THE AMERICAN NOTEBOOK
By Asif Jamal
There is much hue and cry about poor functioning of the present government, collapsing economy, escalated law and order situation, corruption to the limit, worst foreign policy, spiraled joblessness and continuous decline in education system etc. etc. Observing the gravity of situation, all those not in the power raised a common slogan of change â€“ the face, the system, the functioning, the policy, the strategy, a complete change in Pakistan. At least, for the first time, all political parties, of course, minus the ruling party, were found on one platform, that is â€˜changeâ€™.
There are only five ways to really bring about a change in the trouble-land and they are, democracy; revolution; coup dâ€™Ã©tat and natural catastrophe.
Democratic way change is obtained through free and fair elections where people elect their favorite representatives based upon their profile, service history, honesty, integrity and willingness to work selflessly and dedicatedly. This is where people exercise their rights to vote as per their free will, without any pressure or obligation. The second type is revolution, and that happens when people are fed-up with the present government for a variety of reasons such as the governmentâ€™s incompetency, incapability, corruption, augmented joblessness, escalating lawlessness, price hike etc, in some situation religious sentiments are also a cause. Thirdly, martial law – to save the country from anarchy and civil war, army takes over the control through force until the nation is ready for the next change. Lastly, through the act of God, if in case, natural calamity hits the area or if the leadership strikes some unfortunate episodes due to ailment, accident or so but this is very unlikely and changes through this reasons are in fact, seldom.
However, such is not the case when we talk about democratic setup in Pakistan. Seems like word democracy is now merely restricted to the books as it is gradually losing the sanctity and its efficacy. The irony is when this ill-fated country is being govern by the uniform, the entire political setup and people rise against it and start talking about democracy but the moment, elected officials come to power, the entire country becomes a subject of nothing but a money making business. Well, thanks to mass media that corruption is no longer a case that can be a secret but the irony is, still those involve cannot be brought to justice. Might is right is still the case there in spite of formation of various accountability bureaus that appear more like the department merely functioning under influence.
History is the evident that anyone who had enjoyed the position of head of state, didnâ€™t retire for the next able leadership. In other words, the people didnâ€™t witness an amicable transformation of power. Rather, due to the highest level of corruption and failed foreign policy their government had been toppled down for a better leadership.
In a situation where respect and integrity are considered assets, being thrown out of the government is ruminated a disgrace, but unfortunately, not in the case of our politicians rather one becomes even more desperate to become the head of the state again and the quest and thirst of power doesnâ€™t end rather becomes endless or I should say, perpetual.
This analogy is not restricted to only the elected leaders but in fact, the military leaders as well who generally take over the control for 90 days that last for years and years. It is like a swamp, once you put your foot in it, you cannot come out or if I should say, one doesnâ€™t want to come out. The absolute power, the salute, the authority, the control, the protocol and vvip culture is for sure too mesmerizing. Back in the days only political leaders were considered power-mongers but now for the first time it is seen that even ex-military leader who have ruled for over for good nine long years, want to take the control back. Well this time it could be a bit different, taking over reign without uniform is as complicated and difficult as it may sound.
Pakistan is a kind of country where military has ruled over more than the elected democratic governments but to a certain degree, they had better control and less corruption under their rule versus the elected governments.
When there is a dictatorial government in place, all the political parties, be it small, medium or large, they all put their heads together to regain democracy in the country but after the democratic setup has been achieved, all other parties who remained unable to gain power forms an alliance to defame and bring the existing government down as opposed to working together as a team for the betterment of the country. So in this case, doesnâ€™t it seem that they are there for their own vested interest?
So the questions for the topic are; what type of government is really the nation need? If Pakistan has been unfortunate of finding virtuous leaders then does this mean that the nation is itself responsible for having its bad masters as rulers? Lastly, what is the medicine that can bring about a change, a good change in Pakistan?
As per the format, I have asked the above questions to the following two outstanding thought provoking individuals, letâ€™s see what they have to say:
Mr Saleem Rizvi, an attorney at laws by profession from New York, and a legal analyst, says: â€œNations are built on what its people has to offer. A nation is the reflection of the total character of its people. You canâ€™t build a strong nation with a weak people. Itâ€™s a long journey which requires clear vision, undivided attention, lots of discipline and back breaking hard work to reach higher grounds.â€
Mr Rizvi further ads: â€œOne of the objectives is to establish good governance and in order to have good governance, you need an educated civil society, organized civic and professional organizations, in addition to well-functioning public and private institutions. If a nation lacks all this, you need a group of highly motivated visionaries who can lay the foundation and get the ball rolling. The more people the shorter the journey. Otherwise, it might take very long to see the light at the end of the tunnel.â€
Mr. Kamal Zafar, a NY based community activist and an analyst, while commenting on the above questions, says: â€œWell, regardless of how worst the situation is in the country, elected government is one and only solution. The military rule is never a solution rather it brings other types of complications pertaining to the governance and prosperity. The country and the nation need a fair and just democratic setup, which cares about the people and not about themselves. I stress again that elected government is the solution to compete with powerful and developed countries. â€œ
â€œThe quick medicine is to introduce the caretaker government, consisting of all major political parties and in the interim, introduce such plans that can directly benefit the people and specially make institutions like NAB free from all influence so that they can play their role justly and bring about those who are responsible of stealing the national wealth. But at the same time, I have a firm believe that no change will occur overnight, itâ€™s a slow process, just like chemotherapy, which will cure the cancer eventually, but it will take time,â€ Mr Zafar ended.
In conclusion, literacy is one important factor that plays a crucial role in change, mainly because it creates awareness and I sort of agree with Kamal here that change will take time and itâ€™s a slow process, indeed. In this way, time is the medicine and direction is the medicine.
â€“ The scribe of this article is a New York based analyst working at ARY Digital Network as a senior executive. To participate in this column or for comments and suggestions, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org