The time to think is now

9 May 2019

World history has shown us that unless the people of a country raise their self-consciousness, their nation will not progress. Since long ago, the people in Pakistan have stopped objectively thinking about the current state of affairs. Perhaps this is due to the martial law eras or, perhaps, in this era of egotism, the people’s ability to think has remained limited to their personal priorities. Whatever the reason may be, if the Pakistani people cannot begin to think today, their condition will never change.

In our present situation, there are many essential issues and challenges that we need to think about. For example, if we were to analyze the political domain, we would see that for quite some time, the accountability net has seemed to be tightening around the politicians belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Surely, accountability is good for the country and it should be carried out. However, the fundamental condition is that accountability should meet the values of transparency and justice. Otherwise, this exercise cannot be considered “accountability”.

If we were to observe the situation sensibly, for the past few years, only the politicians associated with these two large parties have remained the target of accountability. Why is that so? This deserves to be thought about. Some argue that since these parties have had federal governments in the past and have governed the country for many terms, they have had the opportunity to indulge in corruption. This is the reason why they are now facing questions of accountability. However, it is worth considering that a vast majority of the members of the current government have come from these two parties but have not yet been targeted for accountability. Why is that so? Were those people who joined Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) by leaving one of those two parties righteous and corruption-free? Or did they become purified after joining the PTI? We will have to apply ourselves to find an answer to this question.

The leading challenges faced by the people of Pakistan are health, food security, unemployment, and corruption. If we were to analyze this meticulously, we would find that the fundamental cause of these issues is injustice, or rather the unavailability of justice

Will this accountability, after a few years, be considered like the accountability carried out by Saifur Rehman of Mian Sahib in the ’90s? Or will it be compared to the accountability in Musharraf’s era when the PPP (the Patriots) and the PML-N (the Like-Minded) were established? While this question can be answered only in the future, we also need to think about the way this accountability process has paralyzed the politics of the country.

It is not just the politicians, though. NAB is also tightening the noose around the bureaucrats associated with these politicians. There is no doubt that there are also a lot of black sheep within the bureaucrats, but only those bureaucrats who have worked with the PML-N and the PPP or those who are considered close to the leadership of these parties are considered corrupt. Could some of these bureaucrats who are now on the good books of the present government also be considered clean? It could be that people do not like the leadership of the PPP or the PML-N, but liking or disliking is the right of every Pakistani. Justice is the fundamental condition for the development of Pakistan. Why is it then that since Pakistan came into existence, only political leaders have been subjected to imprisonment?

On the other hand, while analyzing the government’s performance, many argue that this is the first time that this government has been given a chance to perform and serve the country. To a large extent, this is wrong because, after the 18th Amendment, which made the provinces largely autonomous, the PTI government spent a full five years in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). If we were to compare the performance of all provinces, KP did not see any significant measures implemented in the province that could suggest that the PTI was able to actually perform better than the PML-N and the PPP.

Just as a wise man would advise that tasting a small portion of meal from a pot will give you an idea of how the entire meal will taste, there is another way to analyze this situation. The Peshawar Metro Bus project can be treated as a litmus test of the performance of the PTI government. This project is similar to the Punjab Metro Bus project which attracted criticism from the opposition at the time it started, renaming it the “Jangla Bus” and calling it a waste of the taxpayers’ money. The opposition then claimed that it would build such a project in Peshawar at half the cost of the Lahore Metro project. In the end, the project swelled to double both the cost and duration of the Punjab Metro project. It is unfortunate to note that more than eight months have passed since the formation of the central PTI government and this project, which every now and then causes embarrassment to the present government in the media, has not yet been completed. God forbid, will this be the fate of all of Pakistan as well after five years? This question will also need to be answered.

The leading challenges faced by the people of Pakistan are health, food security, unemployment, and corruption. If we were to analyze this meticulously, we would find that the fundamental cause of these issues is injustice, or rather the unavailability of justice. If our superior and lower courts would start by providing affordable and expeditious justice, then these problems, including corruption, could be addressed. Despite being aware of this critical issue, what has the government done to address this situation over the past eight months? We will also need to think about this.

Even though some courts have been established, this is just a drop in the ocean. If, rather than doing anything else, Tehreek-e-Insaf, which has word “Insaf” (justice) in its name, would set as its core priority the provision of expeditious and affordable justice to the people and simply increase the number of judges in the lower courts by three to four times – which would not have any significant impact on the national budget – then within a few months, Pakistan’s economy would grow by two or three times and the lives of the people would be significantly improved. But, despite understanding all of this, why are the rulers of Pakistan not taking practical steps in this regard? The people of Pakistan will also have to think of an answer to all of these questions.

Published in Daily Times on dated 09-May-2019.

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