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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Why is there an institutional disorder in Pakistan? -Dr Farid A Malik

According to Dr. Farid A Malik, an Ex chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation, Pakistan faced severe institutional disorder after Zia's Referendum of December 1984. In the formative years of Pakistan, institution building was taken very seriously. The founding fathers worked very hard to make sure Pakistan has good governance.

After the dreadful Zia Referendum of December 1984, ‘Institutional Disorder’ (ID) was deliberately created. Mian Nawaz Sharif of Gawalmand played a key role together with the dictator in attacking civilian institutions. By inducting criminals into the Police it was converted into a ‘Rogue Force’ that moved from corruption to committing crimes. Muhammad Khan Junejo who managed to become the leader of the house and Prime Minister (PM) in a partyless parliament tried to serve.

Compared to the Sharifs, he was an upright and decent politician who wanted to desired to make a difference. He played a key role in getting rid of the Martial Law and wanted to move towards strengthening the parliament. It was the dismissal of his government that proved to be the beginning of the end for the third usurper. Unfortunately, the Sharifs sided with the establishment as their agenda was different. In the 1988 elections despite being the largest single party, Benazir Bhutto (BB) was denied the Chief Ministership (CM) of Punjab. While Nawaz Sharif (NS) was given a free hand to run the province, BB’s hands were tied at the center.

Read more: Remembering Nawabzada Nasrullah and Chaudhry Zahur Elahi

How former politicians contributed to the institutional building?

From the pivotal position of CM of the largest province of the federation, NS succeeded in first dislodging BB and then taking control of the country himself while leaving the province into the hands of his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif (SS). The brothers together went after institutions that came in their way of loot and plunder. Even vital sectors of human development like education and health were not spared. Institutional memory plays an important role in its functioning. Public records were destroyed which rendered them non-functional. Recruitments and promotions were carried out against merit.

Those who stood in the way were either sidetracked or pushed out. Mian Muhammad Sharif the founder of the ‘Sharif Dynasty’ believed in the power of money. According to his doctrine; “Every person has a price, pay and get the job done”. With his money-centric approach combined with political power, he was able to build an empire. First, it was the  ‘Ittefaq Brothers’, after entering the corridors of power they were left behind to form the  ‘Sharif Group’. The Sharif Medical City Complex and the Jatti Umra Estate are owned by this entity. Recently there has been a dispute of 127 Kanals of evacuee land which were allegedly acquired illegally. Stay has been granted against the recovery of this area by the Board of Revenue (BOR). The total area of the estate is around 175 Acres (1400 Kanals).

In the formative years of Pakistan, Institution Building was taken very seriously. The founding fathers worked very hard. There was a limited experience of running Railways. Tariffs were the domain of the Hindus who kept it a secret. The few Muslim officers sought help from the Pathan Watchmen to review the calculations at night. There were few engine drivers and mechanics, yet the trains were kept running. The Mughalpura workshop was the only technical facility in the country which provided the base for the development of the engineering industry.

Read more: What will be PTI’s agenda for second term? -Dr Farid A Malik

Conflict of interest is being blatantly ignored

Banking was totally dominated by non-Muslims who left after partition leaving the sector unmanned. Starting from ground zero, the republic was moving in the right direction. The first derailment took place in 1958 when civilian institutions came under attack but the founding generation weathered that storm. Had we barely recovered, from the debacle and the resultant break-up, the third usurper attacked?

This time the attack was more lethal. By the mid-eighties, most founders had retired. A new breed of officers took control who were driven more by loyalty than rules. SRO’s (Statutory Regulatory Orders) were issued for individual gains. Loans, plots, permits were doled out to party workers to buy their loyalty. In 1998 before freezing the foreign currency accounts, several insiders encashed their dollars. Till today their names have not been revealed. Then the individuals who had their loans written off have never been exposed.

Education has been in total disarray for decades and has been turned into a very lucrative business. Both main political parties have established their own educational institutions and so have the armed forces leaving the public sector universities in disarray. After the lawyer’s movement, the judiciary has not recovered.

Why there’s a need of rebuilding every institute?

A country in which vital sectors of education, health and justice have been ignored cannot develop. Institutions have to be rebuilt all over again but the task is much more gigantic now as there are no role models left in the arena and the institutional memory has also been erased for personal gains.

As a private citizen, I have to remind officers of the past laurels of their departments. On seeing the deplorable state of the record of the Settlement Department (BOR), I decided to write about their legendary record keeper ‘Mumtaz Bola’ who worked long hours to preserve the sanctity of his papers. Files, paperwork nothing moves without wheels. The age-old ‘Diary System’ has been abandoned. Letters are neither acknowledged nor replied to. Even office hours are not kept. Without functional institutions, no records, no chain of command, lack of monitoring/accountability, absence of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) no delivery is possible.

Read more: Analyzing the colonial style bureaucracy of Pakistan

This deliberately created disorder has to be replaced with the order, those responsible for this mess have to be weeded out before the water crosses the bridge. A thoroughly corrupt and disorderly system cannot self-correct, it has to be corrected through leadership and iron will which has been missing thus far. Perhaps with another term in office, the Kaptaan may succeed in steering the ship in the right direction.

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at fmaliks@hotmail.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.