Insanity is expecting different results from the same behaviours (Alcoholics Anonymous)

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Our core issue, now nearly a cliche, is good governance.

Good governance comes through people with competence and integrity and policies and processes which deliver it, especially processes and institutions which deliver public services, as well as hold public administrators, both political and administrative, accountable and answerable.

The most potent are our legislatures.

Our dilemma is that the pool from which our legislators are elected and chosen comprises corrupt and incompetent people.

Our electoral process recycles the same garbage over and over again.

Occasionally an urban voter makes a wise choice. Not the rural voter, victim and hostage to a baradari, feudal, tribal system of patronage.

Our only option is for a change in our electoral system and our form of government which allows competent people to occupy positions of policy making and governance at the highest levels.

Alcoholics anonymous, famously describes insanity as “expecting different results from the same behaviours (read same politicians and administrators)

Imran Khan will also have a tough time delivering good governance as he has to chose from the same gutter, when elected.

He may achieve some success in appointing honest and capable people to positions of authority in the key 24 or 25 public sector institutions and simultaeneously strengthening the institutions which hold the politicians and public servants, accountable. But a challenging task!

Long term, in my oponion, we have to change our electoral system and form of government, to allow people of integrity and competence into our legislatures and cabinet.

For the former a start is in a system of proportional representation which allows people of ability to get into our legislatures without going through the hustings.

Not ideal, because patronage will still play a part. But many good people will come in. Its like diluting a jug of dirty water with infusions of clean water till we have reasonably clean water.

No system is perfect. Our choice is to select the one whhich gives us the greatest chances of success!

For the cabinet, in my opinion, a Presidential system is far more aligned to our needs, where a directly elected President, and likewise elected Governors, can pick non elected, competent people to their cabinets.

This is similar to the USA model!

And whenever we tried it, under Ayub, Zia and Musharraf, unfortunately all Military dictators, we had the highest economic growth and relatively much better public service delivery.

The system was clearly effective, except it was tainted by authoritarianism and the many ills associated with it.

In a democratic Presidential setup with highly potent and effective institutions to hold leaders accountable, this system will flourish.

The election must cater to the smaller populations through a system of weighted average, ensuring an even playing field for the smaller provinces.

And to limit the influence of individuals, Presidential and Governor terms be limited to a maximum of two.

The question is how?

To me the only answer is either an overwhelming vote gor Imran to bring about these changes.

Or a recourse to the Supreme Court, under a fundamental rights constitutional petition, which states that the basic fundamental right of every citizen is to expect good governance and equitable opportunities of safety and security, healthcare, education and employment.

That this fundamental right is not available under our current system, hijacked by a small coterie of politicians.

That this has grossly weakened our institutions and the State resulting in an unhealthy imbalance of power amongst key institutions, especially the Army and the resultant conflict and Martial Laws.

The Supreme Court today, like it or not, under its CJ is, in my opinion, fighting a tremendous battle to rid this country of corruption and the politics of patronage.

But, I’m afraid, unless and until we have deep reform, all their efforts will go in vain, despite their best intentions.

My fear is if that if we do not change this system to ensure good governance and equitable opportunities for all, we will continue down our slippery slope to much greater anarchy.

We eill continue to be hijacked and held hostage by the likes of Nawaz Sharif and Zardari and the system and values they represent.

And God Forbid fall victim to the desires of our enemies. Within and without.

And Nawaz Sharif and Zardari are clearly ones, within

Pakistan cannot continue to afford the severe body blows of abject misgovernance and massive loot and plunder as manifested by the Sharif and Zardari regimes.

In a worse case scenario, we may even have another praetorian intervention, which in my opinion would be an unmitigated disaster, perhaps even fatal for Pakistan.

Therefore a vote for Imran, in my opinion, is really a vote for a change in our system and the hope and promise of better, brighter future for Pakistan.

No guarantees. But our best fighting chance!

*-Haider Mehdi*

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