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January 17, 2017

No more excuses


January 17, 2017

It is true that conspiracies were hatched in 2014 to dislodge a democratic dispensation. The fact that the elected government was forced to concede space to invisible hands cannot be denied.

There is not even an iota of doubt that you, Mian Sahib, were coerced into taking some unpopular and undemocratic steps to save democracy. It is also clear that the spectre of destabilisation is still haunting you. But let us admit the situation is not as precarious as it was some years ago.

So, let us get to business. Let us do something for the over 60 million hapless people who are condemned to live in abject poverty. Let us snatch 13.8 percent of Pakistani children under the age of five from the clutches of death. Let us put more than 200 million children back in school, spring into action to save 33 percent          children who face the risk of getting stunted owing to malnutrition. Let us also make hectic efforts to reopen over 5,000 non-functional schools in the country.

Is it difficult, Mian Sahib, to put an end to the epidemic of hepatitis B and C in parts of this Islamic republic? Do you really believe your government cannot get rid of terrorism with the myriad of intelligence agencies and one of the biggest armies in the world? Do you find it hard to provide people with pure drinking water, decent housing and quality education?

If a tiny Cuba can prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child besides drastically reducing child mortality and achieving highest literacy in Latin America despite all the sanctions of the Western world, corporate media’s smear campaigns and conspiracies to wipe out the island from the map of the world and if a tiny Nicaragua can demonstrate miracles in health and education sectors despite being plagued by a US-instigated Contra insurgency in 1980s, then why can we, with billions of dollars in the form of foreign aid pouring in, not achieve the same?

Do you not think that empowering local bodies, granting independence to institutions, ending the practice of doling out contracts to cronies and setting goals to improve human development index will strengthen democracy? Is it not in the favour of democracy to award tickets in elections to your own party workers who endured hardships after the October 12     coup instead of stuffing your party ranks with over 150 turncoats who put their all energies in the past to strengthen Musharraf’s dictatorship?

Does some of the PML-N stalwarts’ support to sectarian and jihadi outfits not fly in the face of your claims that you recently made regarding the equal status of minorities in the land of pure? Does it augur well for democracy to turn a blind eye to the activities of those outfits that have always glorified dictators? Is it not good for democracy to get rid of the constitutional provisions that could be exploited by non-democratic forces?

No man with a modicum of political consciousness will claim that Pakistani democracy faces no threat but is succumbing to pressure only to save general will. Should you not be courageous enough to rein in a famous mullah of Islamabad who, in no time, can ally with non-democratic forces to create instability? Should you not summon enough courage to declare Pakistan not a country of General Pinochet? Should you not rescue thousands of farmers in Okara who face the risk of eviction despite toiling the land for generations?

Should you not challenge those who have been encroaching upon state land in the name of housing societies for their gargantuan appetite of profit? Do you not think the conversion of rich agriculture lands into expensive housing societies can push the country towards the problem of food scarcity?

Mian Sahib, your strength lies in supporting the rights of small provinces. Your political acumen in lending support to the 18th   Amendment was appreciated by your friends and foes alike. But Punjab has to demonstrate more magnanimity and that can only happen when you are at the helm of affairs.

Baloch nationalists claim that the much-vaunted CPEC has pumped a paltry $600 million out of $46 billion into the most backward province of Pakistan, and that the lion’s share has been captured by Punjab and Sindh. The province with the highest child mortality and abject poverty deserves much better. If Balochistan was the magnet that attracted China and prompted it to announce such a large investment, then why should the Baloch not get the lion’s share?


The writer is a Karachi based freelance journalist.

Email: [email protected]


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