The remaking of Pakistan | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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The remaking of Pakistan

IDENTICALLY, Pakistan — the fifth leading population power, the first Muslim nuclear power, and one of the top ten military powers — is blessed with a unique geostrategic position in the world.

Today, Pakistan, like other developing states, is confronted with multifold challenges. We have to resurrect the state power by an objective reform appraisal.

There is an amicable national consensus that Pakistan needs an uplift in our national development based on national unity, institutional respect and revitalization, political and economic reorientation, through a visionary policymaking process.

Respect to the constitution: adhering to its constitutional norms, is a real test of a nation. In this context, it is a fundamental obligation that we must respect our constitution—the bloodline of a nation.

Given the current political scenario and the deteriorating economic conditions of the country, there is a need for a grand dialogue among political parties to reach a political settlement to a democratic institutionalization.

The guiding principle should be the Constitution of Pakistan, which demands all government institutions remain apolitical and impartial.

All state functionaries must act fairly and justly in accordance with the rule of law and constitution.

The third Constitution of Pakistan — unanimously supported by all political parties— provides for parliamentary democracy in the country.

It assures fundamental rights, provincial autonomy and local governance. In a parliamentary democracy, Parliament is the pivot of national unity in diversity.

Respect to the state institutions: Undeniably, the state institutions are the drivers of constitutions.

Therefore, three things are utterly important to have progressive state institutions: firstly, the trust of the citizens in them; secondly, exercising restraint from trespassing onto others’ domain, and finally, autonomy, i.e. , being able to work independently beyond any influence of the outside powers .

True, democracy is a process that flourishes with the support of the state institutions—the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary and the defence forces.

The challenge of an overall state security and its defence, including maintenance of our national sovereignty-cum- territorial integrity, comes within the domain of our defence forces or our security establishment.

We are proud and we must be proud of our defence forces that are ardently committed to safeguarding Pakistan from external and internal threats.

Make no mistake that any politically engineered narrative against our defence forces is tantamount to destabilize Pakistan.

We, as a nation, should never compromise on the dignity of our defence forces. Thus, respect for them must be the core of national credo.

The role of good governance: Good governance is the harbinger of the state functioning. Similarly, an impartial, apolitical and transparent accountability is the raison d’etre of good governance.

Getting governance right, particularly in developing countries, requires aligning organizational reforms to local contexts, promoting robust monitoring and accountability systems to prevent corruption.

The rule of law is a gravitational force that binds all aspects of the state, the economy and society.

Each state function is defined by a set of rules that create governance arrangements. The accountability and monitoring mechanisms within the rule of law allow abuses to be identified and for reforms to take place in an organized and befitting manner.

The culture of nepotism and jobbery must be condemned and eradicated to the hilt. Promotion of democratic values: a true democracy could only be nourished by strengthening our political and economic institutions — some even deliberately so as to manipulate policies and outcome.

Moreover, “democracy is a continuous and time-consuming process and is not a product”. For the process to be successful, political leaders must adhere to the democratic norms while strengthening parliament and parliamentary committees via viable legislation.

In a democratic culture, there is much space given to the difference of opinion—that is not in practice in Pakistan.

And above all, the ongoing culture of character assassination accompanied by hate and animosity must be condemned.

All the while we must discourage the negative trend of centrifugal or reactionary populism which is lethal to our national unity, political stability and institutional harmony.

Reorientation of economic policies: Needless to say, the IMF program is essential to unlocking assistance from other bilateral and multilateral partners and staving off a balance of payments crisis.

As a result, the coalition led by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) has finally started raising energy prices.

But this badly affects the poor man’s life in Pakistan, There is a need that the Government must devise a workable strategy to address this challenge.

Understandably, the current Government has called for the adoption of a Charter of Economy— a national consensus on economic reform.

Though this idea is logically sound, it requires a comprehensive review. Nonetheless, it is equally important for Pakistan’s current federal and provincial governments to introduce essential reforms — in the agriculture, energy and local government sectors — that are key to enhance political and economic stability and long-term growth prospects.

CPEC can be a pivotal force of transforming Pakistan into the league of emerging markets, not only in the region but also beyond it.

We need to address the challenges of a low GDP growth and the balance of payments. We must leverage younger population more effectively through social and human resource investment.

Role of national integration: National Integration and prosperity of any country is not possible without national unity and cohesion.

The Pakistani nation represents a tapestry of ‘cultural unity in diversity ‘as it comprises different areas and the people of different races.

They speak different languages like Punjabi, Sindhi, Pushto and Balochi but Islam is the common religion among them.

It is the base of national brotherhood and integration. Urdu as a medium is a great source of national interaction and integration.

By no means, federal policies should promote insecurity in small provinces. Moreover, holding a free, fair and transparent election is the paramount responsibility of a political government.

It is unfortunate that the deprived people do not get justice while the virus of polarization between our small and large provinces is badly hurting our national unity.

However, strengthening national institutions, increasing literacy rate, providing equal health facilities and development in all regions and promotion of democratic values through revitalization of interprovincial harmony are the underlying challenges vis-à-vis our national integration.

In his farewell address (November 23rd), General (R) Qamar Javed Bajwa rightly emphasized the need for national integration. We, as a nation, must be committed to the ideology — Pakistan first.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law. He deals with the strategic and nuclear issues.