By: Raqeeb Kakar
Need for introspection before casting the vote
Come forward, share your opinion. It is to establish an idea (though models and narratives are state-owned). Get slammed for the presentation proffered and surely whittle down living in a bubble. Mao Zedong likely emphasises, “You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.” Surely, freedom of speech is a flamboyant chant until individually optimised.
Media, in all its forms, is believed to be a planned podium for putting forward a constructive and positive standpoint. Instantaneously, an idea one presenting is: people in a country of 207 million can have a forward-looking future the day they riposte slogans of political parties with those of their own or of public importance. Such as some fittingly counterbalanced public catchwords may be health, water and education to bread, cloth and shelter, honour the court to honour the vote, changing mindset to changing Pakistan and all the rest of it. Here comes a peaceful protest against the so-called promises reneged by the ruling classes.
Another spunk-hoisting idea that is often confabulated, the most acute, civil military relations. It is high time debates on such subjects chucked out and public-parliament liaison filled the vacuum. Surely, this shift is possible if the will to change is born.
There still lies a more important idea on the table that nature has been too unjust to us. It frequently sends unborn scientists, journalists, doctors, engineers, bureaucrats and, contrarily, we only receive born politicians or leaders. It is not contentious to say that party leadership is hereditary here in Pakistan. The PPP and the PML(N) are making the case stronger. Hardly a light stricture is made on this mode of leadership. The point leads one to believe that there is a monopoly of some on the fate of the rest.
Tailing the idea one can independently assert that to do away with born rules, simply tag them as secondhand politicians, demagogues or gamblers of public interests. Thus, an entitled status is worth millions.
Ideas are galore to scupper a reader’s involvement. Let’s pinpoint some gung ho predictions about the approaching elections: turnout this time will reach a record high, there will be historic victories and defeats, they will be remembered for decades and a lot more. Shortly, a layman still worries that transparency in our elections is light years distant from us. As much as the days to ballot approach, the qualms of millions of voters get firmer in the hoopla that road to premiership is paved by aliens.
Totality of democratic deficit enters the picture every now and then in party politics here. Changing-the-party behaviour on the part of politicians is the worst case scenario in today’s politics. Changing loyalty from one political party to another implies morphing the ideology of one’s career threshold.
More importantly, the turncoats hijack secret policies and election manifestos which are the vote-winning infrastructure of the platforms they departed. This gamesmanship, directly or indirectly, manipulates the election campaigns of the affected parties. Sheepish of foul practitioners is the changing of sides.
Interim setup, itself a grandstanding and a lazy business, is a dispiritingly boring form of government. In advanced democracies the world over, transfer of power happens from one government or administration to the next after the completion of the former’s term. United States of America has a winning model of elections in terms of electioneering, voting, taking the office, etc.; all on fixed days and dates. As for the widening rift on finalising the names for provincial chief ministers, label us people dithered about democratic behaviour. The question is: will the sun of loose democracy set after 2018 elections?
It is not hyperbolic to suggest that spruced up parliament and cabinet treading Canadian way of governing can tellingly let Pakistanis chuffed of their system ahead. There is no power to raise a parliament but a public will – the will to be well-governed.
In this very boiling election season, when everyone is sleeves up, the ball is in the people’s court. It is finally 105 million registered and constitutionally authorised voters who are to defeat the hoodwinked political landscape.
Belonging to the camp of well-wishers of a peaceful Pakistan, one hopes the forthcoming elections be a turning point for a rising Pakistan. Because, this time, people have to either vote for poverty by promoting extractive institutions or vote for prosperity by promoting inclusive institutions. Both of these patterns have been chalked out by Acemoglu and Robinson in order to aware us of the failure and success of nations in ‘Why Nations Fail’.
In the final analysis, a line suffices to tell 105 millions “Your turnout to polls is the key.” Or George Jean Nathan is right to say, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” It is the most shameful voting behaviour of our people that there is normally hardly 50 percent turnout. And, of course, by so doing, the candidates who we do not want to win, actually win. After all, masses are driving forces to make democracy win and candidates carry the day.
Election manifestos and higher education
By: Muhammad Murtaza Noor
Recently, in connection with general elections 2018, Working Group on Higher Education Reforms, a think tank comprising higher education experts, and Inter-University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences, an autonomous alliance of more than 35 Pakistani universities, in collaboration with Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association and other ten organisations, prepared an 18-point agenda aimed at reforming higher education sector in Pakistan for consideration of political parties.
The agenda emphasises over merit-based, transparent appointments of heads of universities through independent academic search committees comprising eminent academicians, discouraging ad-hocism and extension culture in higher education sector, effective implementation of the 18th Constitutional Amendment and decision of Council of Common Interests (CCI) regarding higher education sector, allocation of 4 percent of GDP for overall education sector and 25 percent of total allocated budget of education for higher education sector, promoting quality of teaching and research, ensuring autonomy of universities and academic freedom at university campuses, formulation of Syndicates/Senates/BOGs on modern principles of governance of universities keeping a balance between internal and external members, restoration of student unions at higher education institutions and ensuring effective representation of elected representatives of faculty in statutory bodies i.e University syndicate, senate, academic council, etc, promoting peace, tolerance, culture of dialogue and coexistence at university campuses through strengthening student societies and paying special attention to Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities, inclusion of stakeholders in policy formulation in higher education sector, independent assessment/evaluation of various higher education policies/programmes, development of road maps for strengthening higher education both at national and provincial levels, initiating special programmes for improving position of Pakistani universities in international and regional university rankings through declaring top Pakistani universities as flagship institutions, separation of functions of quality assurance, funding, regulatory framework and ranking both at national and provincial levels, ensuring maximum investment over university faculty through provision of scholarships and training opportunities, extending maximum age of retirement of university faculty from 60 to 65 years and 75 percent tax rebate for university faculty/researchers as per joint resolution of the Senate of Pakistan, strengthening federal and provincial higher education bodies as supportive and facilitator entities through ensuring autonomy and increased budgetary allocations, devising policy for employment/ placement of unemployed PhDs, encouraging skill- and technology-based learning through establishing community colleges and technology universities through foreign collaborations, balanced development approach across academic disciplines, promoting access to higher education with optimum utilisation of public resources and expanding/supporting private sector for establishing new institutions along with strengthening the existing ones without compromising over quality and serious follow up on effective utilisation of public funds through effective monitoring and evaluation at both national and provincial levels to ensure that higher education goals are being pursued vigorously.