Guest blog by Ahmed Nadeem
Political and administrative blunders being committed by our saviors on daily basis are clear signs of death of the Feb 18 mandate. Bad luck of our leaders – Media picks each of such blunders and passes to public. The shady explanations, fake excuses and rhetoric of leaders which follow to justify governance become an entertainment rather then satisfying the public. Blame goes to media – a ready scapegoat. The day Sarah Palin said that she is an expert in international relations as she can see Russia from her hometown; her dream to become Vice President was over. Ask our leaders and they will tell you it was fault of Tina Fay, who did the prank on Palin. Blames also goes to establishment and non-democratic forces. No mention of own blunders and endless hunger for power. This is not their stupidity alone. Our leaders have no idea of the times and the world in which they are living.
Zardari has been out of touch with people for last 10 years. He has no idea what Pakistan he is living in today, so are the politicians, judges and bureaucrats. None of them is connected with people. None of them gets public feed back about their actions, decisions and repute. This isolation leads them to make unpopular decisions and ultimately becoming civilian dictators. These decisions cause distrust and frustration in public. Politician in rest of the world runs their blogs and keeps connected with their constituents and public through face book or online forums, emails and text messaging. By doing so – they get public feed back and gauge public mood to form future policies. This results in popular decisions and good governance. None of parties or leaders in Pakistan affords to be open to criticism or public access because of their past baggage and morals.
Anti democratic forces, corrupt and incompetent politician, puppet judges and foreign influenced establishment – have brought us to a stage where it is not possible to maintain status quo. Our political leadership has decisively showed their incapability of transforming with times. They are still living in past without realizing the change which took place in our society in past decade. If they still insist to maintain status quo – result might be Taliban or even a civil war. It is democracy or dictatorship – few privileged that actually are not representative of people are and has been ruling. Democracy in absence of institutions and accountability is itself a disaster. Strong and independent institution which can ensure transparency, accountability and good governance are inevitable to avoid a complete disaster. There is a also another serious issue of policy shift from being subservient to USA, as our very existence is opposed to US interests according to some popular conspiracy theories. Can our political leadership, which thrives on American support – guarantee the national interest as a priority?
Present political leadership has learned nothing from past experiences. They carry the legacy of corruption and personal vengeances. Can such leadership deliver good governance? No, Never Status quo is not going to work in present level of awareness and change introduced by information technology. What we witnessed in Sawat and FATA it is no more far from our homes and towns. If this non deliverance continues – we might end up in a civil war. Politician’s – majority of them possessing dual citizenship will pack their bags and fly to their ‘homelands’. Biggest looser will be public and so-called ‘establishment’. Will establishment opt for that? No. That makes today’s establishment a force which will like status quo to be replaced by independent intuitions which can deliver good governance. First time in our history establishment and general public are on same side of divide while politicians, present judiciary, feudalist and corrupt politio-religious gangs are on the other side.
Promises of national reconciliation, good governance and slogan of ‘democracy is best revenge’ on which nation voted on the Feb 18 have been turned opposite. Rather then finding a solution for deposed judges and sending lawyers back to courts – judiciary is being packed with political workers. Tricks and ordinances are being carved out to fight back the civil society. If this was not enough governor-rule followed by horse trading has took away any hope for good. Cricket – the only entertainment apart from defeating family planning is thing of past. Thanks to Mr. Malik and Suleman Taseer. Not a surprise though. Were not the two gentlemen responsible for security of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto? Good news in waiting – Dogar will head Election Commission after retirement. All doors are being shut for political rivals and every effort is being made to grab more power. Those who voted for ‘change’ are on receiving end. Enjoy the revenge of democracy.
Long March and Lawyers sit-in, might not that peaceful as in past, after Sharif brothers ouster from national politics. A small act of violence can push political workers of rival groups in to a repeat of 12th May. The last thing nation affords, given the economic and security challenges already threatening our existence. It seems things are not happening in isolation, some one is pushing a larger agenda to destabilize Pakistan. Can establishment guarantee that Taliban and foreign forces would not play a role to push their agenda’s in any such eventuality? Soon people who wanted to give politicians time, will calling ‘Khaki’ for rescue. Military is trying to repair the damage done by Musharraf to the institution; it might try to avoid direct intervention. But leaving 170 million populations on mercy of incompetent and corrupt family run political enterprises is not an option either. Establishment, at this stage might feels enough is enough.
Transformation is natural process and decides the role to be played by all stake holders in any society. That continuation of status quo and growing frustration in people coupled with present political and administrative circus, will bring country down as well endanger existence establishment itself. This changes the roles. Once, biggest supporter of status quo and foreign interests, today’s establishment will have to act as an anti-status quo and nationalist force. Not out of love of people – but for sake of their own existence. Thanks to unwillingness of politicians for a change – the notorious ‘Bangladesh Model’ seems to be inevitable. Lawyers and civil society movement expedited the process of change. The pre-condition of existence of institutions for democratic rule was not met when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. Charter of Democracy which was presented by politicians to nation as a promise of their ‘good’ behavior in future became the first causality of power politics.
Establishment still has an option to use its influence for restoration of Iftakhar Chaudhry. Thereby revoking infamous NRO followed by an interim national government composed of technocrats. This interim set up carries reforms in judiciary, election commission, re-draws political parties act, and examines the changes in constitution based on national interests, sets up permanent supervisory commissions for all key institutions. Once institutions are in place, an election can be held. This will ensure that institution do not get destroyed with change of political governments. While institutions work independently, national interests will be secure and long term polices in place. In presence of strong and independent institutions, nation would have plenty of time to give political system to refine itself without risking existence as a nation. Unwillingness of politicians to be answerable and accountable is pushing nation to the stage where we have to look towards non democratic forces to put a system in place before we go ahead with political experience. Is Bangladesh Model inevitable?