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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Pakistan’s democracy & model of development: A bubble burst

In the early decades of its creation Pakistan was on strong development footing and the model of progress devised by the founding fathers worked great. Yet, the later formulated facade of progress broke and appeared a broken rule which dragged the country to shambles. Who is the most responsible? Non elected governments? Ill devised strategic development plans or it just "Bad Luck"?

Cameron Munter, the former United States Ambassador (210-2012) to Pakistan on a recent visit, talked about the past, present and future potential of the country. According to the Ambassador, the republic emerged as a model of development in the sixties. Several Asian countries including South Korea came to study the framework. Again, in the eighties, the People’s Republic of China took advantage of the international linkages and framework adopted by Pakistan.

In both the decades of sixties and eighties Pakistan was on solid foundations of growth but the basis of this advancement is neither understood nor discussed. It was the genuinely elected civilian government that built the framework for development.

The extensive framework of development built by the founding fathers included: Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC-1952), Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR-1953), Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC-1956), Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF-1951), the discovery of Sui Gas (12 TCF-1952), Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW-1957), purchase of Gwadar from Oman (September 1958), Warsak Dam (Started 1951), Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA-February 1958), Pakistan Institute of Management (PIM-1954), Karachi University (KU-1951), Peshawar University (PU-1950), the Industrial Research and Development Centre (1952 then PITAC 1962), Planning Commission (PC 1952) and the first Five-Year Plan (1955-1960).

Read more: Pakistan: Leaders must be elected, not imposed

With such an extensive framework only a vicious dictator could have denied the fruits of development to the nation. Instead of national, vested interests were pursued by the unelected government (1958-1969). Finally, the bubble of this uneven growth burst and the mighty Ayub empire collapsed despite all its propaganda of progress. His heir apparent Capt (R) Gohar Ayub Khan could not ascend to the throne.

The undemocratic, coercive system which denied basic rights and liberties leading to the concentration of wealth in a few hands was bound to collapse. It also laid the grounds for separation of the eastern wing of the country. Through their vision and honesty of purpose the founding fathers had laid the foundations for Pakistan to emerge as the first Asian Tiger had the dictatorship not come in the way.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) promised to dismantle the empires created by the dictator through a progressive methodology which he termed ‘Islamic Socialism’ (Musawat-e-Muhammadi). In the eastern wing Mujib-ur-Rehman wanted autonomy based on his famous six points.

For the two golden decades (sixties and eighties) the framework was developed by the genuinely elected representatives of the people

The elections in 1970 were free, fair and credible. When the people’s mandate was denied, civil war broke out in East Pakistan resulting in dismemberment of Quaid’s Pakistan. First, it was the party of the founder and then the country he had created through sweat and blood which fell apart; this was sad.

ZAB then picked up the pieces of what was left of the original Pakistan. In order to dismantle the Ayub empire, he nationalized industries and banks. While the policy of need-based basic industrialization worked well, the taken over industries could not be managed when they fell into bureaucratic control. The unanimous 1973 constitution was also formulated during this period.

The Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) was revived with a grand conference at Lahore. After the constituent assembly of the fifties, it was the ablest house ever. Each elected representative worked in the best interests of the people who had elected them. Nation-building was high on the agenda. Several new universities were started (for example Gomal University in DGK and Balochistan University in Quetta).

Read more: Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto: A Challenge to Status Quo

When Zia-ul-Haq, the third dictator toppled the elected government of ZAB on July 5, 1977, Pakistan was the undisputed leader of the Islamic Ummah. The usurper moved quickly to neutralize the gains of democracy. The 1985 partyless elections proved to be the last nail in the coffin.

The fabricated and corrupt leadership that emerged proved deadly for the democratic order. Both PML-N and PPP are a disgrace to politics. While the All-India Muslim League ably led by Jinnah created a new homeland for the Muslims of India, the leagues that followed destroyed it. PPP (Bhutto) rebuilt some of it but the period was shortened (1971-1977) by a coalition of undemocratic forces.

Only a truly elected political leadership, free of external influences including the menace of electables can lead the republic in the 21st century. For the two golden decades (sixties and eighties) the framework was developed by the genuinely elected representatives of the people. Politicians who are now demanding, ‘Vote Ki Izzat’ entered the corridors of power by trampling it.

Read more: Through Ebbs & Flows: The Political Journey of PTI & Its Current Challenges

In March this year, comrades gathered to bid farewell to the most honest and selfless politicians of our times, Dr Mubashir Hasan – may his soul rest in peace. There was unanimity amongst those who offered the Namaz-e-Janaza that the leadership elected in 1970 came forward to serve not to rule. Democracy is the way forward. Once the mess is cleaned up a free, fair and credible election can bring the nation back on track of development as was experienced in the two decades in the past, rightly pointed out by Ambassador Munter.

Dr. Farid A.Malik is the Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. (Fr. General Manager PITAC, Process Engineering Manager Intel Corporation Engineering and Management Consultant). An expert on mining and energy, currently working on developing clean Coal Technologies for Thar Deposit. He was a Shadow Minister PTI and Co-Ordinator of the PTI Think Tank where the framework of the Welfare State was developed. The article was first published in The Nation and has been republished here with the author’s permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.