First that feudal bitch insulted the APO and now she has forced her to defend her. We need the toppling of this feudal/military/corporatist hold on our country to move ahead with prosperity and dignity.
We need to get rid of these feudal scum bags and their strangle hold on our country. These feudals along with military junta have damaged our country and they are holding our freedom as their captive. We need to take all back from them and kick them out of the corridors of powers. If we don’t do it then our future generations will be right to curse us for our lack of interest in defending our future.
Also I would like to ask those so called liberal NGOs who advocate women rights only when it suits their agenda to come forward and take the lead on the issue.
I would also like to appeal Election Commission of Pakistan and Supreme Court of Pakistan to cancel the registration of Waheeda Shah.
Slapped APO defends Waheeda Shah at press conference
TANDO MUHAMMAD KHAN: Waheeda Shah, the Pakistan People’s Party’s candidate who slapped an Assistant Presiding Officer (APO) in a polling station Saturday, held a press conference and got the humiliated officer to speak in her favor, Geo News reported.
Waheeda Shah had the APO accompany her to the press conference held today and got the latter to give a statement in the former’s support.
However, the people from Waheeda Shah’s own constituency said the woman in Burqa was not the one who was slapped and humiliated yesterday.
Nothing could be said with certainty whether the woman at press conference was the same woman who was subjected to the ill treatment on Saturday. Even if it is believed the woman was the same, her defending the wrongdoer may lay bare the helplessness of the officer but it cannot give Waheeda Shah a clean chit.
It clearly appears to be a case of the powerful Waheeda Shah, a big landlord of the area, getting the poor teacher named Shagufta to give a statement against the herself (Shagufta) and in the former’s defence.
Perhaps Shagufta would have thought that if Waheeda Shah could beat her in front of cameras what worse she must be capable of doing in their absence.
Our political dynamics are changing drastically with new players emerging and old players losing their positions. We are also seeing a power struggle between so called Rightists vs Leftists or Seculars vs Theocrats and somewhere there are parties which place themselves in-between. People are even talking about Judicial Martial Law.
But over all out look shows that the focus is on putting together a centralized system with some aspects of democracy. Our feudal culture, history of martial laws and domination of state institutions have restricted our minds to run things from centre with iron fist or authoritarian ways.
What is lacking in this approach is the realization of our diversity in the society. We are a country with diversified ethnic, sectarian and other social classes. Many of us cite China as an example and consider their Democratic Centralization as an ideal concept for Pakistan. We need to know that China has a dominant socialist ideology and their culture is pretty much same throughout China. They have a civilization which can be called as a Chinese Civilization. On the other hand Pakistan doesn’t have a single Pakistani Civilization. Pakistan is on the meeting point of several civilizations on both sides of Indus and which show different cultural and demographic colors if we move from Karachi to K2.
We cannot have a same system for Karachi and FATA or Islamabad and Dera Bugti. Attempts were made by Military dictators like Zia, Musharraf and Ayub who tried to implement their personal ideologies on the whole country and ending up creating a mess. Similarly civilian feudal-corporatists also tried to implement their vision on the whole country and again added to the mess. Even those who talk about liberalism have their own sectarian, ethnic and social class prejudices backing their ideals.
We need a decentralized system where federal government has minimum authority to run defense, dispute resolution and few other things. Even with them a concept of voluntary involvement and local considerations need to be taken into account. We need a system where decision making is brought to the local level which will also ensure merit among different localities selecting their leaders. It is unfair for those who don’t elect a corrupt government but they also have to face the bad consequences of its actions. To keep things in tact we can have a constitutional setup where rules of engagements should be mentioned between different constituents of the country. In short we need a “Rule of Law based Decentralization”.
This decentralization should be in Governance, Legislation and Economics. This is not something impractical; we can see some colors of it in countries like United States or Australia. Obviously for that we need to consider the ideology which dominated at the time of the creation of the country which is also reflected in the Objective Resolution. If we talk about Islam then “Meesaq e Madina” can show us how Muslims and Jews made an agreement by accepting each other as a reality. Even in a centralized country like China, they had to make adjustments in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Even Russia has different Republics with some autonomy. In Pakistan’s case Quaid e Azam made agreements with our tribes which resulted in the tribes becoming part of Pakistan. These agreements allowed the tribal people to maintain their autonomy and also accept few fundamental laws of Pakistan. We also need a loose central structure to avoid the class clashes.
At the moment power is concentrated to center and everyone wants to control it either through the power of masses or power of gun. We even cannot afford a democratic system where 90% decides to suppress the remaining 10%. It will create the sense of alienation and hopelessness in the parties not in power and so can result in an undesirable retaliation which can be damaging for all.
We need to come out of the copycat mentality and be genuine in our approach as our problems are genuine and bit different from where we are trying to import the solutions.Mutual existence can only prevail through mutual acceptance of each other as a reality.
Note : A bit edited version is also available on http://blogs.thenewstribe.com/blog/66276/decentralization-a-solution/
Official Pakistani documents detailing how the country’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, benefited from massive, secret payments connected to the sale of French submarines to Pakistan have been seized as evidence by a Paris magistrate investigating a suspected widespread scam surrounding the deal.
The documents, revealed for the first time by Mediapart, show that the payments to Zardari and others took place on the fringes of the sale of three Agosta-class submarines by the French defence contractor the DCN) to Pakistan in the 1990s. The French sale succeeded against rival offers by Swedish and German contractors.
The sale, and the payment of bribes associated with it - officially termed as commissions – are at the core of what has become known as the ‘Karachi affair’, currently the subject of two French judicial investigations and which has rocked the French political establishment with its potential far-reaching ramifications within France.
A key allegation in the developing affair is that the cancellation of commissions paid out in the submarine deal was the motive behind a suicide bomb attack in Karachi on May 8th, 2002, that left 11 French engineers dead. They were in Pakistan to help build one of the Agosta submarines.
Increasing evidence suggests that cancellation of the commissions, ordered by former French president Jacques Chirac, was decided after it was discovered they were in part re-routed back to France to fund political activities of Chirac’s principal political rival, Edouard Balladur. For the full background to the story please click here.
The documents now in possession of Paris-based judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke were found during a French police search in June 2010 of the home of Amir Lodhi , one of the intermediaries involved in securing the Agosta contract. Lodhi held a copy of a report by a Pakistani anti-corruption service, the Ehtesab Cell.
Lodhi, 61, the brother of a former Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations, is a close friend of Zardari, who became president of Pakistan in 2008 one year after the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto.
The raid on Lodhi’s home in the French capital was carried out by detectives from the French police national financial investigation division, the DNIF, (Division nationale des investigations financiers). The Ehtesab Cell documents were the object of a formal report by the DNIF, established on June 17th, 2010, and reveals that Zardari received backhanders worth 6,934,296 euros between October and December 1994.
That report is now among the evidence collected by Van Ruymbeke in his investigations launched last autumn into the financial aspect of the Agosta submarine sale, and in particular whether commissions paid abroad were re-routed to fund political activities within France.
Originally written in English, the Pakistani document was translated by the DNIF investigators and now provides the first clear details about the scale of the payments made to Zardari, amounting to several million euros, as well as the channels used, including offshore companies, bank accounts and a British tax haven.
Bank transfers to the Virgin Islands
The Agosta submarine contract was signed between the two countries on September 21st, 1994, just weeks before the first payments began.
At the time, Zardari was a minister in the Pakistani government then led by his wife, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Importantly, Zardari was the key figure for all public contracts signed with foreign countries. That position earned Zardari the unflattering nickname in his own country of “Mister 10%”.
The main document seized by French investigators is a photocopy of an original dated November 9th, 1997, concerning a request by Pakistan to Switzerland for co-operation in a judicial investigation.
The request by the Pakistani authorities to Switzerland aimed, according to the officer, “to obtain all the necessary information to pursue a criminal investigation and to try the former prime minister of Pakistan, Madame Bhutto, her husband, Monsieur Asif Ali Zardari, her mother, Begum Nusrat Bhutto and the other members of the Bhutto government, public servants and civilians implicated in the conspiracy of Madame Bhutto and/or her husband to misappropriate public funds for their own profit.”
The French police report said the document explicitly referred to the Agosta contract: “This request concerns several cases of malpractice including that of the purchase of French submarines.” According to the DNIF investigators “the chronology and the currency [of the sums paid] suggest that these payments are secret commissions paid by the DCN-I [the commercial arm of the submarine builders DCN] to Monsieur Zardari and Monsieur Lodhi for their considerable service in assuring that DCN-I got the contract”.
Huge sums are recorded at the end of 1994 alone, when a company called Marleton Business Inc. was set up through a lawyer in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands for use by Zardari. A first payment of some of 5.5 million francs (about 838,000 euros) took place in October 1994 “of which 70% goes to Monsieur Zardari (AAZ) and 30% to Monsieur Lodhi (AL),” noted the French police report.
Sarkozy’s ministry ‘approved’ bribe sums
A second transfer took place two months later, in December, for an altogether larger sum of 59.48 million francs, (about 9.06 million euros) “divided into 41.636 million [francs] for Monsieur Zardari and 17.844 million for Monsieur Lodhi”. That represented 6,934,296 euros for the current president of Pakistan, and 2,971,841 euros for his partner.
According to the French investigators, the official Pakistani documents seized in Lohdi’s Paris home also explain that “Messieurs Lodhi and Zardari received their bribes in the bank accounts of a series of offshore companies”.
The report says they are all based in the Virgin Islands and they are identified by the DNIF as: Marvil Associated Inc., Penbury Finance, Oxton Trading, Crimities Holding and Dustan Trading.
The banks involved in the payments were also recorded in the Pakistani documents, as well as the bank accounts used. “The commissions paid into the accounts, notably opened by these companies at the Pasche bank and the bank of Piguet et Cie, in Switzerland, were probably supplied by transfer from the Banque française du Commerce extérieur [French bank of Foreign Trade], account number 2700 0008358 or IV10000083580.”
Several high-profile witnesses questioned in November and December 2010 by judge Van Ruymbeke have insisted that the bribes paid in 1994 were perfectly legal and were approved by France’s then-defence minister, François Leotard, and its budget minister, now France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy.
In a statement he gave to Van Ruymbeke on November 9th, 2010, former DCN-I finance director, Gérard-Philippe Menayas, said “the total volume of the commissions was validated, contract by contract, by the ministers of the budget and defence.”
In a statement given to judge Van Ruymbeke on December 7th, 2010, Jacques Dewatre, who in 1994 was head of the French foreign intelligence service, now called the DGSE, testified that “The approval for commissions is the responsibility of services which depend upon the Minister of Defence and the Minister of the Budget.”
Mediapart has learnt Van Ruymbeke’s investigation has already established that, in order to convince the Pakistani authorities to choose the French submarines, a very structured network of corruption was established by a French state company dedicated to such activities. This was the Société française de matériels d’armement, the SOFMA, which partnered the designers and builders of the submarines, the DCN.
Van Ruymbeke has evidence that the SOFMA set aside the equivalent in francs of 51.6 million euros for bribes to be paid out in the Pakistan deal.
Influential agents working with the SOFMA used the money to gain the favours of numerous Pakistani dignitaries, in both military and political spheres. While the practice of commission payments was then legal for France, the reception of bribes was illegal in Pakistan.
Asif Ali Zardari was one of the main benefactors of the paid bribes, according to a former SOFMA managing director, Henri Guittet. He evaluated the sum paid to Zardari as being 4% of the total value of the sales contract, which amounts to a value of 33 million euros.”I believe there was one per cent paid upon the signature of the sales contract, which means at the moment when everything can get underway and when notably the deposit and [partial] down payment has been paid, and one per cent later,” he said in a formal statement. “The remaining two per cent was pro rata with the payment of the clients.”
But French judicial investigators are investigating whether the Agosta contract also involved illegal payments in France. It was in the summer of 1994, despite the fact that negotiations with Pakistan over the sale were already successfully concluded, that the government of then-prime minister Edouard Balladour imposed two Lebanese intermediaries in the contract, Ziad Takieddine and Abdulrahman El-Assir.
They were promised supplemantary commission payments worth more than 30 million euros. Both judge Van Ruymbeke and judge Marc Trévedic, who is heading investigations into the murders of the French engineers, have collected evidence suggesting that part of the supplementary commissions was destined for Balladur’s 1995 presidential election campaign.
Trévedic’s investigation has discarded the theory touted by the Pakistani authorities that the engineers were targeted by al-Qaida. He is now centring on suspicions that the bomb attack was directly or indirectly linked to the secret financial arrangements surrounding the Agosta deal. More precisely, that it was in retaliation for the non-payment of commissions promised to Pakistanis after they were all blocked by Balladur’s rival Jacques Chirac, after he won the 1995 elections.(Mediapart)
Comment : This case is a true example of corrupt alliance between feudal-corporatist politicians and corrupt people in military establishment.
Before the concepts of agrarian and market economies, ancient societies especially the Roman Empire used to have a system based on Manorialism. In that society ruling elite comprising mostly of feudal elite and others used to control the land resources of the state through their political and military influence. The ruling elite support their finances and lifestyle by collecting obligatory contributions from the peasants and slave population under their jurisdiction. The contributions were in the form of coins, mandatory labor or even in the form of usable items and kinds. The dependent in return only used to get the right of living, earning just enough to live and a false sense of security.
The way situation in Pakistan is going, it seems we are moving very fast in backward direction of time to the point where Manorialism was at its peak and few lords used to enjoy enormous economic and ruling power. Recent debate on imposing new taxes or increasing the percentages of the old one to serve the expenses and corruption of our ruling elite is a good example of this.
The reality of our situation is that few classes of our people are working like bonded labour to pay most of the taxes so that they can ensure their living and also serve the ruling classes of the state. The Tax to GDP ratio debate and the methods which are devised to increase it in order to bring it to so called international standards seems to be leading a common salary class person in a position where he will only be able to serve the ruling elite with his hard work and his own survival will be just enough to keep him available for work.
The problem with our country is not of low Tax to GDP ratio but the real problem is wastage of resources and money for serving the huge size of governments comprising of around hundred of federal ministers and equal positioned offices. Also in provinces the situation is no different with lots of illicit ministries and offices working just to accommodate the supporters of ruling elite and ensure a regular income through kick backs and percentages.
Major area of our budget goes into debt retirement and interest payments. With Debt to GDP ratio of over 60 percent resulting in high interest payments and no policy of reducing or controlling the expenses, we cannot expect any improvement in our current economic crisis. In fact the current tax debate is for RGST which is being imposed to fulfil the demand of IMF to get more loans.
Another area where we are suffering badly is unaccounted defense budget and useless expense on an unwanted war. The war is not only hitting some estimated 13.5 billion dollars annually but it is taking the investment and business opportunities away from the country resulting in unemployment and economic slow down. This economic slow down and unemployment is also resulting in high crime rate and low standard of living. This shows a real sorry situation and it seems we are in a self-destruction mode.
Now the question is how to come out of this mess keeping in mind our problems, limitations, resources and opportunities. The problems and limitations discussed above are obvious and only an average mind is required to understand them. The real thing is to look what resources we have and what opportunities we can produce for the economy of our country.
First thing to do is to reduce government expenses and for that reduction in the size of government is must. Government should limit itself in areas where it is required most or if required at all. Most of the departments and ministries like housing, women development ,defence production and many others are simply there to accommodate political allies and cronies. Also we need to see how much burden the government-owned organizations put on our economy. Not only illicit expenditures are a problem but the real problem is corruption and resulting loss of money. Not only ending corruption in these institutions is required but giving them to private sector through privatization or if no buyer is there then involving private sector through public-private partnership on merit and transparent accountability can help in reducing the expenses.
For debt retirement, not only steps like privatization based on merit, transparency and fair value can help but selling the prime commercial land which our institutions hold can help the cause. There is simply no reason to have military bases or armed forces colonies on prime commercial area such as Shahra e Faisal or Sadar. In most of the countries military bases are planned outside the cities which not only help in controlling the problem of population congestion and development of new areas but the commercial value of land can give billions of dollars which can be used for debt reduction. If we are able to reduce or eliminate our debt then instead of putting more taxes on people, our country can afford some tax relief for them.
We also need to end non productive politically motivated programs such as Benazir Income Support Program which are making people beggars. For welfare of extremely needy a community driven Zakat system can help the cause with checks and balance from the society, where it is collected from. There is a serious requirement of revising our defense and intelligence budget and for this transparency and accountability are must. We need to see where the money is going and whether it is required in the area or not. This is every taxpayers right to know that the money is spent in the right direction.
We have also invested heavily in defense technology areas including nuclear technology, military vehicles and aeronautical technology. It is right time now to open the opportunities for private sector and share the research with private sector in return of royalty or going for joint ventures with government only contributing with technology base or in rare cases land. This can help us a lot in developing a strong private sector base in automobile, aeronautical, energy and other areas of industry. Not only huge revenue can be generated but job creation without burdening the budget and taxpayers will be possible with this.
Instead of taking flood taxes, value added taxes or useless surcharges on energy which make the economy slow and increase the cost of living and business. Again a community driven Aushur system for agriculture and natural resources areas can help bring those people in contributing classes who only know how to get more out of the economy i.e. feudal-corporatist ruling elite. Also the plot and agriculture land distribution culture is needed to be ended. Currently prime residential and agricultural land is being distributed in influential sections of our society especially related to military and political elite. This culture of giving exclusive control of land based on influence is a sign of slave society discussed in the beginning.
Apart from reducing cost of business to ensure economic growth and progress of business, Rule of Law is must. Not only terrorism and government created energy crisis are making the business difficult but red-tapism, extortion money collected by mafias and political parties, illicit licensing and quotas for political corruption are making it harder for a genuine business to flourish or even start. Independent and strong judiciary, protection of human rights and freedom are must for the progress of any country.
It is wrongly assumed that government has every right or authority to get taxes out of the hard-earned money of its working classes. Government needs to justify the taxes they take and expenditure they make. Its high time for nation to see what their ruling elite is doing and whose interest they are serving. We need to decide whether we live in a free country or a medieval slave society.
Pakistan’s political dynamics has seen its different colors over the last six decades. The country saw some of the most oppressive military regimes and also some of the most corrupt periods of elected plutocracy. Our history saw struggles between left and right and also became an active player in the cold war period.
Though our politics has been influenced strongly by the foreign masters of our ruling elites. But in that our establishment has always played a vital role either as a proxy rule for foreign powers or as a king maker in local politics, many times the role has been a mixture of both. The honest reality of our history is that this role of our establishment has seriously dented our political culture, damaged rule of law and also harmed our rights as free citizens of this country.
A country which was founded on the principles of justice and equality didn’t live up to the expectations due to the dismal performance of our establishment and their cultivated corrupt political culture based on feudal-corporatist mindsets. Right from the days of Ghulam Muhammad, Pakistani establishment strengthened its hold on the affairs of the state and its politics. Pakistan was thrown into an unwanted cold war and thus it gave up its freedom which it got few years ago into the hands of imperialist forces lead by USA, which at that time took place of United Kingdom as world super power along with its rival USSR.
Initially establishment rule was evenly balanced between civil and military establishments but later on especially after Ayub Khan martial law, military acted as the main force of establishment. Now by establishment we can easily refer to GHQ as main source of political power. Even Fatimah Jinnah, one of the strong political figure of our country and sister of founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah was not able to defeat this system. But her role in politics did make our establishment to get involved more in party politics or politics of masses. Now if I see things as an ordinary student of politics, foundation of PPP was meant to fill the political vacuum in the country so that those forces including Awami League, Jamat e Islami and others, who opposed Ayub martial law openly could not strengthen their grounds as alternate political reality other than establishment.
This approach worked in West Pakistan due to strong feudal system but failed in East Pakistan so establishment with the backing of feudal political class decided to use force on our own people. And we all know the consequences of 1971 riots and later Indo-Pak war. There was a chance for the nation to learn lessons from the mistakes and change the future course of actions.
But it didn’t happen except for few adjustments, including a real major one of developing 1973 constitution, our political outlook remained same. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was a product of establishment, who tried to become larger than he should be in the eyes of establishment and also started a nuclear program against the wishes of our imperialist masters, became a liability to the system and so he was removed from the scene through Zia martial law and later hanged till death in a murder case of controversial nature.
Removal of Bhutto, instead of giving some relief to martial law forces became counter productive especially in the province of Sind so a new political reality of MQM was given space and support by military establishment. In Zia’s time not only constitution was treated badly but his use of religion to give cover to his oppressive and hypocrite regime proved to be another major blunder in the history of our country.
Later after the death of General(R) Zia ul Haq, PPP with sympathy votes and deals with local and international establishment came into power. Instead of learning from past mistakes and doing accountability of constitutional violations and corruptions by Zia regime, PPP started a new era of corruption and nepotism in Pakistani politics. They were also joined by their rivals, PML(N) which was a product of Zia remains, in this political culture. This culture saw its ups and downs and political maneuvering by establishment through the formation of IJI and sacking of governments.
In this time Nawaz Sharif of PML(N), also emerged as a big political force through a huge mandate in 1997 elections by bagging 137 seats. Nawaz tried to undermine the unwanted reality of our political history i.e. military establishment and did not follow the line of imperialist master while conducting nuclear tests in 1998,was sacked in a military coup by General (R) Musharraf. In Nawaz’s sacking his controversial 15th amendment and attacks on judiciary also played a key role as these actions weakened the rule of law and supremacy of constitution in the country and thus giving more room for unconstitutional measures by opportunist forces of martial law.
Musharraf rule proved to be one of the most disastrous periods of Pakistani history. In this tenure Pakistan get involved into a foreign war and this war was later dragged into our cities through some of the most evil policies. This war and Musharraf’s rule converted the diversity of our society into a clash between sects, ethnicity and social classes.
Actions like attack on Supreme Judiciary, abrogation of constitution, illegal abductions, extra judicial killings, military operations including heavy bombings on civilian areas, 12 May 2007 and 9 March 2007 and others really broke the back of Pakistani economy and society. The society after Musharraf is more fragmented and country is facing some of the worst consequences of his actions.
Then another foreign sponsored deal, between forces of martial law and feudal-corporatist political elite, resulted in current NRO government. In return of Musharraf’s safety and continuation of his imperialist slave policies, current ruling alliance was not only given power but all criminal cases were removed in the name of reconciliation. In the mean time, removal of Benazir Bhutto from the scene also helped her cronies and beneficiaries of NRO deal to capture more sympathy votes. Despite a report by UN, Benazir murder case is still not seeing much progress except for cover ups.
Our history saw politics of so called Left and so called Right, so called Red and so called Green and also the so called struggle between forces of dictatorships and so called forces of democracy. The reality is most of these setups were fake and were meant to serve the goals of ruling elite and their foreign masters.
Old games are now again being played by our ruling elite with assistance from foreign masters. Former dictator Musharraf is planning to come back into politics. Pir Pagara has also started his alliance of failed politicians in the name of uniting Muslim League.
PPP and allied parties are still playing their dirty games to strengthen their rule through fear and control politics as a result a commercial hub like Karachi is seeing one of the worst periods of target killings.Institutional corruption, high inflation and a huge government-created energy crisis to pave way for their corruption in Rental Power Projects are putting us into further economic disaster.
Natural resources and assets are on sale for nothing and again our nation is being fooled just for the monetary gains of few.So called opposition comprising of PML-Q and PML-N are busy in playing their hypocritical role. People are still not able to come out of their prejudices and short term greed and so giving strength to this system through “Zindabad” mentality.
Even floods have not changed the situation much. Supreme Court, which has provided some hope after restoration is being sidelined by government and institutions. Lawyers and media which emerged as a new force in national politics are now being divided through money and threats. Government involvement in SCBA elections and threats to media are examples of this approach. Situation in Afghanistan will come with its own dynamics and impacts on Pakistani politics.
Luckily few good things happened in recent times including the revival of civil society, emergence of free and resilient media, and an independent Supreme Court. These are real challenging times for those who love freedom and justice. These include all those who are struggling for rule of law, justice, accountability, freedom and respect for nation, and above all a better Pakistan. Lot is needed to be done and it seems to be an almost impossible task but lets hope for the best as we are responsible for our actions and decisions not the given conditions and out of control realities.
Recently, Transparency International published their Corruption Perception Index in which Pakistan was placed at 34th position. Also in UN Humanitarian Development Index, Pakistan is proudly placed at 125 with Zimbabwe at lowest on 169 and small countries like Srilanka and Maldives in better positions of 99 and 107 than World’s 7th Nuclear Power. Many people especially those with some sort of sympathies with our ruling elite criticize the authenticity of these indexes.
One of the main argument presented against the results is lack of understanding by these institutions about the local conditions and environment. This criticism seems to be valid and genuine because if the analysis is based on real conditions then the results might come out worse.
If we look at the problems a common person faces due to corruption, law and order situation, and incompetent governance then the seriousness of the issues become a bit clear. Reality on the ground is that not only corruption is destroying our so-called national institutions and costing us billions but it has buried a common man straight under.
From cartelization to paying forceful unnecessary taxes, there is no justification of calling the present situation even near satisfactory. High inflation and energy crises are a result of government sponsored cartelization and corrupt privatization without merit. If things are done in transparent way and Rule of Law is established then we can expect some improvement in turbulent economy, if it has not crashed yet.We are already moving around 4 percent GDP growth which is very low as compared to countries like India and China in the same region.
If a common man saves enough money through his hard work, even in this time of government sponsored inflation, and decides to build his house then a new series of hurdles and problems start for him. First one is to go through the government doors for transferring the plots, passing the site plan and other unnecessary approvals which not only cost huge amount of fees but a big amount is taken from his through forceful corruption otherwise his file disappears somewhere in hell.
Once he goes through the process then the process of construction comes, if high prices of construction material due to unjustified sales taxes is not enough then extortion money will surely take a lot juice out of him. All the major government parties and their allied mafias are involved in this game. In case of Karachi, areas are distributed and in each area people are bound to pay this money if they want to make their houses or they want to do business. If someone denies then Shersha Kabari Market incident is not that old to remind us what can happen.
Recent target killing also has some touch of this mafia war for taking more and more area under control. Many times where demarkation of areas is not clear people have to pay extortion to multiple parties. The situation has gone worse after floods, especially in Karachi, not only due to chanting demographics but also due to further slowdown in economy and high inflation.
Cost of doing and initiating business is also a major problem. Not only permits, licensing and quotas are a major problem but red-tapism, corruption, security issues and high electricity are things which in any country can break the backbone of business. Load shedding of 12 hours in a commercial hub like Karachi cannot send a positive message for any investor whether local or international.
The situation is not only resulting in the flight of capital but it has created unemployment issues as well which directly impacts the standard of living. We often demand overseas Pakistanis to bring their money in the country but if we honestly analyse the situation then the demand looks a bit unjust.
At the moment our country is facing worst kind of shameless plutocracy in the name of democracy with mafias and government cronies hammering the life out of our people.
The responsibility also lies on the shoulders of people as they are the ones who chant slogans for these leaders and support either corrupt politicians or dictators.
The real issue is not just that how long this situation can go on but the real issue how long our country can sustain it. We need to come out of this situation otherwise time doesn’t wait for anyone and if worse becomes worst and worst becomes unchangeable then collapse of everything becomes inevitable. So the choice is ours and we are already getting late for the right choices to be made. Instead of cursing institutions for bringing out reports reflecting our dismal performance we need to focus on improving the situation and coming out of this mess.
- Also on : http://blogs.aaj.tv/2010/11/shameless-plutocracy-and-turbulent-economy/
We have seen some interesting developments in last 4-5 days including NRO case and government deceptions, government sponsored rifts between lawyers and we also need to look at this in Supreme Court Bar elections and now the notification issue.
PPP leaders including PM gillani have given statements in the past regarding the March 2009 restoration notification . Circles in PPP have been talking about it as a possible card to counter the judiciary. PM also hinted this in parliament when he said that the restoration order is still needed to be endorsed by the parliament.
Its good to see that media , civil society and judiciary are alert on this issue. SC has clearly said that a move like this will be termed as high treason and will be dealt with according to Article 6 of the constitution.
Our ruling elite doesn’t want Supremacy of Law and Constitution based on justice and equality. They want a rule of elite including feudal-corporatist politicans and military establishment. They only know how to serve their greed and the will of their imperialist masters.
It seems our government is planning another game. They want to come out of this situation as victims as they are not able to government properly. It will be on judiciary, media and civil society to ensure accountability and justice to prevail.
We as civil society should keep ourselves ready for any attempt to again create a constitutional crisis. The struggle for Rule of Law must go on all grounds. We all need to play our part and the least thing can be done is not to support the evil.
Also there is a planning of North Waziristan Operation going on . The decision will further damage the federation and will result in more terrorism as we have seen in the past.
Issue of power sharing between center and different units of federation has always been a topic of great importance in Pakistan. In a country, which was founded on the basis of a common ideology of Islam but itself is consisted of a diversified demography, adapting a centralized common system becomes a very tricky question.
The diversity in our society is not only in terms of culture, linguistics, races, life style and living standards but if we look at religion, diversity is their to a large extent despite us being an Islamic State and vast majority is Muslim. Not only religious diversity is there in the form of different religious minorities but within the majority Muslim population presence of different sects with range of conflicting issues have created many problems in terms of legislation and implementation of law.
Distribution of resources and authority to run their affairs has also seen its share of conflicts in our country. The biggest example is the fall of Dhaka when more than half of our population felt that their rights are not been given by the authorities controlling the center. Even after the fall of Dhaka smaller provinces have felt the similar feelings. This issue of provincial autonomy has always played an important part in the electoral politics of the country. Even if we see the current parliament, we can clearly see the strong provincial and ethnic color of our political base.
The history of our country shows that these demographic diversity and provincial autonomy issues are not tackled well by our mainly centralized system. Whether we see feudal-corporatist democratic periods or military dictatorships, the tensions between different communities and regions have increased over the time. This situation indicates us of adapting a different approach of running our affairs related to governance, legislation and economy which will not only cater the problems mentioned above but ensure a sustainable progressive path for our future. This type of system will require the loosening of grip by centralized power structure over our national affairs, in other words we need a decentralized governance, legislative and economic structure.
Decentralization of governance means a state gives majority of authority and control to the lower levels of administration for e.g. provinces and local bodies. In this the decision making process will be in a bottom-up model i.e. decisions are taken at the local and gradually passed on to the center and in most cases passing on to the center is not required. This type of governance model will ensure that governance decisions and structuring of institutions is done according to the needs of local requirements for e.g. policing system of Karachi may not work well in FATA and Dera-Bugti.
If we see in past several steps have been taken like setting up local bodies, establishing alternate policing structure in the form of FC or giving some departments to the provinces. But the main problems was and still is the upper hand of central government and flow of resources from center to the federation constituents. The big size of the government also plays a negative role in implementing decentralization of governance as we see several ministries and departments work where there is no requirement of government at all.
The other thing which we need to do is to decentralize the process of legislation. Even thought we are a dominant Muslim state but still our customs and cultures vary from area to area in our country. Also the presence of different religions, sects and social communities demands for a legislative system flexible and capable enough to cater the needs of regional and social diversity. This can be achieved by keeping the centralized common laws as minimum and delegate the legislative powers to regions and social communities. By giving legislative powers to social communities means law making related to a particular social community should be done by the representatives of those communities. Careful provisioning can be done to ensure basic human rights and conflicts of interest.
Now the issue will come of handling the situation where different people from different social and religious backgrounds are involved in a dispute. This can be done through social contracts between communities like “Meesaq e Madina”, empowering civil courts to resolve disputes based on social customs and some careful central legislation just to resolve disputes between different social communities can be made.
After governance and legislation, we see how we can run our economic affairs more efficiently and transparently. It is again an issue of great discussion in Pakistan whether the state should control the economy and run the institutions like steel mills, PIA itself or not. But if we look our history more than having the issue of it should or should not, the issue is the capability of the state of doing it. We have seen huge corruption scandals involving key government and establishment personalities being highlighted in media and taken up by courts. Most of the time the main reason behind other than greed is having too much discretionary powers. If we see many of these powers are a result of unnecessary state involvement and undesired regulations. All these not only lead to corruption but also result in economic loss as a result of inefficiencies created.
Therefore regulation, in areas other than where it is required to cater corruption and social benefits, should be removed and free market economy is needed to be promoted. The discretionary powers of licensing and quotas needed to be eliminated so that fair play can take place and more economic opportunities are created. Privatization is also a key element of decentralization of economy but it needs to be fair and transparent otherwise it will be counter productive and will result in more economic instability.
The two key steps we need to do to achieve decentralization and reap its benefits are strengthening the judiciary and to reduce the size of state. Strengthening judiciary is necessary in order to ensure smooth running of affairs between different federal constituents and social communities. In absence of a strong, independent and impartial judiciary we cannot expect any smooth running and harmony among different constituents of our country. Luckily through recent lawyers movement we have at least come to the point where a big portion of our society has realized the importance of having a strong and effective judicial system. The other thing which we need and as discussed above is reducing the size of our government. This is necessary to create more economic opportunities and more freedom.
If we look at the 18th amendment, the situation is not that promising. On one hand if they have dissolved the concurrent list, the parliament on the other hand has strengthened an unelected party head who will be in actual the ruling authority whether in center or in provinces. The biggest thing which happened in 18th amendment is weakening the judiciary and making them dependent on parliamentarians by forming judicial commissions and parliamentary review committee. This will not only pave way for corruption and lack of accountability but it will also endanger the rights of people not represented by the elected parliamentarians or not represented by the government as judiciary is supposed to be an institution safe guarding the basic human rights of all people including those who didn’t vote for the government or don’t give votes at all.
If we look at our history main challenge we face towards achieving decentralization is political will not the lack of capacity and resources. Our national politics is mainly dominated by our military establishment and feudal-corporatist political class who are mainly interested in having the tight grip over the country affairs, economic resources and political decision making. This totalitarian approach has given us nothing except for miseries and sense of deprivation and hopelessness for our people.
Even though slogans like provincial autonomy, provincial harmony, devolution of power have played key roles in country politics but not much in true sense has come out. Its high time for us to re-think our strategy as a nation and decide how we should proceed towards our future course in time. Decentralization is not only necessary for efficient and smooth running of our affairs but it will give more freedom, confidence and sense of ownership to our people.
- Faisal ur Rahman
18th amendment has made government more strong and more above the law. Now judiciary will be literally a subordinate institution of parliament and will be lead by the will of
plutocrats. Real bad part of this so called revival of 1973 constitution spirit is that they have further damaged the institution of judiciary and no curbs are put on corruption.
It doesn’t matter much who exercise the power , PM or President. The real things are transparency, accountability and rule of law which now seems to be further weakened.
Now judges will be appointed by a seven membered committee having only 3 serving judges and one retired judge appointed by government, rest of the members will be from government. The approval of the judges appointed by the committee will be approved by an 8 membered parliamentary committee having 4 members from and government and 4 from opposition.
Now the opposition will play give and take even on the issue of judges appointment, judges will be nominated by party heads.
No checks on corruption. They have only exploited slogans , no true decentralization of power.
I don’t know where the people who don’t like both opposition and government or don’t have their share in electing these corrupt feudal-corporatist will go?
We have been saying this regularly that military-feudal-corporatist are playing with our country, they don’t want to give up their control and treat everyone as equal in front of the law.
We need to continuously make efforts for freedom and justice.
We need RULE OF LAW!
We don’t need RULE OF A MAN or RULE OF ELITE.
Current plutocracy is no different than dictatorship. They, including feudal, corrupt corporatist and corrupt generals are all same.