close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

Legal Eye

October 31, 2015

Case for godfather NSA

Opinion

October 31, 2015

Legal eye
The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad.
Prime Minister Nawaz Shairf has just appointed the recently retired Lt-Genl Naser Janjua as his National Security Adviser. While we began debating whether this further imbalances our already lop-sided civil military relations or is a step to make the NSA’s office meaningful, Pakistan suffered another earthquake that claimed over 250 lives.
With the army chief touring the affected areas, the earthquake made relief efforts the immediate priority for our army even while it remains engaged in executing NAP to extinguish terrorists across Pakistan.
Natural disasters and the state’s ability to respond to them showcase a polity’s priorities. Whether it is an earthquake, flood, heat wave, famine or excessive rains, nature continues to expose Pakistan’s apathy for the safety and dignity of its citizens. The only reason our state looks half-decent in the aftermath of Monday, October 26th’s earthquake is because the damage inflicted was limited. Had the loss of life and damage to property been as extensive as that in 2005, our state’s response would have seemed as desperate and dismal as it was back then.
Baloch separatists, the TTP, an unstable Afghanistan or a belligerent India will probably not pose an existential threat to the Pakistan in which PM Sharif’s and General Sharif’s grandchildren will be adult citizens. And the mightiest, most disciplined and resourceful army will be unable to provide safety against the existential threats that will imperil the peace and prosperity of our power elite’s grandchildren in 2050, ie a water scarce country bursting at its seams due to its swollen population that is unemployed, poor, ignorant and intolerant.
According to ‘World Population Prospects 2015’ released by the UN in July, Pakistan’s population in 2050 will exceed 300 million. (Between 2000 and 2010, Karachi alone added 8.7 million citizens to its population setting a new world

record for the fastest growth of a city in a decade). Where will we find the resources to feed and house another 110 million in the next 35 years when we already struggle with our 190 million? If our cities are over-crowded and poorly planned today, imagine the chaos they will be with triple their size in 2050.
Most other challenges are then linked to this ticking population bomb. Earlier we were told that Pakistan might face water shortage by 2035. But an already stressed Pakistan is now expected to become water scarce by 2025. As population grows so does the gap between the demand and supply of water. But are we working on water storage, other than in official files? No. Have we seen conservation efforts or rainwater harvesting policies? No. Are we focused on changing our habits and water use per person, reportedly amongst the highest in the world? No.
According to the Fund for Peace ‘Fragile States Index 2015’, Pakistan is the 13th most fragile state in the world. Climatic challenges pose a major threat to its future. Cycles of floods and droughts, extreme temperatures and water shortage will have a multiplier effect on threats to food security in a burgeoning Pakistan that is barely self-sufficient even today. If despite being an agricultural country we are struggling to feed 190 million in 2015, how will we feed 300 million in 35 years with nature and state priorities both loaded against us?
Threats posed by nature are being accentuated due to crimes of omission and commission by the state. Pakistan is rapidly urbanising, but there is no urban planning; only unseemly growth in all directions. So for example if we can’t even manage to implement a safe building code in Islamabad, our only planned city, what chance do we have of ensuring sustainable urbanisation? Those who died when Margalla Towers collapsed in Islamabad in 2005 and many who died in Karachi’s heatwave of 2015, died due to the malfeasance of the state and not that of nature.
Whether it is a natural disaster or a malfunctioning polity that inflicts damage on citizens, the poorer and vulnerable segments of society are the ones worst hit. In Pakistan the state offers no safety net. After every natural disaster, it is the spirit of generosity and philanthropy that exists within our society that largely shares the burden of those affected. But as natural and self-inflicted threats to the sustenance of a huge population grow along with the gap between haves and have-nots, ad-hoc charity by the tender-hearted will not cut it.
And the gap between haves and have-nots will inadvertently grow because the state has done nothing to build the two avenues that can lead to a semi-levelled playing field for citizens: education and employment. On education, with over 25 million kids out of school, the government’s approach to equal opportunity is not to enhance the quality and quantum of public education facilities but to drag private education down by semi-nationalising it through price fixation. And instead of focusing on urban planning, our socio-legal approach to schools is that they cause nuisance and must be thrown out of residential areas.
On employment, successive governments have continued to see the state as an employer instead of being an employment generator by virtue of policies that increase the size of the economy and available jobs in the private sector. So with a large chunk of our population uneducated and unskilled, with a curriculum that nurtures bigotry and intolerance amongst those who get some sort of education and with limited means of upward social mobility even for the educated, are we not sowing the seeds of violent social upheaval in Pakistan?
Will the hungry, illiterate and unemployed majority of Pakistanis in 2050 patiently live in their ghettos and silently suffer the brutalities of nature and the state, while peacefully coexisting with fellow citizens that constitute the rich or empowered minority whose fortunes and privileged lives can be envied but never experienced? How high will the privileged need to build their walls and how big a contingent of private guards will they need to employ to keep away from their children torrents of hate and anger flowing in their direction?
With our present blinkered approach to national security, citizen welfare, infrastructure development, utilisation of resources and distribution of state largesse, we might be leading Pakistan into a direction where in a few decades it could become unsustainable as a polity and unbearable for its citizens. And our kids and grandkids who come of age in such crowded, resource deprived, benighted and bitter place would be left with no option but to pay for decades of ill-considered and insular policies pursued by their parents and predecessors.
The sane thing to do is to candidly acknowledge that the choices we make in our individual capacities and the private fortunes we leave behind can only do so much to protect our kids and afford them happy and prosperous lives in the nightmare that Pakistan could become by 2050 if we continue in our stead as a country.
If PM Sharif and General Sharif envision the Pakistan of their grandkids on the basis of present projections, they would have little difficulty in agreeing that we need an alternate NSA as well: one that isn’t appointed to broker peace between competing power elites or to be consumed by transient emotions of the day.
They could call it the Godfather NSA. His job would be to think only about tomorrow and to be consumed by the challenge of leaving behind a Pakistan for our grandkids that isn’t worse than the one we inherited from our parents.
Email: [email protected]

Topstory minus plus

Opinion minus plus

Newspost minus plus

Editorial minus plus

National minus plus

World minus plus

Sports minus plus

Business minus plus

Karachi minus plus

Lahore minus plus

Islamabad minus plus

Peshawar minus plus