Rameez Ansari expresses doubts about Need for introspection
The Democratic Need for introspection political forces need to review and analyze the negative effects of the changes that are witnessed in their behavioural patterns as a result of intermittent military interventions. This review has made it essential to do it in alliance with economic considerations for the country. There is hardly any doubt that military interventions not only rattled the fabric of political parties and created schisms within them but they also laid the basis of economic perceptions that have not yielded satisfactory results. The end-result is the current socio-economic chaos that is causing tremendous hardship for the people of the country.
The current state of affairs in the country has made it explicitly clear that the entire national fabric is at loggerheads and at the centre of it all is the establishment that is primarily responsible for the chaotic situation and it is hindering the task assigned to the incumbent political dispensation to govern with the result that although it is not the only agency responsible for creating national friction but it cannot come clean on many aspects either. The first aspect of the apparent failure of governance is that, despite under constant siege since their tenures, successive governments conveniently ignored that a democratic dispensation is always under threat of a hostile takeover by rival political groupings remaining within the ambit of democracy but in Pakistan it is the democracy itself that faces existential danger and that it is vital to keep anti-democratic forces in check.
The repeated military takeovers have polluted democratic forces with three vital venoms; the unreliability of political associates, distrust of political alliances and a tendency in democratic leadership to emphasise on personality cult. They also have to face the consequences of a damaged federal process of national cohesion as currently the country is devoid of a political grouping capable of winning a nationwide mandate. The arbitrary rule in the country has badly dented the interdependence matrix of civil democratic groupings both within and outside of them. Such takeovers have adversely affected the confidence levels of leaderships of democratic parties and have filled them with profound sense of unreliability about their ability to govern. Though the political groupings were kept under duress for long yet, to their credit, they have always succeeded to regroup, challenge the arbitrary regimes and win power through collective efforts.
The civilian political elements gradually closed the loopholes exploited by the military to oust them but, after gaining power, singularly failed to keep their own houses in order simply because their leaderships insisted on exercising arbitrary control on their parties. Since after the implementation of anti-defection clause the party leaderships behaved tyrannically towards the rank and file of their parties and complained bitterly against any dissension voiced inside it. In the process the parties created a slavish cadre that proved ineffective while in power and toothless without it. Such a situation gave rise to a profound atmosphere of intrigue and counter-intrigue that directly benefitted the anti-democratic forces.
In this context it is required to be conceded that party leaderships had to undergo hardships during the course of political turmoil facing imprisonment, isolation and exile whereas their turncoat colleagues prospered through treachery but then it must be realized that, in most instances, it were the over-centralised and personlised policies of ruling party leaderships that resulted in loss of power and exposed them to travails. Even in the current scenario it could be witnessed that the extremity of the conduct of party leaderships swung like a pendulum by initially co-opting electables from all walks of political spectrum and then isolating them in return through centralised and aloof behaviour. In the annals of democratic political exercise of power it is very clear to observe party leaderships denying all chances of advancement to their colleagues. It is worrying to observe that even the small coterie of advisers is chosen on personal likes and dislikes and that too is kept on tenterhooks under constant harassment of falling out of favour. In wake of the hazards faced by political groupings it has become essential to discard the inward isolation process followed in the past and it should be replaced with a collegial method allowing all strata of political parties to play their role.
On the other hand it is widely recognised now that the externally guided economic development has proved very ineffective in the country. It has failed to provide the much needed impetus to the indigenous elements that are required to be put on the path of self-reliance instead of expecting foreign economic ideas and assistance to grow into productive units of the polity. The pattern of relying on external counsel in programme loans prescribing good governance and project loans advocating changes to rail, road and energy infrastructure has not produced the desired results. The very fact that the country leaning on outside resources to give credence to documents like the recent flood assessment or while drafting its laws to meet global standards has retarded development instead of harnessing it. This factor also highlights the ultimate reality that economic development cannot be imposed through a prescription from outside.
Many observers point out that outsourcing research and policy matters to external experts has not been a successful formula as Pakistan has failed to devise proper capital gains or inter-generational wealth transfer mechanisms. Almost all reforms suggested by external experts in respect of the country’s revenue and financial outfits have remained either unsuccessful or have produced minimal outcome. This kind of application is focused on achieving near-term programmed goals rather than a meaningful structural change in the economy. This particular inability compels Pakistan to knock at the door of IMF and cajole friendly countries to bail it out of economic difficulties. While acknowledging that proper technical input is required yet it does not absolve a country of its own responsibility to build in-house professional competence in key areas like finance, revenue, energy, privatisation and investment and clearly Pakistan scores very badly in them.
What has happened in Pakistan is that overreaching reliance on external factors have brought about a fundamental flaw as it has deprived the local personnel with adequate exposure, downgraded their skills and repressed indigenous expertise. The country therefore now faces waning capability and a low absorption capacity that have be¬¬come core reasons for poor economic governance at all tiers. Pakistan needs to roll out a fresh paradigm laden with a structure having local economic understanding and the ability to operate within the indigenous economic borders. The workforce of the country must build multidisciplinary expertise within the country with a view to become self-sufficient in all economic aspects. The changed attitude must be focused on economic self-sufficiency and self-reliance with a view to remain within its means and devising a living pattern corresponding to such ideals.
The ruling dispensations should encourage more public-private partnerships and provide more freedom to the private sector and allow it to participate more in the economic management. It must be kept in view that liaising with the private sector should contain substantially more than the hackneyed issues of subsidy and distortionary utility pricing. It is required that both public and private sectors need to operate within the local parameters for achieving good economic results. TW