BY QAISAR SULTAN
What should we do when it is obvious that the state is failing rapidly? Should we rely on a failed democracy? Should we stay silent knowingly that the elected leaders are incompetent, corrupt and destroying the country? The democracy in Pakistan has failed over and over again. There is no doubt that the democratic system of the government provides fairness and progress, not only on social grounds, but also economically benefits the country. Instead, we have experienced the social decay and weak economy during the democratic governments. The democracy seems to bring in the worst ethnic feelings among provinces in Pakistan. The political parties are more bigoted than the people of Pakistan- They exploit their constituency by bringing out the uncalled fears of others. From Nawaz Sharif’s “Jag Punjabi Jag” to Zardari regular threats to the state on Sindh card to Baluchistan’s separatism and popularity of Taliban in Pakhtoonkhwa and the killing of Pathans in Karachi, the country is coming apart. In the Pakistani style democracy, the feudal lords, Jagirdars, vaderas and rich get the best opportunity to expand their power and making money. If the democracy cannot provide security and bring about the happiness to its people, what is the purpose of a democratic dispensation that denies all the virtues of a democratic government? There are no individual rights and protection to the minorities. In the absence of utilitarian consideration of democracy, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer as the elected rich groups and their cronies make more money through corruption.
The traditional western democracy is based on secular ideas; and the separation of the church and state played an important role to that idea. The present Islamic states have been struggling to reconcile some of the ideas that may be construed in some religious minded leadership as anti-Islamic. For example, the Ahemdi issue and declaring them non-Muslims by a democratic government of Bhutto was out of character of the function of a democratic government- that was done to score points; and was done for appeasing the religious groups. In the process, they lost the protection of the state and were persecuted. The state has no business of the people’s religion- Let the people worship as they please. Though there is an inherent schism in the religious ideology and secular and democratic values, the idea of bridging some of the reciprocal grounds could be the basis of sharing the very basic concept of security, happiness and virtues. But the recent mind set in the Islamic orthodoxy makes it extremely difficult to compromise on the common grounds. The other factor is that after a long period of colonial setting in Islamic world, the democratic system serves the majority to a point that the minorities looses their rights, as the majority exert their will on the minorities. The majority vote for these clowns. If that is the will of the people, we should happily accept the will of the people, accepting and electing the most evil people in the country. During the constitutional amendment case, the government’s attorney made an argument that the people only elect the corrupt and bad politicians; when he put an honest and qualified candidate, he received only fifty votes. The Supreme Court warned him of the contempt of the will of the people. Is this kind of democracy we are after. When a national member was disqualified due to the falsification of his qualification, the PPP choose him for re-election; he won the election by wide margin. Do we need a democracy that supports liars, cheaters, and illiterate shameless people? One legislator submitted his bachelor and master degree, where he received the master degree before the bachelor degree and high school diploma after his college education- That is the depth of our democratically elected legislators; and that is the depth of our democracy.
The bankrupt economy, the inept and corrupt democratic government, the unmanageable destruction due to flooding, a poor image of the country all over the world, the water and electric problems, poverty, the insecurities, lawlessness, the extremism, separatism, and the decay of the whole society have made it necessary to take some serious decision to save the country. The revolution is not possible in an environment of the fissure we have in the country; we are divided people. The majority is too poor, illiterate and has no leadership to launch a violent overthrow of the government. I say, reluctantly, let the military take the bull by the horn and slaughter the beast. Let them take over on one condition: no military man would be in power. Instead they would appoint honorable, educated and competent non-politicians to run the government for seven years. Every ministry should be given to a person with expertise in the field of his post. Their finances should be carefully watched and monitored by an independent board. All the corrupt politicians should be sent to jails; where they should be held as long as they do not return the stolen wealth. The accountability board should be comprised of five honorable judges, one from each province. The corrupt politicians and their family member’s assets should be frozen and they should be investigated for foreign assets as well. They should be banned for life in politics.
In order to have a balance between “have and have not”, the disparity should be reduced by taxation on the rich and agriculture. It is better to take away the land from fat cats; and should be given to hard working growers. The taxation system should be as strict as possible and the attention should be paid to make sure that the tax collectors are not living beyond their means- As a matter of fact; no government official should be living beyond their income.
The democratic institution should be developed through gradualism. In the gradual advancement of democracy, the people should be educated; there should be five and ten year revolutionary educational reform projects to educate the illiterate people. The Madrasahas should be converted to modern schools. The education budget should be at least ten percent of the total. A fair and honest census should be conducted. The provinces should be given full autonomy, and they should be able to use their resources and income. The provincial and ethnic bickering must come to an end. The center should have only defense, foreign policy and monetary affairs of the country. The military should not be allowed to make the decision to go to war; it has to be strictly a civilian decisions. The war is the extension of the state policies; and the state policies should be in the hands of the civilian leadership. There must be a separation of religious institutions and the state policies. The religious parties should only be restricted to the religion. These suggestions are most probably not doable. But at least, we should know that there are some possible solutions to save the country. The people are disgusted and disgruntled. They do not know what is next. The international community sees us as rogue and a failed state. How far the people of Pakistan can tolerate this decay? Pakistan had great potentials, the military and civilian leadership and state policies had ruined all the possibilities. In the sixties, the UN published a report where Pakistan was considered as a fast developing nation. Today, we are at the bottom. We have to find solutions to change the way things stand now. The first action should be to get rid of the uncouth democratically elected, “SO CALLED LEADERS”; we had enough of an inoperative democracy in Pakistan.