Saturday June 25, 2022

Call for constitutional supremacy, respect for all institutions

By Our Correspondent
May 22, 2022

State institutions have failed Pakistan in upholding the supremacy of the country’s constitution, said experts and professionals of various organisations gathered under the banner of the non-political Concerned Citizens Alliance (CCA) at the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) House to address a news conference on Saturday.

They said state institutions are subject to abide by the rules and laws in the constitution, and it is their non-compliance and adventurism that have resulted in the present existential crisis.

Introducing the CCA, they said the alliance is a non-political forum that anyone concerned about the prevailing situation of the country is welcome to join, irrespective of their political or religious leaning.

They said that as deeply concerned citizens of Pakistan, it is their objective to get civil society organisations and professional associations together as an alliance focused on the critical state of national economy, besides the political and social meltdown.

They also aim to formulate a financial and social action plan with defined objectives in consultation with top economists and technocrats towards an urgent and much-needed stabilisation of economy to be followed with a series of much-needed, hard-hitting reforms with a road map to recovery in sectors across the board.

They said they understand that the country is experiencing the worst crisis in its history, which is so dangerous that it may turn into an existential crisis. They identified financial instability as the biggest issue, compounded by the heat of political turmoil.

They lamented that the Pakistani nation is turning more and more into an intolerant society, saying that the people have become so polarised that political differences are creating animosities among friends and relatives.

They pointed out that the language being used against one other had never been known to the nation before this polarisation. They stressed that the situation is unacceptable to the concerned citizens of the country, warning that allowing such behaviour to persist will have serious consequences.

They asked all major and responsible institutions to come out of their shell because the only solution to diffuse this situation is an open, transparent and meaningful dialogue.

They also stressed on consensus, constitutional supremacy, the rule of law and respect for all institutions, saying that it needs to be done sooner or later, otherwise in the face of the rapidly changing situation, further delay will cause irreparable losses to the country.

Former Federal Board of Revenue chairman Shabbar Zaidi said Pakistan’s political and social situations are at the worst stage but there is no one to address these issues. He stressed the need for national consensus to address social and economic challenges of the country.

“We have to minimise the use of electricity and energy consumption. The government should encourage citizens to pay taxes. But unfortunately, the taxpayers’ money isn’t spent on the public in return. The speedy population growth will create more problems. Therefore, we have to make new policies to deal with this.”

He said that Pakistan cannot quit the IMF programme, adding that the countries that are providing loans to Pakistan are doing that with the condition that Pakistan will not quit the programme. “We receive loans over loans to run the country, but we aren’t ready to develop our economy, local industries and tax system.”

The PMA’s Prof Tipu Sultan said that if the situation is not handled properly, Pakistan would see the same situation in the near future that has recently been observed in Sri Lanka. He said the institutions do not seem serious about handling the situation.

Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research said the country’s fundamental issue is that it is not a purely democratic country.

“During the past 75 years, no major reforms were made. The political parties aren’t democratic. No one is interested in bringing major social, economic, educational and military reforms. The IMF will always dictate its terms because Pakistani governments are yet to understand how to put the country’s economy on the right track.”

Nargis Rehman of the Karachi Citizens for Change said we have not used our resources to manage the country’s economy. “We’re taking loans from other countries, and want to live royal lives on those loans. The government and the opposition should sit together to solve these problems. Unfortunately, they are busy levelling baseless allegations against each other.”

Others who spoke on the occasion included Nazim Haji of the CCA, Syed Khawar Mehdi of the Commonwealth Karachi and Azizul Hassan of the Labour Organising Committee.