| Welcome to Global Village Space

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Opinion: Tragedy of Pakistani State, Society & Democracy

Writer, a civil servant based in Quetta, offers a provocative dissection of the nexus that exists between bureaucracy and the political elite of Pakistan. And how this nexus pitched against civil society prevents the emergence of any genuine democratic polity in the country.

Society and government are the eerie interdependent variables in the state biomechanics. At times the government becomes a larger than life reality and takes precedence over the state while at times this equation is balanced through an actively vigilant society. Society functions in an organized manner which influences the government in both positive and negative manners through the institution of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that are supposed to guarantee the protection of citizenry rights in imparting them a proactive share in the decision making processes and in ensuring the pervasiveness of democratic values.

Sadly, in Pakistan, the governance superstructure, by design, hampers the evolution of any proactive civil society organizations, causative perhaps of the still actively lit colonial legacies and seditious traditions of state management. This has brought to closure the possibility of creating a citizenry aware of its conscious legal rights and duties on the one hand and on the other desolating the fertile opportunity of constructive feedback to the government planning and policies.

It is the power politics pattern which has painted dismal the hopes of any real democracy in the country. Our democracy is rooted in certain people, houses and families and has been used as an instrument of public beguiling

Thus the dissociation of the government, vaguely referred henceforth as the state, from the citizenry has become ever widened and the adroit intermediary of civil society organizations becoming the outmoded factor. Darwin had his “Missing Link” in his “Origin of Species” and we have ours in the origins of democracy with the adrift CSOs.

Democracy of Houses & families

There are two intimately collusive issues impeding the rise and succession of real-time civil society organizations in Pakistan. Firstly, it is the power politics pattern which has painted dismal the hopes of any real democracy in the country. Our democracy is rooted in certain people, houses and families and has been used as an instrument of public beguiling. Secondly, with such superstructure in pose above, the downward functioning governance structure has also colored itself with same hues of power and prowess begetting a distinct status quo of manipulative perpetuation.

Read more: Is a bloated bureaucracy responsible for Pakistan’s fiscal deficit?

The bureaucracy at the bottom layer supporting the political coveted junta above reinforces this system thus hijacking the decision making processes. And it leads to privatisation of the whole state management paraphernalia to distinctive clouts of reserved groups.

The citizenry hence is not near by any means in the state mechanism of decision making let alone the constructive and democratic feedback which these organizations could offer to the state apparatus. The governance pattern is thus formed up of the power politics and power ridden bureaucracy which would never agree on anything curtailing their decision making processes and bringing any educated and sensible reduction or rationalization in their wild power mechanics.

What follows next is the long term indoctrination in people that they are not literate enough to understand their issues and to find means and ways to resolving these. This deliberate demeaning in fact has produced a citizenry which has resulted into an idle liability on the government, least to speak of their creative pro-activism and resulting cultivability. The management processes of state administration are exceedingly and purposefully made super-confusing by these forces of status quo.

The civil society organizations are the restraining agents which check the decent use of power which without the fears of eavesdropping tends to go wild and corrupt absolutely

These efforts have belittled the general civic sense in the people and the siphoning out of citizens’ democratic fertility in their sphere of national lives. This has tarnished the civic life pattern creating unbridled socio-political dis-ownership of the state by the people. The greater distancing of the people from the government is the reason of rampant bad governance in the country. The constructive feedback from the citizens who are the eyes, ears and brains of the government is marred by willful limitations superposed by the forces of status quo and the feedback is projected as blind, deaf and nonsense.

Nexus between Civil Society Organisations & International Aid

Like the fickle and power ridden democracy of our country, our large number of so called CSOs with the meager exception of very few ones have shaken hands in the lucrative but dark business of international aid which in the words of Graham Hancock is ‘a group of rich and powerful bureaucracies that have hijacked our kindness’.

The activities mainly carried out by the so called CSOs revolve round the pivot of handful of aid distributed unevenly amongst them which in turn is coming out from the solemnly intended taxpayer’s pocket of the West. These so called CSOs have therefore dissipated from their essence so least could be expected of them in terms of positive socio-political utility in connecting the people with the government for ensuring good governance, rule of law and all those fairy tales of sweet democracy.

Read more: NAB law amended for Civil Servants to deliver: Imran Khan

The state as Greeks put it exists for the virtue of the people and the virtue lies in the state’s capacity, ability and willingness for doing the public good. Especially in all practiced democracies of the world, the systems are people inclusive and the decision making processes are duly partaken by them.

This curtails the government’s discretion, as government is power composed so this composition needs restrain. The civil society organizations are the restraining agents which check the decent use of power which without the fears of eavesdropping tends to go wild and corrupt absolutely.

The presence of a civil society in the government’s chamber of power limits the use of authority in a discretionary manner also providing the government the ability to make full use and take full advantage of the citizens’ common but priceless indigenous intellect rather than fixing the indigenous issues with some imported pearls of wisdom deceiving both of Time and of Space.

Read more: Politicization of Civil Services in Pakistan

Our Society has developed severe symptoms of stress and anxiety. And these are signalling similar disorientations to the equivalent variable of state which in turn is simultaneously cropping up the double jeopardies of social insensitivity and political insensibility.

The biggest challenge that withstands the CSOs network is the governance pattern of our country which is mainly casted by the fattened bureaucracy and the power ridden political elite who are the major stakeholders in the status quo who would never come to terms on sharing the power in the form of decision making processes with the common folk of the society. Both of these forces of the status quo have internalized the paranoid self-claim of being super geniuses and the jack of all trades forgetting they are simultaneously the master of none!

Muhammad Jahangir Kakar is a civil servant and socio-political analyst based in Quetta works for the government of Baluchistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.