trade with it at the expense of the public and in total denial of their respective core activity. They are all guilty of subsidizing their revenue stream by ignoring their core activity. This is a typical case of easy money revenue streams promoting captive economic territories in denial of labour or merit. This evil recipe for income without labour goes further and we see dependence on public debt internally, and for foreign exchange externally.
The concern is the public at large, which is really squeezed to the limit. They have been rendered ineffective to even assert themselves except through an act of worshipping personalities as messiahs that will bring about change. We are so suppressed by the colonial laws and adopted structures of State management that we cannot legally afford even resistance. One can see in the fragmented picture of the national population and territory that no such miracle can or will take place. It just cannot happen. We are roped in into a dragnet that will squeeze us further and force us to welcome external help and remedies just like in old times of rajas and jagirdars who were so vulnerable that the colonist and invaders could simply walk in and take over. The solution is most definitively the nationalization of all land in the country as a revenue-yielding source for running the government. The bureaucracy, the army, the judiciary and the vertical welfare of the people are a bill that land revenue must and has to support as that is the basic solution to the mother of all ills in Pakistan.
To convert Pakistan into a progressive State with the people truly in charge of their destiny the land must belong to the Federal Government and the people who pay to use it will automatically be patriotically loyal. The rest of the activity must bear the hallmark of corporate management including cities and the public sector enterprises. This is the only way they will reflect true success through research and competition in a leveled playing field. In my personal opinion if change is expected to happen through the type of democracy we are hell-bent on following and by the ignoble politicians that plague this country then dear countrymen we are barking up the wrong tree. New laws are a must and so is a new set of politicians. The Land Management Act and revised penal codes that are akin to our ideology and not based on some colonial philosophy are in tandem equally important. I rest my case.
— The writer is an entrepreneur and author based in Karachi.