Friday May 24, 2024

NTRC via new enactment or referendum on national failures and way forward

By Senator Rehman Malik
January 16, 2019

The country is passing through unprecedented turmoil where the economy is falling day by day, the adverse effects of which are now visibly seen in the form of price hike and this deteriorating economy will further affect common men's security.

The political history of Pakistan is full of political deals, wheeling and dealing, sacking of democratically elected governments, economic disasters and dictatorial policies imposed on the people of Pakistan.

There has been propaganda of accountability covering a minor portion of corruption with built-in tools to keep the power in hand whereas nobody demands the accountability of intellectual dishonesty/corruption in this country taking place since its independence, which remained a major factor of a stumbling block for the prosperity and development of the country in the hands of the rulers.

Time has come to expose those hidden hands and the faces, which have brought our country to this worst level in almost all walks of life. The country is continuing to move on a slow pace with the main motto of rulers to remain in power. Unfortunately, the ruling elites failed to impose the rule of law including the present government. The in-depth study of law enforcement shows that most of the laws were made to rule the public and not to serve the public in defiance of rule of law. These laws have failed to create real deterrence to block those who take the law in their hands to use in their favour. Pakistan is not the first nation, which is facing this kind of dilemma of internal dissatisfaction and wedge within various segments of the society including political polarisation.

The nations do not progress unless the people are made the real and the only stakeholders in the decision-making. The elite class always remained the main governing power in the government whereas the common man continued to face the same turmoil, which he was facing during the colonial time through exercise of same colonial laws. The Parliament, partially representing a common man, is being totally ignored. The government is making its major decisions without taking the parliaments into confidence, which in fact is a sign of distrust in the public wisdom.

The blunders committed at the national level by all the stakeholders, particularly the rulers who are needed to be identified not for the sake of court or media trial but to learn a lesson from the mistakes and to find a way forward for our future generations. The model of South Africa given by Nelson Mandela is still applicable in many countries like us where National Truth and Reconciliation Commission (NTRC) has successfully performed in their national interest.

It is high time to review our blunders and on the basis of our past mistakes, we should find the way forward for long term solution. The way forward is now a real deal with the people of Pakistan, which can only take place if middle and lower middle classes are considered as main stakeholders of the country and their participation is ensured at all levels.

The concept of National Reconciliation was conceived by Nelson Mandela and implemented in South Africa to create harmony within the ethnic groups emerged over a long period. We have also got similar issues in our country and people of Pakistan now want intellectual accountability besides addressing the menace of financial corruption.

The need of the hour is the National Truth & Reconciliation Commission (NTRC) to highlight the real factors and causes of intellectual corruption and to name and shame those who had been responsible for polarisation in the country and the society. Mr. Mandela decided that the best thing for his nation was reconciliation at the national level wherein he took some political parties on board to bring about some political solution to the disharmony and distrust amongst the different factions/segments of the society.

Admittedly, there is no provision in the Constitution to have such broad-based powerful and independent commission, which could undertake the national task to expose and dissect all those blunders done by powerful and influential bureaucrats, politician and dictators in the past. Hence, I propose that nation must consider a referendum on National Truth and Reconciliation Commission to take the opinion of a common man, as it is very important for profiling the blunders, errors, lack of responsibilities by many actors in the arena of bureaucracy and politics.

This is not with the intention of criminal prosecutions but an exercise of a national assessment of our lapses and national failures. People of Pakistan want the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which should be based on the following objectives and TORs of national importance:

1. The Commission to collect all the authentic national archive highlighting the causes, factors and actors, which has brought the country to this level of what is happening today.

2. To provide a platform for the general public to tell their stories and facts to put the national record straight.

3. Failure to provide the full basic right of education, health and easy justice.

4. Failure of implementation of rule of law and non-implementation of many provisions of Constitution of Pakistan including the 18th Amendment.

5. To recommend legislative, structural or other changes to avoid a repetition of past abuses and amendments for speedy justice for a common man.

6. Establishment of a superior court for constitutional matters.

7.To name those who were responsible for providing shelter to those who had extracted huge banks loans besides those who had written those off at the cost of national economy.

Our history is full of record where many understandings were created to accommodate each other for political benefits by ignoring the main stakeholders, which were common men. These were, in fact, marriages of conveniences between the dictators and political parties and sometimes between political rivals to advance a common agenda and all such compromises need to be identified for a proper consolidation to be part of Pak history.

I was wondering as to why the people of Pakistan were totally kept in dark in such processes of deals and indoor decisions sometimes in the assemblies and the governments avoided placing important decisions before the Parliament. I am also worried as to why there is no provision in the Constitution which prevent deals between vested political and non-political entities to grab and prolong their power with mutual protection?

Similarly, there is no provision to regulate and watch the behaviour of our economy besides foreign and internal security, which is presently managed by the bureaucracy alone. Why could the successive governments not devise and implement an inbuilt system to keep a check and balance on the behaviour of the economy and other matters of greater national interests at all stages of its process? It is another issue, which needs deep analysis and probe to find out as to how the political polarisations and political wheeling-dealing by vested interests had contributed to the decline of the economy and crippled other vital organs of the state.

We are in trouble because our present system is failing to manage the ever-increasing issues. The concept of the National Truth & Reconciliation Commission is not new to bring the truth of the polarisation and "political deals" to the people of Pakistan - the actual stakeholders - to understand the background and factors behind such indoor deals ultimately compromising national interests. The PPP under the leadership of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had proposed the establishment of such commission in the historic Charter of Democracy and she had been advocating for it till her last breath and she wanted this concept to be transformed into reality.

Let us not shut our eyes and allow the country to slide into irreversible troubles zone and work collectively to halt it by playing our role to save the future of our generation instead. We must also find a collective and workable solution to drag the nation out of these deep multiple crises as the government alone will not be able to pull out the nation out of this coming economic tsunami and external political pressures.

I propose that either a joint Parliament session be considered to undertake these discussions and proposals to take upon this national duty of National Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the form of a broad based parliamentary commission from all political parties with the above proposed TOR’s. Alternatively, the Parliament may allow a referendum through a resolution to allow a common man to give direct opinion on the above multiple crises via referendum for the formation of an independent and transparent NTRC as earlier proposed by many senior leaders. The TORs can be formulated with the collective wisdom of all the parliamentarians through votes and not by a selective group within the Parliament.

I hope the government will take the initiative by taking the opposition into confidence and perhaps bring a special draft enactment on the constitution of NTRC if not through referendum.

N.B: These are my personal views and not necessarily represent the views of my party.

The writer is Chairman of think tank "global eye" & former interior minister of Pakistan.

@Email: rmalik1212@gmail .com, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik, @GlobalEye_GSA, WhatsApp +923325559393