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Strong weapons and good laws

Mansoor Akbar Kundi
NICCOLO Machiavelli (1469-1527) is regarded as one of the leading political thinkers on power politics and governance. He is regarded as the founder of modern political thought. His tiny widely read book ‘The Prince’ is one of the most controversial but recognized books on politics. It has been part of syllabus in universities where Political Science is taught. The book was primarily written as an collection of pieces of advice to the ruler Lorenzo de Medici, whose favor Machiavelli sought to secure by providing him good and effective tips how to make himself strong. No matter whatever the differences or opinion one might have about its contents, hardly one can ignore the genius of its universality. He advices Medici, “you need Good Laws and Strong Weapons to safeguard against internal and external threats.”
The advice has applicability since the Treaty of Westphalia 1648 which not only stopped the bloody 30-year war in Europe but highlighted the importance of the concept of the state sovereignty a nation-state is entitled and supposed to be honoured for better comity amongst nations. A strong defence had become a need for majority of them, nevertheless, those with good laws progressed and enjoyed stability and welfare. The modern international politics in which ultimate aim for nation-states is to “gain power, wealth and influence” is broadly divided into three kinds of states: 1st world, 2nd world and the 3rd world”. The structure of the first world comprising not more than 30 states in large rules the world by controlling its politics and economy. One can say that they are predominantly supported by good laws and strong weapons. The strong weapons comprise their defence capability at ground, air and sea. Not all, but some of them enjoy nuclear power status. But the good laws constitute democratic norms, principles and ethos supporting the welfare of people and system of distributive justice where the rule of law prevails over rich and poor equally.
Pakistan is a nation-state. It has got a strong and formidable defence structure with strong and professional defence forces. Its Army is professional and efficient with good reputation as far as UN or regional peace keeping tasks are concerned. It has overcome formidable difficulties in many parts of the world in UN missions. Its Air Force capability needs no appraisal as it is regarded and proved as one of top Air Forces. And so is its Navy tough with a limited sea water jurisdiction. Pakistan is geographically and demographically very rich. It has fortunately got a huge population in which according to UNESCO sources the youth force constitutes from 35 to 65%. Prosperity of a country is largely dependent on its youth. It has got four season weather which is not common in case of many developed and developing countries with availability of shores and sands. Nevertheless, it has lagged behind in achievement of a developed country largely due to the lack of good laws.
Good laws require social justice where irrespective of caste, creed and religion citizens enjoy social, economic and political privileges and perks at the hands of State. The role of education is eminent in the process of State development. Had those at the helms of affairs from beginning had adopted a free and universal school system where children no matter from whichever class could receive a unified brand of education, the paradigm of state development would have been different. But unfortunately it did not. In Pakistan from very beginning emerged a system of education which was based on the principles of branded and non-branded education. Branded were the schools where medium of instruction was in English with more qualified and better paid teachers. The fee structure in such schools, largely privately owned, was very high which children from only upper class could afford.
On the other hand, schools which were publically owned lacked necessary infra-structure and facilities to provide a quality education. The absolute majority of these schools were located in the far-flung rural areas where teachers were reluctant to serve. It also lacked necessary monitoring. Thus with passage of time and deterioration the larger number of them turned into ghost schools. The uneven balance of education in society disturbed equilibrium by producing a have and have-nots class of society which bred violence and frustration. The Madrassa system of which our rulers take dim view is the ultimately result of the bifurcated system of education.
The second major aspect of good laws is good governance based on the system of representation and accountability which Pakistan lacked from beginning. From the very beginning of our political history there emerged a class whose ascent to power was based on undemocratic and non-parliamentarian norms. It led to growing differences between East and West wing of the country with its final separation into an independent country at humiliation and human loses. The principle of good laws required in 1970 that powers were allotted to Awami League, but the military rulers ignored the fact. Tolerance of opposition and maintenance of parliamentary norms are good laws which democratic rulers are bound to follow. Our democratic leaders have continually violated it. Where it led to discontent there it bred corruption and nepotism for which we collectively suffer as a nation. Countries are secured by good laws and strong weapons.
— The writer is a former VC and currently Professor in Deptt of Politics & IR in IIUI.