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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Pakistan Politics: Race to the bottom

Sleepless should be the nights for rulers of Pakistan. The country is on the brink of political, social and economic collapse. Politics is polarized, society's morals have been buried and the economy is set to default. NUST Professor Dr Farah Naz reflects on the current situation of Pakistan as she imagines rebuilding the land of the pure.

Pakistan politics is adjusting downward with an accelerating pace and is setting an unprecedented history. The rapid changing politics is followed by a charged political atmosphere that entered the life and house of each Pakistani. Negativity, mistrust and deep political polarization that keeps deepening with each passing day seem to be the highest trending fashion of the season. But, what went wrong that made the society hostile and intolerant towards the current political setup where Pakistan is standing at the ‘make’ or ‘break’ scenario.

One of the major contributing factors is the way regime change happened was not liked by the general public. They have expressed their anger through participation in large gatherings/demonstrations. Secondly, it never happened in the history of Pakistan nor across the world where a convicted person frequently convenes official governmental level meetings outside Pakistan while the ruling Prime Minister acts as a minister.

Thirdly, 60 percent of the current government ministers are either on bail or have some criminal charges but are still sitting in the cabinet. Fourthly, the status of any state capital is considered holy when it comes to state decisions and policy-making processes but under the current government, the status of Islamabad is reduced to a mere administrative center while London has become the political capital of Pakistan.

The current Prime Minister along with his cabinet visit London to meet and seek guidance on political affairs from a person who has been convicted for crimes currently on bail for medical treatment purposes. What kind of messages are we trying to give to the general public across the world? Honestly, it serves as an ignition to the charged mob grievances.

Read more: Imran Khan’s exit: The day democracy died in Pakistan

Unfortunately, the state mechanism has come to a complete standstill where all institutions are silent spectators – watching anxiously the race to the bottom. At the moment the institutions are enjoying the decadence of the country and considered as if we are discussing some foreign country where decisions are taken in London about the life of Punjabi, Pakhtun, Sindhi, Balochi, Gilgiti and Kashmiri. How can decisions about all Pakistanis be taken in London where Islamabad still is the capital of Pakistan. The fact of the matter is every individual and institution will be affected by these crises and measures but how long can Pakistan sustain in this hostile environment?

The current government is stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. Where it tries to minimize subsidies the fragile economy is getting affected. If it goes to the IMF, the IMF conditions are lethal for the economy of Pakistan. Therefore, we cannot afford to have a cabinet and government in a place where it is unable to decide state affairs on time where each hour is critical. Also, the cabinet members have to travel to London to discuss state affairs that are costly both financially and timewise. Any sovereign state would love to keep its internal affairs limited to its capital territory so should Pakistan.

With all of the above, Pakistan is heading towards a humanitarian crisis without a hot conflict. If this is the actual planning then congratulations everything is per plan but if it is not considered or is neglected then the authorities have to take some bold steps. The institutions have to come forward and get hold of the polarized opinion across the country. But, unfortunately, this cannot be controlled by silencing opinions, social media crackdowns and putting pressure on public opinion not to post anything hostile to the institutions. Hence, a permanent solution is required to minimize the gap between polarized opinions and the political divide. That can only be possible if the public interest is giving importance to controlling the charged population.

The first step required is free, fair and transparent elections (if elections are manipulated the consequences will be severe), dissolution of the cabinet, placement of interim government and an interim budget until the new government is put in place. Reset Pakistan’s economy without reliance on the IMF program because Pakistan’s economy cannot sustain itself under the strict conditions and shadow of the IMF program. Reforms need to be introduced in the judicial system to administer speedy justice. According to Churchill if the courts are functional nothing can go wrong. Hence, in Pakistan, the roles of courts should be as desired.

Read more: Will Pakistan ever develop friendlier ties with US?

Overall, the state should be above all and should control the levels of prosecution and law enforcement. Where the law enforcement agencies should not wait/rely on FIR to act. But here the problem is we have to clean the system from ills first. Accountability and responsibility should be administered in every institution to address the abuse of power and misuse of authority.

The culture of corruption needs to be nipped in the bud otherwise Pakistan cannot come out of these crises. It’s time to get rid of mafias – as all these mafias have secured their future abroad while the general public’s only hope is Pakistan.

Maybe it is time to change the form of democratic government from parliamentary to presidential to introduce reforms and adjust existing laws to eliminate corruption, put the house in order and the institutions work as desired by the constitution of Pakistan.

But unfortunately none of the above is possible without the help and support of the masses. We have to redesign the curriculum and introduce a syllabus that can produce a resilient nation that cannot be bent on wrong practices. We have to work on the ethical standard of our people and generate educated plus moral characters where duties and responsibilities should be considered holy and spiritual. We have to produce good human beings who can easily differentiate between right and wrong decisions.

Read more: Does Pakistan really empower women?

If we think that is the job of institutions alone to fix our problem – we are absolutely wrong in our assessment. It begins at individual levels and reaches the institutional levels. The public should work on zero tolerance towards incompetence, and ill-gotten wealth, shaming Pakistan in the world for bizarre attitudes and sticking to the formula of the right man for the right job. Unfortunately, there is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of the masses but they have to act like cops, do fast, remain vigilant and fight back to get our country on the right track. Let’s contribute and build our country strong. Better now or never otherwise repent forever!

Dr. Farah Naz is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government and Public Policy at the National University of Sciences and Technology. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy