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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Internment of the former interior minister

Despite tall claims of reforms, not much has changed. In fact, there has been an unprecedented decline in the state apparatus since July 1977 after the civilian rule was toppled by the third usurper, writes Dr. Farid A. Malik, ex-Chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation.

The most recent ex-Interior Minister is currently facing “draconian and sub-human” internment at the hands of the same state apparatus that was once under him. It reminds one of the famous Biblical proverb “physician heal thyself.” Unfortunately, in the land of the pure the doctors are unable to control the disease that ails the nation. Erasing colonialism has never been easy for colonialized nations. The people and their leaders continue to be held hostage to these exploitative mechanisms left behind by the colonialists.

After getting rid of the “Crown” the Americans scrapped everything British, there was a total disconnect from the past. Instead of driving on the left like their foreign masters, they chose the right. Laws and administrative mechanisms were rebuilt to serve not to rule. In the UK, the land belonged to the King, while in the USA the ownership was transferred to the people.

Read more: Do you want a country or not? -Dr. Farid A Malik

Any citizen was allowed to claim one square mile of unattached state land under the “Law of Homestead”. The right to bear arms was also recognized, but no Arms Licenses were issued. The unhindered right to travel was also accepted as a right of the citizen. Till today no exit stamp is needed to leave the country, only an airline ticket is required. It was real freedom. Patrick Henry said; “Give me freedom or give me death.” His words are inscribed on the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island which welcomed those who sailed for freedom braving the rough sails of the Atlantic Ocean.

When the public was served

Lalu Prasad Yadav was the Minister of Railways in India. He had no formal education yet he was able to turn around the Indian Railways. Relief to the public was his approach. In every case that was sent to him, justification was required to include public welfare. If fare increase or pay raises were asked for he demanded additional facilitation for the travellers. Quality Management demands customer satisfaction. For any organization to exist and flourish it must identify and then serve its customers. Yadav introduced customer focus and turned around the massive railway network of the country into a formidable service.

President Bill Clinton of the USA on his visit to Israel for peace negotiations desired to land in the common city of Jerusalem instead of Tel Aviv the capital of the Jewish state. His head of security advised him otherwise. Clinton held his ground, and he issued clear orders for the preparation of sound plans for his safety in case of inability to do so, a change of the security team was ordered. The President landed and returned safely as required by him, not his subordinates.

In the decade of the seventies when Pakistan was under civilian rule, the Police force in Punjab and KPK (NWFP then) decided to go on strike. The two young governors (Khar and Sherpao) held their ground. A 24-hour ultimatum was served to the strikers, either to return to work or face dismissal. The entire force was back in no time.

Read more: Who dreams of Purana Pakistan? -Dr Farid A Malik

The right to travel was recognized during this period. Major reforms were introduced in the Passport Directorate. A manual National Identity Card scheme was introduced for identification on the basis of which Passports were issued to the applicants. Pakistanis left in droves and today are the major source of foreign exchange remittances to their motherland.

In 1976, I applied for my first passport as I wanted to proceed abroad for higher education. The entire process was completed through the mail. After 15 days I received an intimation to collect my document. The legendary Khan Qayyum Khan was then the Interior Minister. He personally supervised the implementation of the new policy. Those who came in the way were removed. Solid relief was delivered to the public.

State apparatus in decline

In our case, the proverb should be “Minister heal thyself”. Every ministry should be tasked to develop SOPs to provide relief to the public. Those who come in the way should bite the dust. All colonial-era anti-people laws should be scrapped. Arrest without warrants should become a punishable offence. The Police force is beyond redemption, it needs to be raised again, especially in Punjab.

My friend from Rawalpindi Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has been a federal minister for a record 16 times. Currently, he is behind bars while his Lal Haveli has been sealed by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB). He is certainly in a good position to suggest reforms in each one of these ministries that he has headed in the past. To give him some credit as Minister of Railways he did work hard for the much-needed ML-1 project under CPEC which has since been installed.

Read more: Sheikh Rashid challenges order to vacate Lal Haveli

My late father Nazir Ahmed Malik was a worker of the Pakistan Movement. Till his last breath, he went down fighting for freedom which he considered incomplete even after the so-called independence in August 1947. Pakistan is at a crossroads again after 75 years of its existence. The colonial system that we inherited was designed to rule not to serve. The evilness and inertia of the set-up have always been underestimated by the freedom warriors of our times.

Despite tall claims of reforms, not much has changed. In fact, there has been an unprecedented decline in the state apparatus since July 1977 after civilian rule was toppled by the third usurper. There can be no compromises on freedom. Over two centuries ago clear lines were drawn by the Americans; “Liberty or Death” there is no middle ground. The first line in my father’s dos and do nots reads; “No compromises, do not fear confrontation”. Pakistanis heal thyself before the pandemic of slavery consumes our freedom and future.

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation; email: fmaliks@hotmail.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.