The Road Less Travelled By Our Leaders Part 2

Continuing from the first part of this article, let us move further on to points 4, 5 and 7.

Forget comparing his tenure with his predecessors. The statistics speak for themselves, the level of corruption this year is exactly the same level when Musharraf took charge of the country. Corruption is still at its peak while law and order are still on vacation. If you pick up the Dawn’s December 24th edition, you will read that cell phone thefts have gone up 60 percent. Other alarming news that can be read about, are numerous cases of land-grabbing, women being raped on a daily basis and the boom in the drug business. Though they exist, there is no effective judiciary or police present in Pakistan. These are the very same civil services that are supposed to be the country’s so called vanguard. I say nothing could be more important for a country than law and order. If the country could allow Bhutto to be hanged who at different times happened to be the Prime Minister and President of Pakistan, why I ask you, has that not happened to anyone else who has committed far more heinous crimes?

In my opinion, if you are sitting in the driver’s seat (not literally) you cannot focus on just one sector. Development and progress must be happening simultaneously but if you are going put all your eggs in one basket, it should have definitely been in law and order. It makes perfect sense for Musharraf to have addressed this first after his famous ‘bloodless’ coup. If he gave the command that no one should be killed in the takeover process, in order to give a good impression to the public; I think people would have been more impressed with a bloodless reign.

Rishwat, Rishwat and Rishwat is all I hear and see. Break a signal? “Here’s 100 rupees buddy, enjoy your naashta“, Caught talking on your Nokia 10000 while driving? “Here’s 500 rupees, I gotta go yo, there’s a GT at Nadia Coffee Shop“, Want to get your road fixed because some “professional construction” in the neighborhood hampered it? Rishwat. Oh by the way this is nothing. Let me show you just how deadly red tape and corruption really are, especially when they work together.

The ‘thaanas’ in Pakistan are rented out, which are exactly where prostitute dens exist and operate. Drugs such as Cocaine, Opium, Heroin and now as of this summer, Methamphetamine (yes we’re talking about it right here in good old PK) all pass through the watchful eyes of the pawns in charge of these so called thaanas. Apart from renting out, thaanas are also on sale for posts. Officers pay to get posted to a particular thaana, once they get posted to their desired thaana (if they have enough money to do so) then they have to make back their money plus profit. Why? Well it’s pretty much a business if you think about it, plus they too have to keep an eye out for everything in the end because they are going to make some commission off the shipments passing through. What do they care about what is being supplied to the public? It’s not like they’re getting paid well? Same problem exists within the Judiciary. Thank your lucky stars if you have never gone to court in Pakistan. Cases take a whole lifetime for most people to be brought forward in court, who knows when a sentence will be passed and that too in a just manner. Now let’s connect the two together.

Imagine some poor man’s son for some random reason in a normal encounter with the police, didn’t come off on their good side. They write up an FIR with his name saying he killed someone (which they probably did). Now he cannot pay them off. He doesn’t live in Defence nor does he own the plot across his villa hosting a pseudo-zoo with a 6 feet tall cow from Australia. So what happens to him? He gets thrown where? You got it right! The pit of hell I was talking about earlier, ThaanaCentral where he will probably be beaten, tortured (think of the movie Hostel here) or maybe if his fate is really bad he will be gang raped. Yes, men get raped too but you cannot really blame the police cronies beating him to a pulp; do you know how expensive anger management therapy is these days?

Ok enough with the gory details” you say, “Nothing can really be done bout it.” someone else will say. I beg to differ. What should be done now and what should have been done when Musharraf came into power seven years ago, is that instead of giving retired generals etc., control of various companies and government organizations, they should have been placed in the police. What are you talking about? Why in the police? What’s wrong with their current postings? Aren’t the army officials in those posts better than politically affiliated officials? Due to nepotistic traditions, there are more army officials in civilian posts than civilians and secondly, they don’t know enough about those professions or how to run those institutions efficiently. Flashback to the summer when the underpass was flooded, if you passed by on the right day, you would have seen a two star general on foot, walking around and pointing his finger to build a sand hill. Afterwards, the water was not removed; it was pushed to the other side of that hill. Now you tell me, shouldn’t engineers etc. been there instead of person who has nothing to do with its construction. Where in the world would you see such a sight? Nowhere should be your answer.

Now let us discuss the notion that army officials should actually be posted into the police. For those retired officials to be posted at, police is a relatively similar profession. The transition would be relatively smooth and the task fairly easier with regards to serving in the army. The current police personnel would be shaking in their boots because they would know that the incoming retired army officials would be reporting eventually to Musharraf, which meant they would have to be vigilant and on their best behavior. Look at the traffic police, when you need them the most (when the electricity goes and there is complete chaos on the roads) not a single officer is in sight but the moment the Prime Minister happens to be visiting your city; you will see eight of them on just one signal, all taking turns to control the flow of traffic. This is just preposterous.

Secondly, pay the police as much as the bureaucrats and the same thing goes for the judges but I’m not talking about bribery here. I’m talking about their actual pay. You cannot expect people who do not earn enough to support themselves, let alone their family, to follow the law and do their job honestly. Accountability and responsibility go hand in hand. So yes do pay them well but if they don’t do their jobs, send them to jail or hang them under exceptional cases. Let the people know what happens when you break the law and it does not matter what your job was, who you knew or what socioeconomic class you came from. People will remember and if implemented accurately, the only form of fear you would really be instilling into everyone is the fear of breaking the law. I think that is a fair trade and if you ask me I do not think people will be afraid, they will pretty much start respecting and honoring the law. Fire majority of the old and unfit officers that are high in the hierarchy because ‘the fatter their stomach the more they eat’; ‘the older they are, more corrupt blood flows through their veins’.

Maintain the provinces equally. Stop corruption and bring back law and order. Respect the constitution. For God’s sake, people do not even know what a constitution is, let alone what it contains. I propose the constitution be published in Urdu, English and every provincial language as well, mass distribution throughout the country and made visible in even the most common places; so that the people will be reminded on a daily basis that the constitution is more than just pieces of paper, it holds a country together.

Take the example of the failed Venezuelan coup attempt in April 2002. Hugo Chavez could never have made a comeback if it were not for the powerful support from the masses. Chavez had the constitution published throughout the country, so that people would be aware of their rights and know how to vote. The coup failed because the masses knew that it was unconstitutional and emerged from their homes to return the country into the hands of their chosen leader.

A final thought for the readers. Granted Musharraf is better than his predecessors and he has on numerous public occasions made that point very clear. Yes, he has turned the economy around, given the media and press enough freedom to keep them happy till 2010, but what has he given the people that they don’t already deserve to be provided by its government? Right now our society needs to be fed, sheltered and enlightened, only then will true leaders rise above the puppet politicians. Oh by the way, no dictator looks for a successor.

5 thoughts on “The Road Less Travelled By Our Leaders Part 2

  1. your article(s) do a good job of describing the problems that pakistan faces in its current day and age, and certainly the recommendations that it gives should be implemented to help us build a better future. however, it is important that we begin to build an understanding of what causes these problems, and why such problems have continued to persist despite widespread calls from civil society to overcome them. the most important and pressing issue in my opinion is the problem of corruption, which has prevented widespread economic development through the promotion of free enterprise and international investment. to begin to understand the roots of corruption, it is important for us to study the nature of the pakistani state and its predatory instincts. the bureaucratic nature of the state has developed through a history of non-representative governments, beginning with our first government in 1947. when pakistan first came into existence, there was widespread criticism towards the mohajirs, who managed to gain control of important bureaucratic positions. political instability in pakistan has ensured that no government is ensured political freedom and security, and through a lack of democracy, we have failed to provide representation for all at the centre. the current political scenario ensures that no public official is ever optimistic of his job’s long term security, hence he is not bothered towards working for his country’s stability. he views his job as a means of securing the most amount of resources, until there is a change in regime, and he is replaced by someone else. this highly factionalized nature of the pakistani state is perfectly described by Olson, who refers to such a state as a ‘roving bandit’, working towards gaining a maximum amount of resources and preventing other citizens from benefitting. politics in pakistan is essentially viewed as a zero-sum game, whereby one person stands to lose if he does not gain from the ‘perks’ of his job. if such an attitude is adopted by the high-ranking officials of our bureaucracy, it is not hard to understand why such an attitude has permeated throughout the echelons of our state structure. factional politics in pakistan ensures that political parties focus on highlighting ethnic issues as basis for representation (such as the MQM appealing for mohajir rights), rather than ideological grounds, which is ideally what a democracy should aspire towards. unless such attitudes are removed, and political representation, freedom and security is granted towards citizens of the state, i do not see how attitudes towards corruption will change.

  2. Really interesting proposal about having retired generals in the police. Do you know if this has been done in Pakistan before, or in another country with positive results?

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