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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

Intense polarization and Pakistan’s democratic future

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Pakistan has been a polarized polity and consequently, a divided society for the past half century, and even longer if we look back deeply into its history. It started with the serious differences among the political elites of the country over the character of the state, quality of federalism, relationship between religion and governance and ideological choices. One may argue that it could be a normal process in a diverse nation’s struggle to take a definite direction and achieve stability in the formative phase. But one wonders why it would take nine years in writing the first constitution and then its annulment within three years without any general elections or transfer of power happening under it.

Without getting into the details, it was the inability of the ruling elites, their diverse regional backgrounds, personal vested interests in power grabs, and for that purpose, engineering of political manipulation to wreck governments and forms new ones.
Factions of the same elite under different party platforms kept displacing one another from power endlessly until the military took over in 1959. There is another view that political elites were innocent and they were actually played against one another as puppets by the civil and military bureaucracy.

This is too charitable a perspective to excuse the political elites and their never-ending factionalism, which continues to this day, after a long history of 74 years. If they had played by the rules, demonstrated political solidarity on principles and forged a political consensus, the democratic norms and convention would have gelled over time. The recent ouster of former prime minister Imran Khan, despite the fact that he had the largest party in the parliament with 156 members losing power to a motley group of political factions, the closest second having only 86 members and forming the new government, speaks a great deal about persistent polarization. The sad story of Pakistan is that naked factional elite interests have shaped these power plays, often by seeking friendly intervention from the powerful judicial and security institutions.

Generation after generation, coming from the same feudal-tribal social background, Pakistan’s political elites have promoted political values that run counter to nation and state-building.

The normal and expected role of the political elites in any form of political system is working toward stability, order, national unity, solidarity and continuity along with ensuring progress, social and economic development.
The Pakistani elites have done quite the opposite: polarizing and dividing people along ethnic, religious, ideological and narrow political lines. Generation after generation, coming from the same feudal-tribal social background, they have promoted political values that run counter to nation and state-building in ethically and demographically diverse society.
Ultimately, it is the rapacious character of the Pakistan ruling classes, their low commitment to rule of law and accountability and access to power as means of material benefits that have stunted the growth of democracy. In such conditions, the military has assumed the role of ‘guardian’ of the state, and has regularly managed political conflicts erupting over power struggles among the elites.
The present polarization between the PTI and the rest of the 11 so-called political parties and factions is not new. It is a continuation of the same historical pattern, only the main characters have changed. Each successive confrontation has been more severe than before. The ongoing clash looks like political warfare with no-holds-barred, barely covered with a fig leaf of constitutionality. This has been in the making for the past nine years when Imran Khan challenged the fairness of the 2013 elections. The others, in return, questioned the accuracy of the 2018 vote and vowed to oust him from power by forming a joint alliance, launching street demonstrations, and finally succeeding by winning over dissidents from his party and coalition partners and moving successfully a vote-of-confidence motion in the National Assembly.
The sudden change of heart by four coalition groups supporting Khan and the open betrayal of 20 members of his party have raised many troubling questions about the neutrality of powerful state institutions. This adds another dimension to the political conflict playing out in media, civil society and the general public. 

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Khan has instantly decided to engage in popular agitation against what he calls an ‘imported’ government by weaving a narrative of foreign ‘conspiracy’ and accusing some as ‘traitors.’ His decision to resign from the national assembly en-masse is stunning and may prove to be an adventurous path to Azadi‘liberation’ for the country. He will be doing politics now not in the parliament but in the streets, rousing public anger against the ‘corrupt mafia’ and demanding fresh elections. 

Via ArabNews

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Democracy

Democracy: A colonial hangover

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The system is premised upon the idea that one head would count one vote. Although the notion theoretically solves the basic inequality problem, it generates far greater inequalities’

Right after the Second Great War, though the British did leave this continent for good, they left a mess for the people of the newly founded nations to collect. Oftentimes, while trying to rationalise their colonial past, many of its fervent advocates claim that one of the greatest things that colonised countries inherited, which they would not have otherwise, was the idea of democracy: A new system of governance. A facile narrative to cover their smelly past, but also a false one.

Like many other nation-states, Pakistan also adopted democracy at the time of its inception, taking its cue from the then supposed leaders of the world. It hoped that by doing so, it too would reap the benefits that democracy promised to bring along – equality, freedoms, free-market economy and stability. However, many of these states descended into martial laws under despotic rules or turned rogue. Pakistan’s own fate was no different.

Perhaps, there are inherent flaws that everybody tends to overlook because of the way it was delivered to us and by whom – our old masters giving us the parting gift. But why is it that, to date, the same system working with far greater efficiency in the West fails miserably in developing nations?

Free market is a preeminent feature of democracy and in theory, it was supposed to be the lodestone towards freer and more egalitarian societies. But all it accomplished in reality was a further chasm in inequality and degeneration into pure consumer capitalism. This marvel made it so that power would concentrate in the hands of the affluent, making it essential for the politicians to remain in their thrall if not from within them. This notion is precisely misleading when looking at western societies. The idea of social-welfarism – which began in the early 1900s only – bridged this gap to an ‘acceptable’ degree both in terms of social and economic equality. But can this ever be achieved in countries like Pakistan or India: Reeking of moral corruption, notoriously venal, elections manifestos premised upon intolerant suppositions, bedevilled histories and above all, rugged with indigence?

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The system is premised upon the idea that one head would count one vote. Although the notion theoretically solves the basic inequality problem, it generates far greater inequalities. This perspective is not supposedly a new idea and was also put forth by B.R. Ambedkar at the time when he was penning the Indian constitution. The idea of an English democracy did not particularly resonate well with another leader of the Indian freedom movement: Mahatma Gandhi.

One might inquire the reason why these leaders were so sceptical of democracy. The answer can be found precisely in today’s time. Even a fleeting look at the Modi regime could call a day of reckoning for all purveyors of democracy: de facto martial law in Kashmir, systemic persecution (as witnessed in Gujrat) and discrimination against ethnic minorities, populism at its peak, leading India into regressivism – and all this being done by the ‘democratic power’ vested in Modi by the ‘largest democracy’ in the world. Maybe such foresight left some of the leaders of the Indian Independence Movement disenchanted with democratic prospects, fearing that such a system would spawn the same problems that they sought independence to curb.

Pakistan, billed as the single Muslim nuclear power has always had to maintain an international image. The problem with the image is that it is examined on western ideals of which democracy stands to be the single biggest factor, irrespective of how nominal it is. This ensures aid, loans, and all sorts of international support for said country.

If such a scene is set, how can really a country decide what system serves its people best? It is as if countries are being goaded into something simply because they cannot yet afford a dignified existence for their people. It is not to whinge that democracy is rooted in every problem or to anoint it with a gilded halo as the saviour of nations.

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The point in matter is to maybe think beyond for more egalitarian and just systems of governance. To not only aim at democracy as a metric to be reasoned among civilised nations. To make it in essence, once again, the society of Lycurgus, the society of Plato, the society of Marcus Aurelias which could push beyond what they could see. These rusty gateways of discourse, which would require some pushing, need to be opened. Maybe democracy works, maybe it does not – but the answer, in the end, lies with the people.

Via MM

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Democracy

LGs and welfare

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WITH a renewed focus on conducting local government elections, the issue of grassroots governance has bounced back into the news and policy cycles. This is reflected in the various aspects of LGs being dissected by political and civil society stakeholders, and activities — including protests by political parties — to find better and lasting ways to improve local governance.

Historically, the local bodies, first introduced during Gen Ayub’s military regime, have waxed and waned in line with the wider political schemes of state managers. It is an open secret that LGs are strategically renewed by military governments for undermining the established local political elite and manufacturing into existence a new layer of more pliable grassroots leadership. Meanwhile, elected governments and political parties too have neither looked kindly on the prospect of LGs taking root for similar fears that their locally established leadership might be challenged by new political actors.

However, irrespective of the intention behind the strategic diminishment and resurrection of LGs, the consensus across the political and academic spectrum is that local bodies are the linchpin of service delivery and the chain of political representation. Moreover, their role as connectors of higher-tier government structures and grassroots also remains unchallenged. In this respect, while many aspects of LG service delivery roles are being pored over, the role as a deliverer and administrator of social protection programmes has not been given the attention it deserves.

In Western democracies, the political governance landscape is based on local parish and councils. It is unimaginable to see them knocked out of the political representation and service delivery chain. In the UK, without local councils administrating education, social welfare systems etc, the whole edifice of a unitary state would come crumbling down. In Pakistan, however, LGs have been turned off and on like tap water, discouraging the exercise of people’s right to local representation.

With LGs, Ehsaas can have a greater reach.

The role of LGs in the administration of social welfare programmes is by now also well established in the developing world. Brazil is both associated with introducing participatory budgeting at the municipal level and the use of LGs in the administration of its famed cash transfer programme Bolsa Familia. This model has been copied in the rest of Latin and South America with municipal offices playing an ever-greater role in the roll-out and administration of similar cash transfer programmes. Brazil’s municipalities are at the front and centre in managing its social registry, carrying out a broad set of functions including identification of low-income areas, registration of beneficiaries, data collection and verification, training and outreach etc.

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In Colombia, LGs are responsible for processing new applications and updating existing beneficiaries’ data on a rolling basis. Each municipality signs an agreement with the national cash transfer programme, committing to specific obligations and responsibilities. Committees are also established at the municipal level to handle complaints and allegations of ineligible beneficiaries.

In Pakistan, however, the role of LGs in the roll-out and administration of cash transfer programmes has been not systemically thought through. One of the key reasons for this is the evolving and expanding nature of the Ehsaas or Benazir Income Support Programme and the uncertainty about the continuance and longevity of LGs.

However, now that LGs seem to be back in fashion, steps should be taken to make them a permanent feature of political representation and service delivery chains. Only when the LG system is allowed to put down roots and firm up its uninterrupted presence can we begin to think about ways to shoehorn social protection programmes into LG structures for ease and confidence of its beneficiaries.

As the Ehsaas programme expands, LGs can provide it with a firm foothold, acceptability and greater reach among the public. Pakistan should definitely learn from the pragmatic fusion of local bodies and social protection programmes for better service delivery and generating wider public involvement (and hence support) at local levels. Political parties also need to change course and see LGs as the permanent enhancer of representative and service delivery aspects of democratic governance rather than as competitors of established local elites. In the longer term, there is also a long-overdue requirement for conducting research into how the absence of LGs has contributed immensely to the crisis of democratic governance and falling standards of centralised service delivery that we see today.

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