Pakistan at the Crossroads (Editorial Dec 2014)

“What then is government? An intermediate body set up between the subjects and the Sovereign, to secure their mutual correspondence, charged with the execution of the laws and the maintenance of liberty, both civil and political.” | Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract)

Being a social contract by nature, a constitution is the submission of the state citizens in return to the provision and, of course, protection of their rights by the state. If the state, or more rightly the government, does not fulfil its duties, then citizens rise against it. All the noted philosophers, and political and social scientists have a consensus view that by this contract, the government promises to execute its trust faithfully, leaving to the people the right to rebel in case the government breaks the terms of the contract, or, in other words, violates the constitution. Such a situation brings political instability which takes its heavy toll on a country’s economy.

In Pakistan, this social contract had been violated by all the successive governments. Even at the present day, we see that inflation is soaring with every passing moment. Electricity — still scarce in Pakistan — oil and gas, water, food items and other commodities have gone beyond the reach of a common man. Country’s economy is sagging and poverty and unemployment are on the rise. The lives and properties of the citizens are no more safe. These factors are responsible of precarious law and order situation across the country. And people are fed up of all this.

Chapter 1 of the Constitution that consists of Articles 8 to 28, which enunciate the “Fundamental Rights” of all the citizens of the state, had long been held in abeyance. When compelled by an extreme poverty, people commit suicides or even sell their children, our rulers simply don’t care. If public enraged by the electricity overbilling takes to streets, a routine inquiry into the matter is ordered and that’s all. The visible distance between the rulers and the ruled bears testimony to this fact.

The Founders of Pakistan dreamed of a state where the welfare of the peoples shall be the core objective of all government policies. But, the glaring disparities in terms of education and health facilities, economic conditions, employment opportunities vividly depict that this dream is still unfulfilled.

Imran Khan’s ongoing sit-in at D-Chowk Islamabad and the mammoth gatherings held by opposition parties, like Dr Qadri’s PAT and Siraj-ul-Haq-led Jamaat-e-Islami, simply mean one thing: Pakistanis are sick of the system that denies them their due rights. Candidly, people are joining these protests not because of these leaders’ charisma only rather it’s because they feel that their issues have found a powerful voice.

But, as every cloud has a silver lining, so this popular sentiment of hatred against the government should be taken as an opportunity by our rulers. They should mend their ways and improve their governance style to fulfil all what people demand; and which they are entitled to according to the constitution. This won’t be possible with only the gimmicks the ministers have been, and are still, relying on. This is the twenty-first century and this is a more educated Pakistan than that of the 90s. Economic managers of the government must introduce radical reforms to make Pakistan a better place to live in.

This fact highlights the positive role of Pakistan’s bureaucratic sodality — the policy-implementing arm of the government. If the top hierarchy of various strata of our bureaucracy does its lawful duty with complete honesty and vigour, then there is no reason why the rampant corruption and mismanagement will go on unabated. Our officers are the servants of the state, not of some political bosses. They should protect the interests of the state at all costs.

It is also true that old habits die hard. But, here is the most crucial, probably defining, moment in our history. Our rulers as well as bureaucrats have to deliver to the best of their abilities. No other option is available to them now.

This paradigm shift is more than inevitable now.

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