Dr. Tahseen Mahmood Aslam looks at the ever-increasing governance problems
Pakistan badly suffers from a lack of harmony in its governance. It is often observed that the multiplicity of governance centers ultimately results in the dissipation of effective governance issues in Pakistan and a point is soon reached where no one center is able to effectively enforce its writ on the country. Pakistan has practically reached that stage as is evident by the fact that multiple large and even small groups are now able to challenge the writ of the state and get away with it.
The threat that seemed remote just a few years ago of a protesting group arousing public agitating in the country and creating unrest with a view to toppling an incumbent government has now been transformed into a well-organized smaller group taking over a strategic location of the capital and compelling the government to buckle down to its knees simply because the such group would be the so-called ‘state asset’.
This complexity has now become so commonplace that every odd agitational action is placed at the doorstep of the so-called establishment such as the recent march of the disgruntled agriculturists and one can clearly see that there is no way they can consistently keep on issuing denials after denials as such insinuation will keep on cropping up.
But the point to ponder is that why such short-sighted policies were adopted in the first place and even when they backfired why were they adhered to? This goes against the grain of a rational mindset well versed in the intricacies of action and reaction and trained to avoid untoward situations. Despite such orientation and training, the fact is that this unfortunate self-defeating cycle has become the way of life in Pakistan that has rocked the normal functioning of the country.
The consistent upheaval caused by the clash of wills is not only unbalancing the social equilibrium in the country but it has also adversely affected the economic aspect directly impacting the lives of millions of Pakistanis. Apparently, the quarreling stakeholders are oblivious to the spurious effects of their internecine squabbles and never shun the issues that suit them best to the detriment of national life. The result is the practical breakdown of governance issues in Pakistan in the country which is indeed very worrying.
The most galling aspect of this whole exercise is that it does not pertain to the failure of the incumbent government in respect of nationally important strategic issues but just about the placement of a few individuals in key positions and preventing some from them. This exercise also brings to the fore the sad fact of present times that no elected civilian head of the government has been allowed to complete their respective tenures of office.
This dubious distinction is associated only with this high office whereas other high offices of the state not only prematurely interfered with but even enjoy extensions given in tenures of their holders. No one takes cognizance of the fact that no country in the world is held hostage by a single appointment as Pakistan and no single assignment of the state hierarchy holds key to the future of the country. The message conveyed by the rumpus created by the current hullabaloo over this issue speaks volumes about the extremely fractured governance issues in Pakistan system of the government that even the establishment of the country cannot heal.
Failure Of Governance
This sorry state of affairs reflects the abject failure of governance in the country that has resulted in endemic political instability. This unfortunate tendency has relegated the essential job of providing much-needed economic sustenance to the people to the perpetual backburner with no one apparently bothered about the painful state they exist in. Such political instability certainly suits the ruling elite’s privileges and holds on power but at the expense of the welfare of the unfortunate millions.
The consistent turmoil has also negatively affected the country’s ability to weather global and regional geopolitical storms and this failure has given rise to the fragility of the state apparatus ending in emaciating Pakistan. On the contrary, the impression conveyed is that the influential segment controlling the country earnestly prefers perpetuating a permanent crisis of governance issues in Pakistan as it suits them to hold all relevant cards but somehow it has also lost control eventually and is also swinging with the wind.
Their discomfiture is clearly visible and they are apparently left with no recourse but to wait to be content with whatever the future has in store for them. This state of affairs gives an impression of a vast gap between the modern state and traditional society, between institutional design and practice, and between Western governance issues in Pakistanpractices and Islamic frames of authority. For the perpetrators of such policy, however, the chaos generated by it proves constructive as it can freely use to its advantage though on the broader national level it has consistently proved to be destructive and extremely restrictive. If viewed in the light of the fact that all politics is about conflict then the Pakistani arbitrary forces consider it to be kosher and workable.
Pakistani Decisive Forces
The decisive forces in Pakistani devise specific contentious points and then dwell on carving out the policies heavily laced with an inbred contention that will finally provide them chances to arbitrate thereby strengthening their bargaining position. They willfully avoid the fact that by following such a self-serving course of action they are determining the evolution of the country and that too on a wrong and convoluted basis.
The high-handed situation created by the arbitrary forces has resulted in a bifocal nature of state authority representing opposing outlooks, visions, worldviews, and policy orientations. It falls to a lot of the middle class to press for making national interest supreme but the self-absorbed arbitrary political class’s ideas and practices invariably highlight and served the public interest and that too is determined exclusively by it.
This conflict is at the core of the incessant conflict in the perceptive and practical aspects of the country. Over the years it has been amply witnessed that the arbitrary political forces have tried to promote, support, and impose their preferred leadership through the electoral process denuding the country of genuine public representatives. The country has a long and unfortunate history of rampant manipulation of the electoral process that has completely lost its meaningful utility. What has now emerged is the establishment’s preference for client parties contributed enormously to a weak and vulnerable party system in Pakistan.
This arbitrary attitude has created multiple faultlines in the country and has become overly cynical providing a sweeping view that accords the establishment more controlling power over the political system than is merited. The obvious outcome is hampering democracy with people fast losing faith in it. It is often observed in the context of Pakistan that while the constitutional tradition has been too weak to stop military takeovers, it has been too strong to allow generals to rule in their own name for a long. This is a strong wake-up call for all advocates of civilian democratic elements in the country. The Weekender