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NSP and social cohesion

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PAKISTAN is perhaps the first South Asian country that has now a comprehensive national security doctrine in a documented form. The country’s friends and foes can interpret it in their own way and engage with the state accordingly. But why has Pakistan chosen to put together pieces of its security approaches in the first place?

For some, the doctrine was needed to remove the persisting ambiguities between the internal and external security paradigms which had emerged after 9/11. While the security institutions were stru­g­gling to precisely visualise the terrorism threat, which was internal, such ambiguities had also been harming the country’s conventional strategic vision. Others believe that Pakistan needed to understand and define its place in the changing world order, specifically in the context of America’s shifting priorities, which compelled Pakistan to become a proactive member of the Belt and Road Initiative club. This has not been an easy transition and a major segment of the country’s power elite still believes that hiccups in Pakistan-US relations are temporary and that Islamabad can maintain a fine balance in its relationships with the US and China.

The growing economic challenge has been another nightmare for the establishment, and lies at the heart of the National Security Policy. However, the NSP reflects a much deeper issue and is linked with the identity of the state and maintaining cohesion in society. The state has been using religion to create nationalism in the country but at a very high cost. Religiously inspired actors have used the same religious-ideological arguments against the state and damaged the country by promoting sectarianism and extremist narratives, which have not only weakened communal and sectarian harmony and social cohesion, but have also fed into terrorism.

Over the last two decades, state institutions have made multiple moves to fix the issue of religiously motivated terrorism and extremism. Their attempts have included the National Action Plan, Paigham-i-Pakistan, the National Internal Security Policy and the Counter Violent Extremism Policy. A large part of the emphasis has been on bringing in religious actors as the key agents of desired change. The state remains reluctant to find an alternative source of social and national cohesion and feels threatened by the presence of sub-nationalist cultures and sentiments in parts of the country. So, it appears convinced that only a religious narrative could work towards harmonising society. Even in the introduction of the NSP, the prime minister has adopted a religious tone to endorse the policy document.

Political parties and most parliamentarians do not touch any issue with the tag of ‘security’.

It is interesting that while state institutions usually keep a distance from the critical mass of the country, the policy draft has borrowed all ideas and terminology used in the latter’s intellectual discourse — mainly ‘inclusivity’ and ‘diversity’. For instance, in the section on national cohesion, the policy draft reads like this: “It is imperative that we reinforce our coherent national identity based on the principle of unity in diversity.” However, in the next line, there is an expression of fear of external forces which are exploiting the fault lines that exist in society. Notwithstanding the fear behind the notion of ‘unity in diversity’, this is a positive development. But how will the state institution translate it into action? Through changes in the curriculum as mentioned in the NSP? But what is the state doing to bring changes in the curriculum in the first place? The major objection to the Single National Curriculum is that it promotes exclusivity. It is not clear that the state institutions will engage society from whom they have borrowed the terms. Traditionally, their allies for sociopolitical and ideological engineering remained the religious groups from the time of the Afghan jihad to preaching Paigham-i-Pakistan.

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It is not certain how NSP will help in addressing the identity crisis in the country when the predominant approach of achieving social and national cohesion is to reduce the space for sub-nationalist movements. Apparently, ‘cohesion’ has been used as an alternative term for engagement. The state is using the engagement strategy for religiously inspired actors and cohesion for subnational movements. However, the unclassified NSP document does not help us understand how the cohesion process will be initiated. Will it be a coercive or dialogue-based process?

The NSP identifies the religiously inspired extremist groups and sub-nationalist movements as the key internal security challenges. As per practice, the state spectrum of threat includes other segments of society in this domain as well, which sympathise with any group or movement or raise their voice over state action and policy. The state institutions think in black and white and want to curb all threats with full impunity and without any accountability. They lack the ability to identify the grey areas and it is even harder for them to evolve the policy framework around it.

Parliament can do this job to clearly identify the grey areas, the grievances of the people, and the dynamics which can develop cohesion so that miscreants and irritants can be isolated. Parliament and civilian governments have done this job and developed all instruments and institutions for fixing the issues, including the economic and political grievances of the federating units. But the issue as always remains implementation and the executive remains bound to its commitment to the establishment rather than operationalising trust. Obviously, the executive derives its strength from the establishment rather than from dialogue with dissenters.

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Over time, the word ‘security’, has become very sensitive. Political parties and most parliamentarians do not touch any issue with the tag of ‘security’. They think this is the exclusive domain of security institutions and their job is only to endorse whatever policy is coming from the establishment. If the NSP is presented in parliament, it will be endorsed very easily. Parliament is sovereign but it should be truly independent, and all political parties must play a role to make it the country’s supreme institution. Nothing can guarantee a cohesive Pakistan more than a vibrant parliament.

Via Dawn.com

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Drones

The UAE Drone Attack is a Grim Reminder for Better Regulation of Drones

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The drone technology has ushered in an era of revolution, not only in military sector but in other sectors as well. Unmanned aerial vehicles have found employment in agriculture sector for purpose of spraying hazardous chemical fertilizers which might cause several skin diseases if sprayed with bare hands. Drones are used for the purpose of crop assessment and India has recently employed drones for measuring agricultural lands and digitizing the land records. Drones are also used for delivering critical pharma ingredients and have recently been used to deliver Covid-19 vaccines in remote and inaccessible areas. Other potential uses of the technology include surveillance of mines before mining for any potentially-hazardous gases.

But this drone technology is not a win-win technology and comes with its own security concerns. On January 17, 2022, two Indian and one Pakistani national were killed in a drone attack at a fuel storage facility which was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. In retaliation, the Saudi-led coalition targeted Houthi strongholds in the capital city of Sana’a through air raids. However, this is not the sole incident where a non-state actor has resorted to drone technology for carrying out successful attacks. In June 2021, Pakistan-sponsored terrorists detonated drone-carried IED at an Indian Air force base. Drones have also been used by ISIS to target bases of coalition forces.

The dynamic drone technology has become a growing concern for law-enforcement agencies all over the world. The main objective of drone technology, also known as the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was to benefit commercial, humanitarian, civilian and peaceful military activities. However, these have become a new tool of mass destruction with little to no collateral damage to the perpetrator. The recent attacks highlighted above are a glaring example of the destructive potential of this critical and emerging technology.

What are the challenges from drone technology?

I want to make it very clear in the first place that the threat lies not from this technology itself but rather who uses this technology. Hence, the foremost challenge comes from the potential misuse by the rogue elements as mentioned above. Non-State actors, terrorist organisations can use drone technology to carry out simultaneous attacks. Moreover, evidence suggests that drones intended for commercial purpose can be modified for non-commercial purposes. Hence, it is quite difficult to identify the type of technology; the kind of drone which can be employed to launch attacks.

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Another significant concern for the law-enforcement agencies is that low-flying drones escape air defence systems. The use of these small drones in the night time can prove more deadly. The small and insignificant size of these drones grants them weak radar, thermal and aural signatures. These nano-drones are not very expensive and are readily-available in the market. Hence, the cost-benefit analysis provides desirable results.

Another concern regarding the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles technology is that this technology is a rapidly-evolving technology which requires a constant monitoring of the modifications introduced in the technology. Over the past few years, drones have become central to the functions of various businesses and governmental organizations and have managed to pierce through areas where certain industries were either stagnant or lagging behind. This requires both the national as well as the global security apparatus to be on toes to counter this evolving technology.

Another problematic aspect of drones is that the technology supports both intra-and-inter country drones. In other words, the attack can be perpetrated from a place within a country as well as from a place across the border. A recent example of cross-border drone attack is of course the recent attack by the Houthis on the UAE oil storage facility highlighted above. The worrying trend in this regard is that most of the time, the victim country does not have enough insight over what is being planned or evolved across the border. Probably, that was the reason why both the UAE as well as Indian authorities failed to thwart the respective attacks in their territories.

Present defences available against Drone attack-

Present counter-drone technology can be bifurcated in kinetic and non-kinetic defences. Kinetic systems are countermeasures designed to impact a drone in-flight to disable/damage it. Kinetic defences involve the use of an external element to thwart the attack. It can be done through spraying bullets on the UAV, destroying it through laser or high-powered electro-magnetic waves, using a small-range ballistic missile, collision with another drone, etc.

However, Kinetic counter-measures come with their own limitations. For a kinetic defence to be successful, a number of factors need to be ensured. The foremost among these factors is the ability to track drones as soon as possible. Without tracking of drone in time, it would not be possible to coordinate the defence in time. Moreover, the weapons used to bring down drone are generally short-range weapons which are effective only up to a small distance, say 100 feet. Any skilled-drone operator can easily defy these weapons maintaining good flight planning and situational awareness in monitoring the drone’s flight path.

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Another set of counter-drone technology consists of non-kinetic defences. It includes using jammers to disrupt communication between the drone and the drone operator, disrupting the GPS signal, etc. Basically, these measures do not require the security forces to conduct any combat operations. However, much needs to be done in the realm of counter-drone technology because of the nature of the rapidly-evolving drone technology.

What needs to be done?

I have already highlighted the potential of this drone technology to transform various sectors and the fact that it is not the technology but the user of this technology who might pose a threat. Hence, the foremost thing to be kept in mind is to prevent drones from falling into wrong hands. This can be done through placing stringent registration requirements on the part of operators. Issuing a Unique Identification Number for each drone can be helpful in this regard. Further, certification of every drone by the competent aviation authority must be made compulsory.

Low-cost drones have the potential for more mischief. These drones weigh as less as 250 grams. Hence, there is a greater need to regulate these type of drones. Official supervision requirements can be placed for manufacturing of drones beyond a certain size. Moreover, a greater emphasis should be there on encouraging self-discipline within the drone industry in order to prevent the drones from falling into wrong hands.

With respect to counter-drone technology, the need is to respond swiftly and remain one-step ahead while working on counter-technology. Development of an all-encompassing air-defence system must be prioritised in order to track and bring down any drone irrespective of size. More funds are required to be poured in for research and development purposes in this regard. The focus should be on autonomous hard-kill counter-technology.

Via MD

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Democracy

The Current Situation And The Governance

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It has been almost one and half year of PML (N) led Federal Government to complete but the situation is going from bad to verse. On the  Economic  front  , it has achieved  a  tremendous  success  but on the  Security front, it has been facing  the  constant internal and  External threats  . The Bomb blasts  , extortion and  Communal riots are  on the rise  and  the  whole  country is  going  through the  most dangerous and  critical  security  situation which shows  no sign of  improvement  .

Despite failure of  dialogue  with  Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) after  their  conditional  Ceasefire  , So far  no positive  results  have been  experienced  or  observed  as  reported  by the main stream Security analysts . Consequent upon the  Presidential Elections in Afghanistan , the deadline of  NATO forces withdrawal from Afghanistan  is  fast approaching    and with   replacement of  Karzai Government , Pakistan  will be  facing the  Security  threats  from the  TTP factions  existing in  Tribal Areas  , Punjab and  long bordering  Afghanistan . With aggressive  attitude  of  Armed  forces after the induction of  General Pervez Musharaf  in  the high  treason case  of  suspending the  Constitution and  imposing  emergency  in the  country   .

The Army as an institution  is in aggressive mood  as  Renowned  Analyst and Journalist  Najam Sethi has  predicted  that  Army will resist any  capital punishment  given to Former  Chief of Armed Forces  General  Pervez Musharaf.  As the later himself claimed and still claims that the Army is with him. The Statement of  general Pervez Musharaf  that  he  enjoys the  support  from the  Armed Forces cannot be ruled out as Political parties  have  started consultations over  giving  the  safe  exit  to former Armed Chief to avoid institutional confrontation .

The All of Sudden decision of  Armed  forces  to initiate  major  Offensive  against various factions  of   Taliban militants  under the  operation Zarab-e-Azab in North Waziristan and other  Tribal Agencies clearly echoes  the  “all powerful institutional status”  of  the  Armed  Forces  . The judiciary and  The parliament are being overshadowed  by the  Mighty Institution with the  passage of  Protection of  Pakistan  Act 2014  which could  be  used  against the anti state Actors and security  personnel could  detain  any suspect  or  political  Activist for the  period  of  90 days  without reporting the  whereabouts of  the  Detainee.

On other  hand  , After  serious  incident of  Model  Town Lahore  which claimed  12  innocent lives  and  90 persons got  injured,  has  started  a  tug of  war         between the  Strong man Shahbaz  Shareef  and  Revolutionary  Dr  Tahir –ur-Qadri  as the later  has been  criticizing the  Punjab Government  for  bad  governance  and  demanding the  case  may be  registered against  Punjab CM and Security Personnel considering them  responsible for the  Model town Shootout . To remove the  stain from Shahbaz Sharif , Sharif  Brothers  ousted  the  Provincial Law minister Rana  Sanaullah  making him   Sacrificial  Goat . The Gullu Butt Mystery is yet another issue to be reckoned with. The PML (N) seems to be between devil and deep sea to deal with the issues popping up all of sudden.

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The  PTI’s head  Imran Khan’s Saga  is  yet another pressure tool for the  government to deal  with since  Mr. Khan has  been  demanding  recount of  four  Constituencies of  Lahore  but the  Government  has  not  heeded  to them as  yet  . The Demand  has  been supported  by the  PPP recently which might have  confused  the  already  under pressure  Sharifs  to make some tough decisions  since  PTI’s Announcement for  Freedom March on  14th August  might have  compelled  the  PML (N) government to  make  some  measures  to  cope with the  Freedom March  plan  .

Asif  Ali  Zardari’s recent  statement over  PTI’s  Demand  may have  shaken the  PML (N) leadership since  Zardari’s PPP  enjoys the strong Position  in the  Assembly as well as  in  Senate  which may create hurdles  in the  way of  PML(N)  and  may  create  such a  scenario  where  Midterm Polls  looming  Possibility , may become a  reality  as  with  MQM a coalition partner  in Sindh with  PPP  , both  may force the  Sharifs to accept  the  demands  and  make  some  bitter Decisions which may change the  entire  situation  .

Pakistan has become  the land of   controversies  such as  Dr Arsalan Iftikhar’s recent  Blame game  against PTI chief and  challenging  the  Candidature of  Imran Khan and  PTI challenging  the  Candidature  of  Sharif  brothers  has  other  motives  to  disclose since the  parties  have  been  watching the  situation very  attentively and  joint  opposition Alliance  Possibility  could  not be  ruled out as  every Political party has  got some  Common interest and  every party wants to  win the hearts  of  the  people with their  campaigns  against the  government .

Some  mainstream Parties have  initiated  campaigns against  Rigging , corruption and  energy crisis  , some have raised  issues against operation , some has  criticized  the  privatization road map  for the  State  Institutions ,some have criticized  the  Economic and  Human Rights  Policies  . Some have also criticized the nepotism and favoritism in the appointment of heads of various State Institutions. So much so, that almost every Political Party has a bone to pick with the Government. In this connection, Government has been compelled  by the  prevalent  situation has  decided  to  let the  Freedom Marchers  to March  on Independence  since  the  PML(N) think tanks have  advised  the  Government that  if  government  resisted  to the  Freedom Marchers led  by  Imran Khan  , may  have  serious  repercussion which may  change  the entire scenario and  create  such  situation which may further aggravate the  governance and  PML(N) led  Federal government days may be counted .

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The recent  Popularity Survey conducted  by  Gallop and  other Organization show that  PTI enjoys  the  First  Position  , PPP  second and  the  PML(N) has  slipped  to  number three  as  PML(N)’s  popularity  graph has  been constantly  maintaining downward trend  which is  not suitable  for already criticized  party by the  leaders  of  mainstream party  . The People of Pakistan has been fed up with “you –n-me” turns and want this to be changed with performance indicators and visionary leadership. The people have become  fatigued to elect same  legislators  from the  same  constituency  for  consecutive  three decades and  want the  old  faces to be  replaced with new ones  .

As  the oldies  have become controversial  due to corruption , nepotism , favoritism , influence on security agencies and other state machineries  and inefficiency and lack of  clear  policy and vision to materialize  the  promise  they  had  made with the people during their  Election campaigns or  those written in their  Election Manifestos .Election manifestos are  written to attract the  voters to cast their votes in the favor  of  Parties candidate  as nobody  takes  any responsibility to review  the previous  manifestos and  update  the  manifestos with clear vision .

For  instance  , PML(N)  had  promised  to end load shedding in six months  but  failed  miserably  and  heavily criticized  for setting  illogical  targets  without any consultation with Power Sector Specialist or  doing any research on any issue since Except the  PTI ,No any party has  any strategic  Policy unit  to address  the  key issues  and  do some research  present and future  issues  related  Human Rights  , Development , Planning , Demography , Social Development , Economic  Development , Natural Resource Management  , Security , foreign Policy  , Democracy and  Governance and  come  up with lasting solutions to those  issues  of  higher importance  and  drafting their manifestos on the basis of  Research and  Situation analysis  rather than  just  exaggerated calculations  and  making illogical conclusion which be the  basis  for  criticism at a time  when  these same  issues  may become the  cause  of  the  Government failure .

So why not take some initiative in advance to address the issues and find out lasting solutions after Research, analysis and consultations. This will change the whole picture of the governance and bring in innovations in Democratic Process rather than just traditional Politics .

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Democracy

The Flawed Electoral System And Good Governance

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Pakistan has  been  the  most unfortunate country, governed  by  non professional Feudals ,Capitalists and  less  educated  legislators  who mostly win the  Elections by  rigging  , feudal  influence ,power and strength ,  leaving little  space  for  the  poor  segments of  the  society  to exercise  their  right to  vote for  the  candidates  of  their   choice  . The  Practice  of  Exercising the  vote for the deserving  candidates  has  been  a tough task  for the  people  residing in rural  areas  who are  heavily influenced  by the  Feudal lords  .

These  feudal lords  have  complete control  over these  poor  souls and  force  them , mostly the  small farmers and peasants , to  vote  for the  candidates  he  had  promised  and incase  of  defiance  , get  ready for the serious  consequences. The Polling Stations  are controlled  by the  hired  goons of  these  Feudal contesting candidates  who not only  pressurize  the  polling staff  for the  support of their  candidate  but  even  cast fake  votes  on the  power  of  Guns  . The  poor  polling staff  receiving  life  threats  in the  station  compellingly  nods  to the  wishes  of  these  spoons  who are tasked  to get  support from polling  staff for  maximizing the  chances  of  Success  of their  contesting candidates  .

In  this  condition  ,  the  staff  administering the Polling  station  and  one or  two  Police  security personnel  could  not resist  to the  powerful candidates  who  enjoy the  greater support in the  higher ranks of  bureaucracy  . Such  systems  have produced  the  worthless  politicians  who  grease  their palms  when  they  are  in power  and  spend  the  public  funds  on their  personal  luxuries  forgetting those  who made  their  access  to Assemblies  possible by voting  in their  favor  .

In Pakistan  , the  Elections  are  either  held  before   the  completion of term  or  sometimes  marred  by the  Coup D’états as the  history  reflects  the  story  . Pakistan has been ruled more by the Marshal Law Administers than by the Elected Democratic forces. The Election in Pakistan is contested by various parties in the various provinces. Some  parties  such as  PML (N)  , Pakistan People’s  Party Parliamentarians  have  majority  at federal level  where as  the  some  parties  have  majority at  Provincial  level  . For instance, the  Parties  such as  ANP and  JUI-F  had  massive  majority in the  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa  in previous  term of  Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian led  Government  but  after  May 11 2013  Elections  PTI  gained  thumping  popularity  by  winning  the  maximum  number of  seats  in the  General  Elections  and  has  become  the third  largest  party in terms of seats  in Pakistan after  PML(N) and PPPP.

The PTI has also impressive representation in National Assembly, Punjab Assembly and Sindh Assembly as well. Led  by Former  Cricketer  Imran Khan  , PTI  has evolved  into  a  well organized  Party  specially for youth  of  Pakistan  .  Until 2013, there were only two party rule  with majority. But  in may  11 Elections  last  year  , PTI  emerged as  victorious party  with simple  majority in KPK  to form the  Government  with Moderate religious Party  Jamaat Islami in the  Terrorist  hit and  Drone  engulfed  Province  . PPP has  always  won the most seats  in Sindh  followed  by  Urban influenced  MQM  and  PML-Functional  . In  Punjab , its  PML –N and  PML-Q  to appear  victorious but in  last elections  PML-N  was given the clean chit in Punjab to grab the maximum seats  . Though  the  PTI  protested  against the  rigging in   the  constituencies of  Lahore  and  carried  demonstrations  but  to no avail .

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The  Baluchistan  always  gives  mix  response  where  no party gets  simple  majority  in the province  and forms  Government  with other coalition partners but the  PML-N Chief   Mian Nawaz  Shareef  gave the  chance to  nationalists of  BNP to form  the  government with  PML-N  and  other  parties  There are  several parties  registered with   Election Commission of Pakistan  but they are not deep rooted  as compared  to  ,main stream  parties  such as   PML –N , PPPP, MQM  , PTI , MNP , PML-F  , PkMAP  and  PML-Q  . Though  the  nationalists  in Baluchistan contest  the general Elections  but in Sindh It was very first time  that the national parties     such as SUP , STP and  QAT  contested Elections last year but could not win  any seat  even though  they had an alliance.

The  Last  year  Election were  a bit change  as  compared  to previous elections  as  voters  were  required  to place  their  thumb impressions and CNIC number  on the  ballot papers on the reserved  part of the Ballot paper which was  held for record purposes but  the other portion of  the  ballot  paper which was    given to the  voters , did not carry both the  thumb impression and CNIC number thus  making the whole  process questionable and deliberately the  possibility  of  rigging appeared  . The  PTI  even went on to say that the Whole Elections were  rigged  and demanded  re-elections  but  the  demand  was  put down  when they formed  their  Government  in KPK .

Moreover  , the fake Degree  holding  Legislators  were  first  disqualified  and  then permitted to  contest  elections  making  adverse  effect upon the  future  elections  taking the  fake  degree  issue  into consideration . If  you are  allowing those  who  made  false  statement of their  qualifications and  submitted  bogus  degrees  to Election Commission  ,then  how  could  you expect a  Good  governance  from the  candidates  . Everybody  will  raise  fingers  upon them as they  cannot be  sincere  to the  nation whose  precious  votes  were  hijacked  by the  candidate  holding fake degree  .

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The  Fake  Degree  holders  should  have been  given the  exemplary  punishment and  a  life time ban  on their  candidature  for  Provincial  , National and  Senate seats .Our neighboring country  India  has  introduced  e-voting  system  for making the  Election  free  , fair and  transparent  then why can’t we adopt and  introduce  such system  to discourage the  possibilities of  the  rigging and  over influence  . The world has been benefiting from the  technology  but  we are  not  availing the  services of  reputed  Technology giants  to mock test  the e-voting system . Though  mock testing  was  done  in KPK for  local Government Elections  which produced  positive results  .

As Election Commission of Pakistan is  going to hold  Local Bodies Election this  year   in Sindh  , Punjab and  KPK , why not  give  a  try to the  e-voting  to  ensure  maximum  transparency and further  the reputation of  apex  election Body which is  tasked  to hold  Local as  well  as  General    Elections . The  Election  Commission should  mock test  e-voting system  in all the  provinces  and  seek feedback from the  voters  about the  system and  arrange  televised  sessions  for  voter education and introduction of  the  e-voting system which will probably  minimize  the  chances of  bogus voting  and  rigging in the Elections . At the  same  time  the  ballot papers  should carry CNIC , Thumb  impression box  on both  parts  such as  the portion which is reserved for  record and  the portion for casting vote after  stamping  the election sign of the  candidate of  voters’ choice  .

Unless  the whole  Election system  is  completely revamped and improved  , the inefficient  candidates  will keep  on making their way to the assembly  whose  credibility  would  always be  questioned since  systematic  flaws  directly affect the  Governance  system due  non professional and less  educated  candidates  who will  miserably fail  to undertake  the tasks of  Policy making , Legislation and  ensuring good governance . These  people  will be at  mercy of  the  Secretarial  Staff  to guide them  in their  operational and  legislative duties .The Election  commission  may  also contact  the  polling staff  from  NGO’s and  Public  as  in service  Staff is influenced  by the  candidates  easily  . This will greatly help minimize  the  rigging chances  and  encourage the  Good Governance System after success  of  deserving  candidates and  at the same  time  will make whole electoral  system  transparent and fair .

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