Nisar A. Memon
30-December-2019 – Pakistan Observer
25th December the day Quaid was born 144 years ago was yet another day for each citizen of Pakistan Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Parsi, Sikh, Buddhist or others – to reflect on our history, independence, geography, economy, social contract, legal system and above all the security. In doing so, we shall recall what we achieved as a country in the last 72 years, what we lost during this journey and what we need to do in the last quarter of the century of country’s run up to 2047. Vision of a free home land for Muslims of British ruled India where they will be free to practice their faith and shape their way of life and destiny was achieved on 14th August 1947. The freedom gained after supreme sacrifices of millions is being pursued by the country. East and west Pakistan was the geography to begin with, but in 1971 we lost our eastern wing and it is important to reflect and review ‘Justice Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report’ for transparency in public policy towards understanding the history for shaping our future.
Quaid believed that education should be number one priority of the new nation, and for nation to be effective it must be economically powerful in commerce, trade and industry then only it can prepare itself for defence against external aggression and to maintain internal security. Thus, the order of priority envisioned by him was education, economics and defence. Vision of a welfare state where citizen’s basic needs of social justice with education, commerce, trade, industry and defence was clearly spelt by our Quaid. Towards this, we achieved a lot by establishing institutions like hospitals, schools, colleges, universities, and research organizations, but the journey needs to be continued on fast track to achieve the agreed national goals without knee jerk but properly planned approach. Policies like one introduced in 70’s to bring cost of medicines in reach of common citizen need to be guarded for social justice. Vision of secure Pakistan to live in peace with its neighbors is a mirage due to international terrorism – a low intensity warfare. Except for borders with China; our western, north western and eastern borders remain to be vigilantly guarded by our armed forces built up with needed investment. Thanks to our strategic weapons, any adventure to alter our geography and areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir has and shall remain a pipe dream of our adversaries.
Any economy under control of foreign agencies for long periods may compromise the national sovereignty. Pakistan followed laissez-faire policy model all through except for few years in 70’s. Our model based on loans, grants, dependence on foreign funds and foreign representatives, and lack of long-term economic vision based on consensus of all stakeholders in and out of parliament has not given us the economy we could be proud to pass on to our future generation. We have not been able to control increasing population due to births and illegal foreign refugees. Vision of a country with its own economic system designed by genius of its citizens remains a huge challenge, consequently security and sovereignty of our country exposed.
The most important achievement country made, a quarter century after Quaid, was to have a consensus 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. The Constitution gives us a Parliamentary democratic system of governance. Despite interruptions, it remains but the need to strengthen its spirit and its implementation can only be relegated at the peril of country’s future.
We weaken the Constitution by opening new diversions like: Presidential form of government – settled in 1973 Constitution; new provinces – issues can be addressed by forming new districts; Kalabagh Dam which does not have consensus of provinces – was in fact decided during 60’s when President Ayub Khan chose Tarbela rather than Kalabagh under Indus Basin Treaty and we must recognize that since then a lot of water has flown under the bridge. Parliamentary form of government requires effective Council of Common Interest (CCI) and functional Ministry of Interprovincial Coordination. The framers of Constitution thought well to create CCI to strengthen the federation, now it is for the governments to ensure compliance. Governments must learn lessons from global trends of civil society pressures world wide which have uprooted even long-term dictators and governments.
The parliamentary form to take roots, we must not compromise the quality of parliamentarians and continuous monitoring of performance by their own self, their parties, media and public. The parliamentary resolutions and recommendations are a norm and we need to do the soul searching if it is being practiced or not. If set aside, the nation building will be hurt and the short-sighted governments will cause massive damage to our polity.
We have over the years, developed significant institutions in science, technology, date based both in public and private sector, transformed our Stock exchange business to handle millions of transactions by Central Depository Company to move business from index of 12,000 to over 50,000. We have built infrastructure like motorways to connect Karachi to Peshawar thereby reducing the time by half, thousands of kilometers of irrigation water canals, electricity transmission lines, intercity coaches, metro-buses in Islamabad and Lahore, But yet urban pollution in Lahore, sewerage in Karachi and public transportation in most urban and rural areas remain inadequate. The railway of colonial times being upgraded thanks to our Chinese friends; however, we must plan like other developing countries the fast speed bullet trains and the inland water ways to connect people living along the Indus and Kabul River Basins.
Our social services are dependent on the population and resources. The resources in terms of revenue continues to be thorny issue and yet not under government control while population continue to increase and the imbalance deteriorates compromising our social services for our terming millions.
What we need is the strategic plan with lid on population growth and human resource development using science and technology. We must shun the politics of disillusionment causing disarray in ranks and file, shun the prejudices and create leadership of youth to take country forward. Let us remind ourselves of Quaid’s moto: Unity, Faith and Discipline. This can be achieved by truly uniting, with faith in country and adopting discipline in each area of operation to march forward to take our country to greater heights.
—Nisar A Memon; author of ‘Insight into the Senate of Pakistan’