Tuesday May 30, 2023

A national challenge

March 30, 2021

Our hearts bleed when we observe our ever-declining standards of intellectual honesty, moral values and respect for parliamentary ethics in our tension ridden highly polluted domestic polity.

‘Honesty and fairplay’, both in domestic and international politics, as advised by our founding father Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, have conveniently been forgotten. Deceit, complete disrespect for principles, blatant lies and disregard for democratic norms have become the order of the day. This tragedy is so profound that all state bodies are fast losing their credibility and are becoming controversial.

Let’s take parliament, which is the face of our nation and is the prime institution of the state. It unfortunately does not enjoy the requisite respect because our political parties fail to award party tickets to deserving candidates. In view of a lack of meaningful consultation within the political parties, clueless deadwood so-called loyalists are obliged and then priority on doubtful seats is given to electable opportunists – even if they are morally, politically and financially corrupt down to the core.

Parliamentary attendance by the members, both men and women, is normally very thin and the chief executive, who is to steer the country, seldom shows up in parliament where highly sensitive governance, financial, defence and foreign policy issues are supposed to be discussed. Lastly, participation in various parliamentary debates seems to be the sole monopoly of only a chosen few who make long speeches that are mostly irrelevant to the agenda item under discussion. The hallmark of such speeches, more often than not, is verbosity, repetitions and ridiculing political opponents. Thus one seldom comes across an innovative or creative idea.

The judiciary, which alone can turn the tables in Pakistan by remaining above board and deciding issues on absolute merit, leaves much to be desired. This is because our judicial system doesn’t believe in the fact that advocacy and judicial judgements are two different fields, each warranting a different type of basic grooming, coaching and training.

Further, mostly the public's sufferings start from the prevalent thaana culture, delayed decisions in civil and criminal courts, political victimisation by NAB and fake cases in anti-narcotics courts. Some cases are heard on a daily basis, not realising that “justice hurried is justice buried.” On the contrary, some murder and rape cases take decades, not realising that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

However, the biggest responsibility to put the country on the fast track to prosperity is that of the chief executives which can be ensured by creating healthy working environments in the country by showing tolerance without compromising on principles. It warrants effective governance, provision of security to people’s lives and properties and creation of a business-friendly atmosphere to attract foreign investors. Governments in power usually have a race against time. They quickly plan to implement reforms promised in their manifestos. Is this happening in Pakistan today.? The answer unfortunately is a big no.

Lastly, we see the ECP. We salute the courageous and upright stand the current CEC took in the apex court and did not budge even an inch from the constitutional dictates. He also took stern action on the Daska by-elections based on his personal information, intelligence and judgement. However, the ECP has no justification for their indecision on the Faisal Vawda and foreign funding cases.

My humble request to the prime minister would be that he should become the leader of the entire nation and have the courage to look into the eyes of the opposition leaders sitting across the table. Allay their fears, listen to their recommendations and show respect for the elected representatives of the people without compromising on principles. Let the courts decide cases on merit, ensuring justice for all. Seek help from all leaders on how to check the ever-increasing national debts, expedite CPEC projects and thwart the resurgence of terrorist attacks.

The writer is chairman Senate Standing Committee on Defence Production.