Gen Qamar Bajwa on the Economy.- A way out?

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

I think this may be the beginning of a move to build public opinion for a possible interim arrangement to try and stop the bleeding and improve governance!

But if this process hasn’t been very deeply thought through and rigorously war gamed to the “nth” degree, evaluating all eventualities and counter measures, such an arrangement will ultimately leave the system even worse then it currently is.

While it is clear that we are currently heading for a train wreck and that must be averted, what we don’t want is a bigger train wreck, later.

Our short history is replete with how well intentioned interventions turned into monumental disasters for the country.

In my humble opinion, the short term solution still lies in strengthening the judiciary, building public opinion, supporting the agents of change like Imran, reformulating and strengthening the Election Commission with people of integrity and competence and hoping in a fair and free elections we will get relatively better people into governance. I’m not so sure this is a long term solution because long term the solution lies elsewhere.

I believe, the long term answer really lies in a complete overhaul of our Constitution and our electoral and governance processes.

There doesn’t appear to be a way in which the basic structure of  current constitution can be amended or changed.

I’m not sure if the current National  Assembly and Senate can even change this basic structure of the Constitution.

And even if they could, why on earth would they legislate amendments and sign their own death warrants?

Therefore the only option to somebody like me appears to be a Supreme Court directive on a petition of fundamental rights to seek a mandate of the people through something like a referendum, for a major overhaul of our constitution especially our electoral and governance models to get the right kind of people into positions of governance.

This could lead to a body which would do what the Assembly did in 1973.

Let us remember that in 45 years since Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto we’ve had 25 years of civilian rule and 20 years of Martial Law and this form of parliamentary democracy hasn’t worked for us.

Hence a major  change to the system is required to allow better  “inputs”. The inputs being the kind of people who reach positions of public governance, power and authority.

This to me and all others who understand governance is the “simple-mentation” solution.

Hence some of the broad but key parameters of such an overhaul are or could be.

1.Directly elected chief executive. President and Governors so that there is one Chief Executive and a maximum two term, 4 year limit per term, to ensure fresh thinking.

2. More provinces. 17 to 28. So that the hold of a dominant Punjab over other provinces is broken. The tragedy of allocating nearly Rs. 200 billion for four large massive metro and train infrastructure projects vs investing in health and education or law and order, is perhaps the most stark symbol of how taxpayers money was hijacked and looted by a single individual, the CM of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif and deployed at his and his brother’s whims.

3. Elections to 50% seats on proportional representation and not first past the post so that every vote counts and parties are able to induct technocrats, experts and specialists into the assemblies for improved and quality legislation.

4. Non elected people can be appointed to cabinet posts so that subject matter expertise drives policy making in governance.

But in doing all this, and while it’s under process, one thing is of paramount importance. An administrative infrastructure which doesn’t disenfranchise the people.

I say this because the biggest downside of a Technocrat or Martial Law type intervention is that they take away, what little access the poor and marginalized communities and segments have to government services, which is provided by the local elected MNA or MPA, however corrupt they may be.

So if there is a need for an interim solution to stem the rot, our Local Governments must continue to function with more empowerment and more delegated administrative and financial powers so that the common citizen continues to have access to government.

But let’s not forget that any attempts to rebuild the system will be attacked with full force by Nawaz Sharif and his henchmen. The likes of Ahsan Iqbal at one end and Capt. Safdar at the other. All evil creatures cut from the same cloth.

Nawaz is a wounded fox, not mortally, but serious enough to realize his time maybe up and on his desperation to survive, still capable of mad destruction around him, including Pakistan. A person who was willing to meet an Indian interlocutor without any aides is not someone who can be trusted.

I had suggested in an earlier piece that he will do anything and everything to survive. Hitting at our fault lines. Sectarian. Religious. Ethnic. Provincial. Political. Social. Cultural. Institutional. The first and last most serious.

Pitting state institutions against each other. And attempting to  weaken and defang them. The Supreme Court and the Army being in his cross hairs as prime targets. And now in plain sight for all to see.

And only for two objectives.

1. To save his financial capital.
2. To save his political capital.

And in that order of priority.

He knows that if he’s convicted and sentenced for money laundering, amongst other charges, his entire financial assets, inside or outside Pakistan,  whether in his name his wife or children will be frozen.

This takes away his biggest weapon, his wealth.  Without his wealth he’s just another, has been.

Without his wealth and jail term, he’s totally stripped naked. And his party breaks up, as most fly to other coops.

And for this he’s willing to bring down Pakistan and unleash terror and mayhem, hoping to invite a military takeover.

This will allow him to take the position with countries where his wealth and assets and properties and bank accounts reside that his convictions are politically motivated and hence his assets should not be frozen.

This is, in a nutshell, his game plan for survival. Destroy the country but save his wealth!

This is, in a nutshell, his game plan for survival. Destroy the country but save his wealth!

It is in all this context that we must view Capt. Safdar’s vile comments about the Ahmediyya Muslims.

Some may disagree, but I have a personal position on this.  As I’ve said earlier, in all the Scripture that I’ve read and all the insights from Islamic scholars, it is certainly clear to me that no one can declare any person or sect a non Muslim, as long as they maintain and say that they are.

The fact that very few other Muslim majority country, other then Pakistan,  have passed similar legislation is in itself something to reflect upon.

I may personally have differences with the belief frameworks of others but it doesn’t give me the right to judge them.

I’m not venturing into a theological debate about who is and who isn’t a Muslim.  Butif we start witch hunting people on the basis of their religious beliefs then we will unleash a massive storm of violence and murder in Pakistan.

Who next? The Shias? The Barelvi against the Deobandis?Christians? Hindus?

And just for the record. The young Captain of 1 Punjab who with his troops, guarding GHQ and Gen. Zia and his Commanders deliberating the consequences of their actions, on that fateful night of 5th July 1977, was an Ahmedi.

And this same Captain continued to provide personal security to Gen. Zia for the next few weeks.

And of course Gen. Zia knew he was an Ahmedi. Because the same Officer having been earlier posted out of 1 Punjab, then on Presidential Guard duties when Bhutto was in power, for being one, was posted back to his unit under Gen. Zia’s express and direct orders.

Such was and hopefully still is the ethos of our Army. It does not discriminate.

But what this insane Sharif stud did in the National Assembly was total insanity and crazy crap which only an evil mind like Nawaz could conjure up and use his son in law, to fire the first public salvo.

If we allow these demons to unleash their evil, as Nawaz wants, we will put the Nazis to shame and make Syria and Iraq look like a walk in the park.

But the issue is why did this person make such a vile speech?

Why was it broadcast fully and live by PTV?

To me and to many others, first and foremost it was a direct attack on Gen. Bajwa to cast aspersions on his religious credentials and weaken his authority and credibility as Army Chief.

Nothing could be more disastrous for Pakistan to use a religious card to destroy the credibility of an Army Chief. Imagine the terrible consequences of such an evil thought, if allowed to flourish.

This is a new low in politics that we’ve not seen before.

The second is to incite hatred and violence and public unrest so that the Army intervenes and Nawaz gets a reprieve.

While the PM and Ahsan Iqbal have come out with limp statements, as limp as their spines and their conscience and morality, the attempt to cause damage is quite clear.

On another note. A trifle below the belt but nevertheless important to bring out.

Capt. Safdar Hudood should be very careful what he says when he pretends to take the high moral and religious ground.

Let him be reminded that there’s enough circumstantial evidence  to convict him and his wife for acts falling under the Hudood ordinance which he so vociferously also advocates. A law that I personally have huge issues with.

Beware Capt. Safdar Hudood and Maryam Hudood, for throwing stones while sitting in your very flimsy glass houses. You both are  skating on extremely thin ice.

Such are the dogs of war and evil that Nawaz Sharif and his cronies have unleashed on Pakistan to save his wealth and his political future and in that order.

For him and his associates, Pakistan is secondary and only a means to more wealth and power.

Otherwise why would they have misgoverned, raped, plundered and pillaged this country as their spoils of war in the manner that they’ve done and continue to do?

This we must understand.

Especially those who still support him and his evil.

And more importantly those who sit on the fence and hope somehow, as if by magic, things will sort themselves out!

Remember. Insanity is expecting different results from the same behaviours. It’s Garbage in – Garbage out.

If we don’t change the “inputs”, that is, the quality of people, who represent us and govern the country, we will continue to recycle this garbage called Nawaz Sharif, Zaradari et al under the current system and back to the stench and vomit which exists today!

-Haider Mehdi

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