The filters of Pakistan have been contaminated with repeated measures of corruption, so a mere oil change is only a short-term fix. There is an institutional collapse that has to be addressed. The Prime Minister has repeatedly mentioned the Mafias that are in control. In utter frustration, the Punjab Assembly under the stewardship of the Speaker has passed a bill that gives sweeping powers to the legislators to bypass or even punish the bureaucracy.
I really do not understand how it will work. Who will handle the paperwork, and so on? In the past, the offices of the PM and CM exercised executive authority while the legislature formulated policies but even that system has become non-functional. The bureaucracy within the chamber controls all the bills, and private members are not allowed to vent their concerns. I have personally interacted with several members who seem powerless and helpless.
The game of power politics
Someone somewhere is trying to save the system or contaminating the fresh oil, which clearly points to filter change. The Sharif’s and Chaudhry’s have been ruling Punjab for the last 40 years. The PPP was denied control of the province despite its overall popularity under Benazir. First as Speaker and then Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi carries influence both in the assembly and the civil secretariat. With Shahbaz Sharif’s two continuous stints as CM, the influence of the PML(N) runs deep. Even the judiciary is full of their appointees.
The dismantling of the network of evil has not been attempted. Officers loyal to the fallen Emperor continue to hold important positions. The grandson of the first PM, Liaquat Ali Khan, appeared on television with his appeal to the Board of Revenue (BOR) to settle their property claims. He was kind enough to mention the plight of ordinary citizens.
Like most departments, the BOR is in a big mess. It is headed by a Senior Member (SMBR) who reports directly to the CM. The current head is a member of the PML(N) loyalist family of Tarrars. The officer was running the Governor’s House before assuming this position. I sought the help of the Governor in resolving my complaint who then forwarded the same to SMBR hoping for redressal but not a word. Reminders, telephone calls all remain unanswered. I then requested the worthy Governor to enact an ordinance to nail them. He told me that he can issue an ordinance only on the advice of the CM for which the starting point is the Law Department.
In order to facilitate the issue, I drafted a bill and met the Law Minister and Secretary who were kind enough to forward it to the SMBR for his comments, but again there was no response despite reminders. Then I personally met the SMBR, who clearly told me that such bills have no value. Still, I did not give up, I approached the Punjab Assembly for the presentation of the bill but again no action. Members seem to be helpless, in every session, I am told that the bill will be presented for discussion but it is not.
Old wine in new bottles
It is time to change the bottles to get rid of the prevalent intoxication. I remember clearly when the electables started to join Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, serious concerns were highlighted by the old guard but the Kaptaan insisted that they will have to follow the party policies. So the first to come under attack were the Think Tanks where policies were being formulated.
Recently the unified primary curriculum has been implemented. The first policy draft was prepared by the Islamabad Think Tank, followed by Lahore and then finally Karachi. Shafqat Mahmood as the Federal Education Minister very skillfully obtained consensus from the provinces before implementation. Several other policy frameworks were prepared which never saw the light of day mainly because of the electables who managed to surround the PM. The fresh oil that the party introduced has been subjected to these old and dirty filters, impeding its effect.
The mafias contaminating our system
The ‘Mafias’ reside in these filters to contaminate the fresh oil intake. Despite honesty, integrity and hard work the impact has not been felt at the ground level as the dirty filters are in place. Every department that I had the chance of running, I had to go after these entrenched evil forces. In Project Management, focus on ‘stakeholders’ is emphasized but recently the group has been divided into both positive and negative, those who are to benefit and those who end up losing control.
It took a while to understand the ‘Negative Stakeholders’. Unfortunately, the electables fall into this category. When oil is being drained they hide in the folds of the filters to re-emerge in the fresh environment with new promises that are never met. The next election in 2023 should be focused on filters and not just oil change otherwise it would be business as usual, another futile exercise and waste of resources. The engine of ‘Naya Pakistan’ must be started with new filters and fresh virgin oil.
Dr. Farid A. Malik is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. The article has been republished 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.