Nisar A. Memon
18-May- 2020 – Pakistan Observer
When a person, nation or humanity is beset with problem; the commonly tried and tested approach is to go to the root cause of the problem to understand, analyze and find solution to fix it. This is what is done in knowledge based organized societies with strong but firm, selfless but truthful, visionary but practical leadership. We have all witnessed the handling of Coronavirus by Islamabad leadership.
The pandemic in Pakistan is rooted through the import of it by our own nationals coming from USA and Iran initially. If Islamabad had analyzed it in time, we would have saved many a lives lost already and saved thousands from its painful contact and millions from the short term and long term mental agony, physical inconvenience and economic hardship.
The capability and capacity in Islamabad for cool rational thinking without bias is now an open secret. It has been recorded by media, including all pervasive social media, that the leadership viewed Covid-19 only with one lens – that of politics. The rest followed and explains the lack of Islamabad cooperation with provinces sans Punjab province which appears to have direct rule of Islamabad, not through the Governor Rule as provided in Article 232 / 234 of Constitution of Pakistan, but by informal arrangement. The results are very visible.
A closer look at our history indicates, if we had paid attention to identifying the root cause of issues as they came along we would not have questions like: why our public health and education not responsive to need of the hour, why our economy is based on alms, why our governance is weak, why despite strong bureaucracy we are unable to provide services to common man from Karakoram to Keti Bander, why we have conflicts between institutions and subsequent interference, why we have indigenously developed strategic weapons but yet for research on water, food and energy we are dependent on outside the country, why we hire consultants for even telling us what our vision should be, why we are producing leaders which sooner or later we renounce and show them the door. The list of why, why goes on.
This is because: our value system has and is eroding; our education system is not based on science and technology; institutions have and are decaying; our parliament is not what was envisaged; we have laws but enforcement is nonexistent, compromised or selective; our judiciary is unable to provide speedy justice to common man; perpetually there is a ruling class and a ruled one; our society has visible conflict of interest at the highest offices and people violating constitution are not taken to task.
We all know, the value system starts from home and built up by schooling therefore the fundamental right to education must be enforced and the education system aligned with our value systems and science to meet the needs of the time. We need well placed government priorities replacing old colonial systems. The political reforms should begin with political parties followed by electoral reforms to get high quality competent representative elected to assemblies. We have Constitution that governs our country and any violation is punishable, towards this, the reforms in judiciary is the way forward. All this and more can be done with the political will of leadership and trust in our people.
Pakistan, thanks to collective leadership of seventies achieved a historic milestone in 1973 of a unanimous federal parliamentary Constitution. Later, in response to historical requirements, a landmark 18th Amendment was unanimously agreed and incorporated in our Constitution in 2010. Despite these, we have neither delivered the services nor the development of our citizens, for several reasons. A Standing Parliamentary Committee should address it in earnest and if needed suggest necessary laws in the same spirit as at time of 1973 Constitution and 18th Amendments under the federal parliamentary system.
We have come full circle from Local Government of 50’s to Basic Democracy of 60’s, to Constitution in 70’s, to National Reconstruction Bureau at the dawn of this century for development of local economic independence and local government law, to the 18th Constitutional Amendment in 2010. Time is now to implement grass root governance for much needed service delivery without cutting corners in the coming National Finance Commission award. This will also result in people responding positively with their votes for good governance.
Charity begins at home, therefore Government in Islamabad should set an example for others to follow. It should close down visible redundant Ministries and divisions not needed and keep the numbers to absolute minimum. The number of elected Ministers should be reduced by grouping ministries to be handled by one minister, like it has been done in the past; and even in this government a non-elected Advisor had been incharge of Commerce, Textile, Industries, Production and Investment for over 18 months. Leadership should remember, small is beautiful and manageable.
In the presence of ministers and secretaries the chief executive need no personal assistants, since the secretaries from service cadres are capable to be of assistance, while ministers provide political policy making as envisaged by the Constitution.
The three tiers; federal, provincial and district system should be balanced in its administration for implementing 18th Amendment. This is not an additional expense but reassignment of released officers from Islamabad to provinces for strengthening local governance.
Who can do better job than officers selected by Federal or Provincial Public Service Commissions which select the best through competitive exams. These officers have profound governance knowledge and years of administration experience.
Post Covid-19, we need to go back to old natural living but using new modes of clean technology, we must go back to simple living with our rich heritage value system. We can go back to rural roots but those who do not have rural background can adopt rural ways or go back to Mohala level in urban areas.
Let’s not only go to root causes but to our roots to live the dream of Allama Iqbal and Jinnah. There is still time to unite as we let lose our people in the face of continued Coronavirus presence. The sooner Islamabad divert it’s attention to unity from conflicts, better will be its service to people to make the country as self respecting sovereign country.
The writer is former, federal minister and senator