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March 31, 2020

Change is inevitable

Opinion

March 31, 2020

Yes, I’ll dare say it out loud. Why now, one might ask? Well, the answer to that is simple: not just the economy but humanity is at stake in Pakistan. The magnitude of governmental incompetence is a plague on its own at a time when we face the Covid-19 pandemic.

People make mistakes, that is acceptable. But what is being done to the fundamental values and structure on which this nation and its institutions stand is clearly an attack.

Systematically retarding the fourth pillar of the state from day one; attacking the funds and working of the sector; limiting advertisements; causing a systemic slowdown of the industry resulting in hundreds of jobs lost – this was a strategic initiative taken in 2018 to damage the media. Now the head of the largest media group is in jail, arrested during investigation by NAB.

Then we have the constant witch-hunt, the blatant political victimization of opponents. The heads of all major parties were persecuted, morally attacked and incarcerated, including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The arrest and bail of Rana Sanaullah is a story on its own. The embarrassment of Kulsum Nawaz and Nawaz Sharif; the arrest of Zardari and leaders of the opposition all on taxpayers’ resources – did something come out of it?

Parliament, the supreme institution, has been put to shame more than once. It’s not even a paper tiger anymore. Why am I surprised? The PM has publicly, on numerous occasions, castigated the supreme constitutional establishment, claiming the institution has no worth and is not being run properly. But do I see reform? To the contrary, I see complete lack of interest, rather operation through friends and former colleagues at the cost of national institutions. Unelected, inexperienced and in most cases incompetent individuals are put in charge of key strategic decisions.

Administratively, accusations and arrests of senior public service officials and multiple displays of humiliation, demotivating the civil services, is all leading to a complete lack of delivery. The Peshawar BRT and Orange Train in Lahore are just a couple. Am I surprised? The PM roared, in public gatherings and on containers, that he would go after senior officials and the bureaucratic establishment of Pakistan.

The promises of houses and employment are yet to be realized; and frankly, you might not see them anytime soon. From claims of austerity to the claim of building universities at strategic state sites to the slashing of scholarships from the existing allocations. It’s a constant state of self-contradiction.

The economy of agrarian Pakistan? Mafias and cartels are chewing on the flesh and feasting on the blood of the poor. Farmers are squeezed to the bone by the wheat and sugar lords. All I see are ‘Friends’ not ‘Government’ at work. Innovation is nonexistent; modern concepts, digitization and the vision of research-backed decision making are replaced with reactions and compromises.

Health and humanity were left, but we are facing a pandemic, the likes of which mankind has never seen and the results of which are far-reaching and on a scale beyond the comprehension of the current playing 11. Those waiting for this to pop: I warn you, this time it will and tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives will be permanently affected.

The current reactionary retorts, the incoherence between the federation and provinces, the complete lack of regard of scientific and practical evidence, and the clear divide between various institutions show that this arrangement, in a time of national and international crisis, needs to be corrected. It’s not just our economy anymore; our lives and families are imperiled. Change is inevitable.

The writer is a social entrepreneur. Email: [email protected]