The irony is that public memory is short, the opposition parties asking for Imran’s head have during their respective terms ruined the economy by taking loans, burdening the government from the moment it came to power. When loans are taken for consumptive purposes and much of the state money goes into private pockets through corruption, an unmanageable amount of debt service cripples the state finances. Besides paying due installments on loans, this government has added to the loan burden. Among the major reasons is a failed tax system; the vast majority do not pay direct taxes. While the state is living on borrowed money, the rich are getting richer through corruption. The money buys good lawyers, but also many corrupt judges despite the check and balance in the system. The new appointees in the judiciary owe their loyalty to the persons/parties that brought them into power. Hence, they tend to favor them. Therefore, people denied British visa because of their corrupt practices are not only free to live, but continue doing their evil acts in Pakistan, manipulating government functionaries (Maybe NAB can make a list of those who have been given a house or a plot by this man?
The so-called democracy of Pakistan has been subverted to such an extent that the present political system is only a camouflage to serve the needs of the rich and corrupt. The fight against corruption started with Imran Khan’s ascent to power has shown little success. Dr Ishrat Hussain’s thoroughly developed plan to reorganize the bureaucracy has not been implemented due to the resistance in the bureaucracy of those who fear being relegated or asked to leave for not coming up to the standards required, especially in the higher echelons of the organization. Those citing the Constitution do so tongue-in-cheek, not bothering about the same Constitution while furthering their own interests by misuse of power and looting of the state’s till.
Undoubtedly major mistakes have been made by the present government but blaming the government for everything regardless of their work is counter-productive. Especially dangerous are the attempts to subvert the functioning of the Armed Forces. If Pakistan as a state has survived, it is largely due to the men in uniform. For their part, they must not forget those who have deep-rooted commercial and other “friendly” ties with India and would turn the Armed Forces into a Praetorian Guard at the beck and call of politicians, as is most of the police.
Are our khakis dying in remote far-off mountains so that people can have fake accounts and indulge in massive money-laundering while buying prime real-estate around Hyde Park in London? All their sacrifices while countering terrorism will go to waste. Incidentally, which political party’s leaders do not have similar properties in London? This has been done at the cost of Pakistan and while our Armed Forces are capable of defending the country, our future is being held hostage by a handful whose greed is visible in their assets.
As a country and as a society, Pakistan today is at a crossroads. Do we want to be drawn back into the morass of the old feudal land-owning political elites with the well-greased system of power through corruption; or do we want to proceed on the path towards fighting corruption and poverty so that our society can progress? The previous three and a half years have shown that this is close to impossible by means of our impaired democracy – a system that is anyway ill-suited to our society where equality of man, the precondition for it, is absent, and everyone thinks that the same laws do not apply to them. The powers that be in Pakistan needs to make up their mind and decide which way to go. Unusual measures have to be taken to weather this storm, otherwise we might all drown in it.
While rising prices are a problem in all sectors of economy, it is the rise in the consumer goods prices that hurts primarily the middle class and the poor people. However, the well-crafted Ehsaas program has done a lot to lighten the burden of the poor, create new income opportunities for them and improve the situation of women. Keeping the consumer prices under control would have been the task of the district administration – a task that they failed to fulfil. No single person can rule single-handedly, one needs the support of the administration down the line at all levels. If the Army could send in teams, in the late 1990s, to stop power pilferage, why cannot similar teams, supported by magistrates, check consumer prices all over the country?
The other major problem is the choice of the right person for the right job. Imran Khan’s idea of making Usman Buzdar, a man hailing from a remote area with no experience in administration, the Chief Minister of the largest province of Pakistan, was an experiment that failed. The idea was to bring someone unconnected to the ruling families and mafias who could make a new start, undermining standing corrupt practices in economy and administration.
This was too much to ask from Buzdar; changing decades of corrupt practices was an impossible task even from someone competent. The administration, economy and service provision in Punjab have suffered and thus, Buzdar has to go; the survival of the PTI government cannot be hostage to his survival.
If the Army hierarchy is satisfied with what is going on in Sindh despite a good CM, who has to unfortunately toe the line of the corrupt, then we should go ahead and replace Imran.
Certainly Imran Khan has made mistakes; but he happens to be our only hope for the future. Will the good of Pakistan and the Armed Forces be served with the likes of Nawaz and/or Zardari or their proxies in power? If the answer to this question is yes from those who hold the interests of Pakistan dear to their heart, then only God can help us.
The writer is a defense and security analyst
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