By Sultan Mohammad
Pakistan is a nation of some 190 million persons, two third of which is the Youth. We are a hardworking nation with plenty of resilience and patience as was demonstrated during the famous 5 Oct 2005 Earthquake, when we were cited as a world role model by the UN, Swat Operation and more recent ongoing successful Operation Zarb-e-Azb in Waziristan. We are a very respected active member of UN, in particular our contributions in UN Human Rights Commission, UN Peacekeeping Force, and also for having provided refuge to 30 million Afghan Refugees for the past 35 years.
We enjoy four distinct seasons. We are lucky to have mountains, rivers, forests, and access to the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.
We have plenty of arable land with reasonable amount of regular annual rainfall mostly during July to September Monsoons and also during winter months due to Western Disturbances originating from Mediterranean Sea. We have a very large and well designed irrigation system. Consequently, we do produce sufficient food in terms of milk, meat, poultry, fish; grains, vegetables and fruits of a very large variety to feed our populace and some to export as well. We have among the best cotton to clothe our people and export a good part of it in raw and finished form. We have a very large and well spread out railway and road network, providing a reasonable structure for movement of men, materials and goods.
There is a huge wealth of minerals like Coal, Iron, Gold, Copper, Manganese, Marble, Granite, Uranium, Salt and very high quality Sand etc; but these still require to be fully exploited and utilized better.
We are a responsible nuclear power. We have a well trained and competent strong Army of some 600,000 soldiers, a well trained and tested, competent and experienced Air Force and Navy. Our ISI is a world class intelligence agency, which provides strength and stability to the nation. Many of our cadets have topped and won Sword Of Honour and other top awards at Royal Academy Sandhurst, UK.
Two Pakistanis have won Nobel Prize – a great honour….!
Edhi Foundation has nearly the Largest Ambulance organization in the World.
We have been on the top in the game of Squash in the world for almost continuous for 30-35 years. We have been the world Champions in Hockey winning in the Olympics, Hockey World Cup and Champions Trophy. In Cricket we won the World Cup in 1992 and have been Runners Up a few times.
Pakistan has done very respectably in Software Engineering and its export. Arifa Karim became the youngest Microsoft Qualified person at a young age of 9 and Bill Gates called her as ‘My Princess’. Many Pakistani young students have won International English Debates on a number of occasions. Our students have topped in the world in ‘Overall’ and in many Subjects in GEC ‘O’ level exam of Cambridge University.
In sum, if we try honestly, our country has a lot of potential to excel in many endeavours of human activity. But unfortunately, we have not had a continuity in our National Governance–because we have had Martial Law for some 30 years of our existence since our Independence on 14 Aug 47, and during the remaining period we have had different sets of inefficient and corrupt politicians, who destroyed Police and Bureaucracy thru their vested interference to promote their corruption and nepotism. As a result, our State has been bled white and enfeebled; further compounded by gradual rise of extremism, terrorism and sectarianism; with a super hostile Eastern Neighbour and a 13 years Afghan War in the west of us.
However, not to despair. We can build on our strength by identifying our problems and finding solutions to them in the shortest possible time, as discussed below in subsequent paragraphs.
Our Problems and some Solutions
Lack Of Continuity
Armed Forces have continued to be the most well trained, organized, disciplined and segment of the Government in the country, because there is Continuity–solely because regardless of changes in the Government and their own periodic internal Changes In Command at different levels, there is no change in their training, discipline and efficiency and progressive modernization of equipment etc goes on. They are isolated from the vissitudes of changes in the civil Government machinery.
But this is not the case in the case of Civil Servants.Let me narrate an anecdote first. In Oct 1958, as a Navigator on a PAF VVIP Aircraft, from Mauripur Base, we had gone to Jacob Abad Airfield (Sindh) to pick up the then Defence Minister. Soon after landing, at 06:00 AM, we were met by the local young Deputy Commissioner who offered us fresh ‘Lassi’ from an earthen Ghara (Pitcher). This had been prepared for the lassi lover Defence Minister. We were shocked and dazed by the discovery that the poor CSP folks , who had seen much better days earlier, had come down so much in prestige and respect due to such feudal politicians…..! As can be seen, the Civilian Bureaucracy has been ruined due to political horrendous interference. It has rendered it demoralized and inefficient, despite being the pick of the crop of the well/highly educated national youth and talent from the entire country and from best of the Academic Institutions. By and large, they enter on competitive merit thru hard testing, interviews and final selection The same is true about the Police Hierarchy in the country, which too has been made partial, politicized, inefficient and corrupt. Judiciary was also gradually made corrupt, lazy and inefficient–particularly the lower one. The old Urdu saying: ” mein ne tau wakeel ki bajaay judge kar lia hai” says it all…..! Translated in English, it means that ‘ I have hired a Judge instead of a Lawyer’……!
We need to make the Civil Bureaucracy (this includes Customs/Taxation/Education/Health etc), Police Force and Judiciary totally free from the shackles and influence of the Political Bosses, as it was at the dawn of the Partition..! They should not be approachable to the Politicians, just like a PAF Base (and so also Army/Naval Establishments) is/are not open to any unauthorized outsiders, regardless of their position, status or wealth etc.
If this happens, we shall develop continuity in Government Administration and Justice Machinery. Then the public at large shall heave a sigh of relief and almost half their major problems shall begin to get solved.
During the days of Ayub Khan, we had introduced ‘Five Years Development’ programmes which helped the country to make vast strides in the development of
Agriculture, Industry and other Infrastructure projects. But unfortunately, subsequent Governments did not continue with this process, and even Projects planned, funded and started by a Govt have been suspended by subsequent Govt, thus causing public frustration and wastage of money of the poor citizens. In 1975-78, I personally witnessed electric poles purchased by a Govt in Badin Area, remained lying on the ground for years, because next one did not want them to be erected and wires strung and energized by live power. Somehow, I was instrument in getting one such line completed and energized. Therefore, there is a very distinct need to make sure that Projects initiated by a Govt are continued by the subsequent one, so that the public funds invested into them are not wasted.
In conclusion, it is clear that there is need to do the necessary legislation and/or amend any existing ones to achieve the above stated objectives as under:
. Civil Bureaucracy, Police and Judiciary should be made free from any interference by Politicians.
. All Development Projects once funded for and initiated must have constitutional protection for its continuance, so that there is no wastage of people’s’ money.
Insufficient National Integration
There are four distinctly different nationalities in Pakistan. All four have their own languages, which generate natural fissiparous tendencies. It is not a very easy job to keep them blended together, unless seamless appropriate steps are taken constantly thru mutual respect and consultation and accommodation.
Politically, we have nearly autonomous Provinces, as this helps to look after the local Provincial problems effectively and to attend to the genuine grievances of the Provinces. But practically, it runs counter to the desire of keeping the Federation integrated. As per the 1973 Constitution, there is a Council Of Common Interest, which is supposed to attend to this issue among other matters . But it meets so infrequently and that too symbolically. Therefore, our national integration is somewhat loosely hinged. It needs to be firmed up in a more coherent way. There is a dire need for a full fledged Ministry Of National Integration. Its responsibility should first of all be to protect the National Identity i.e. the very basis of Pakistan, the strengthening of the Two Nation Concept, the love for the National Flag, the importance of learning to read and write Urdu–and above all take pride in being able to use the National Language. In USA and Canada one can see the National Flag in front of many homes all year round. Why can we not do the same at Govt Offices, homes, educational institutions and corporate offices etc. All proud countries take pride in speaking their language at home and abroad like Arabs, Iranians, Indians, Bangladeshis, Ceylonese, Afghans, Indonesians, Turks, French, Germans, Italians, Japanese, Chinese, Koreans; and even Sikhs speak their Punjabi and try to keep and maintain their social way of life, when abroad. But on the contrary, we Pakistanis feel proud in NOT knowing or speaking Urdu, Indeed even within Pakistan educated parents feel extra pleasure in saying that their children do not know Urdu. Consequently, the kids of most of the upper crust perform quite poorly in this Compulsory Subject in schools. This subject requires aggressive drive and pursuit.
Nothing can produce better national integration than social mixing and mingling and knowing the language and customs/habits/folklore of some other Province. A few steps may help. For example every year 200 students of higher secondary education from their own Province should travel to another Province by train at half fare; and interact with students of the other Province for a period of 15-20 days during Summer Break. A similar activity for Teachers of Universities could be introduced. In United Pakistan, there used to be a practice that spouses of officers of Joint Secretary and equivalent were allowed to travel to the other Wing at Government expense, so that they could socially interact with their counterparts in that Wing of the country. We need to restart this again between Provinces.
We need one Syllabus for all schools in the country, so that everyone is on the same grid of understanding in life. The older generation of Undivided India certainly knows about the well known expression, because the same English Primers were used throughout India, to my knowledge: ” Late Latif”, about the kid who was always late to reach anywhere…..