Mirza Shahnawaz Agha
IN my book ‘A Rendezvous with Destiny” 1994 I had sought a democratic model in consonance with our ideology as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The idea was to destroy the fragmentation of the Pakistani nation based on provincialism, parochialism, ethnicity and religion. This destruction would give birth to unity and the rule of law and bring about a society only based on merit. I stand by the thought even today as I see institutional affiliations have now become cults for individual economic gain. If I am a General in the army I can be a corporate leader, a diplomat, a public administrator the like. If I am a politician I can be above the law and squander public funds without accountability. If I am Judge I can be a politician and a broker of amnesty and if I am a Secretary then I can blackmail any of the others to line my pocket. In the final analysis it is we the people who carry the cross of this deformed structure and pay through our nose carrying this corpse on our shoulders without a burial ground in sight.
This situation has come about because we copied and adopted models for governance without any indigenous research on how to gel societies that have diverse cultures and ethnicity. We upheld the feudal structure of society handing out our people to scoundrels to be enslaved. We made wealth without the legitimate right to its ownership as the criteria to honour people and give them positions of public office. We negated merit and used political manipulation and criteria to promote the unabated plunder of our national wealth. We worshiped personalities that could use foreign powers and governments to subdue our independence and assertion as a geo-political validity. Generally we have remained boot-lickers subservient and individually corrupt due to the system in place. The outfall of the continued status quo has resulted in a brain drain and the flight of capital. A taxpayer wants service and that the governments in succession have failed entirely to deliver. They gave nothing to people and captive dragnet is intact to retain and keep the status quo perpetuated cine die.
Ultra democracy is one remote hope that one ought to consider because here we are dealing with the lives, property and loyalties of over two hundred million souls. The unity of these cults to rob must be broken and this seems as a good way to do it. The governing institutions need to be identified in finality first. The judiciary as a politically non-partisan institution must serve as a neutral umpire between the governors and the governed. The army must produce its’ own armaments of defence and must have a global out-reach. In addition it must recruit for compulsory training the entire nation for the contingency of wars. The people must pay for these essential services and they must never ever be allowed their own revenue streams from any form of enterprise/s. The Executive next must operate as regulators only on a basis of fiscal decentralization. Money for development must come from land revenue only and the local governments should use that with a strict audit regime. They absolutely have to be in sync with the best-known standards of material technology for population welfare. Finally the political parties must all be based on manifestos that can be advertised without personalities. They have to present implementation formulas as managers of an agreed development plan for the entire country that none can alter. People and their welfare must come first and rest does not matter.
In the developed world the freedom of enterprise and research carry these dreams forward and turn them into reality. Here our internal struggle to be the boss does not seem to cease and we the people are paying a price in untold human misery of mammoth proportions. Ultra democracy should deem to imply that the identified institutions should elect their own leadership so that the civil way to govern is finally in place. Modern governance is consensus based and that will come about when the politicians are not appointing judges and generals and vise versa. These institutions have to be constitutionally mandated for their jobs and interchangeability must become unacceptable. Towards the management of land and fiscal decentralization I have recurrently proposed that we need ‘municipal companies’ quoted on the stock exchanges and with essential standards to build and operate upon. This alone can revolutionize the management of the population and with industrial estates in place exempt from bureaucratic blackmail the country will regain it lost glory both as an economic engine and as a model for others to replicate. We need to fiscally empower the non-productive population just as much so that the industrial base can thrive and grow. Foreign policy again has to be in consonance with our Islamic ideology. If we need an economic commonwealth we have to give duty free preference to Islamic countries and visa free access into the country to brothers of our faith. Industrial revival needs a total tax-free incentive and imports in rupees should be the only way to sustain development. The right to patriotism is not reserved so Shoora is a fair injunction in Islam!
— The writer is an entrepreneur and author based in Karachi.