Articles of the year 2011

Destroying the institutions
Published on January 18, 2011

The ministers who have come through our flawed democratic process do not have the expertise to run their allocated ministries. The power shortage and the oil and gas shortages are all symptoms of a collapse in governance. We are watching the death throes of a government imploding Pakistan is swiftly descending into a state of chaos; but for the Supreme Court (SC), all the other pillars of the state have gone into 'sleep' mode. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) is determined not to interfere unless his own areas of interest are impinged upon. Observe how swiftly the dispatch of the ISI to India was stopped. All planning on the war on terror is not discussed in parliament, nor are the number of casualties laid before the House. The inference being that the army knows best and the civilians need not worry themselves over a matter that does not concern them. However, with the number of deaths rising — mainly civilian — this is a matter of serious concern for the whole nation. Similarly, the army cannot remain unconcerned about the state of the economy and its rapid downward drift. The previous martial laws were imposed with much less cause.

The political parties are indulging in a political danse macabre to see who can get away with the most while they flaunt the 'system' they want to protect. The system has been fooled into installing a president who is doling out plums to his chums, most of which have been stayed by the SC to be investigated by the FIA.

The assembly consists of members, 90 percent of whom can be disqualified by their own nomination papers. None of the members of the House have filed their wealth statements and, by virtue of this oversight alone, their nominations are invalid. These facts are well known to the Election Commission, and there are petitions pending against most of the members in the relevant courts. Even the SC is aware of these matters and is taking action, though painfully slowly. These cases that are pending before the Election Commission could be decided quickly but we see that the opposing candidate can also not be validated because of incomplete wealth statements — such is the state of our candidates. This cleansing of the House is essential if our nation is to move ahead.

Even the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), whose judgement was delivered a long time ago, awaits implementation. The court is watching the prime minister's office's avoidance of the issuance of a letter to the Swiss authorities, even after having been instructed by the SC. Just the implementation of the NRO alone has the potential to remove a large number of the corrupt, and their huge corrupting influence on the system.

The poor people of Pakistan, who are getting poorer by the day, are watching their jobs dwindle. The railways have stopped their cargo trains and the passenger trains will stop any day now. The railway engines bought by different regimes have mostly been junked, and need a further 175 units into the system to prevent a total collapse. Any nation must have a railway that works, and Pakistan inherited a system that was working brilliantly, left to us by the British, which has slowly degenerated into its present sad state while its valuable real estate is being eyed by the vultures. The Indians have proved that the railways are a huge revenue earner and can be run efficiently.

We are watching a favoured appointee attempting to administer the last rites to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), our national flag carrier — an international source of pride for so many Pakistanis living abroad for it was 'Humara PIA'. PIA was established by some very dedicated Pakistanis, famous throughout the aviation world for their help to other countries in setting up their own airlines. Emirates Airlines was established by PIA, and its first flight was a PIA aircraft with a PIA crew. From these dizzying heights we have been brought to selling our routes to the Turks who have not quite managed their entry into the European Union (EU). These rights are very valuable and were earned by the sweat and hard work of three generations of dedicated Pakistanis. Parkinson's Law states that a man rises to his level of incompetence. This appointee in particular is way out of his league. He should be relocated as far away from the mainstream as possible. The number of people affected by the closure of these routes is horrific, as it is the death of a dream for many young Pakistani girls and boys. The Pakistani stewardesses were famed for their charm and beauty and were icons for thousands of young Pakistanis who now will be deprived of a future in aviation. PIA, to many, is much more than just an airline.

These then are the sad facts that are facing the country. One hopes that the SC is watching the damage being done to our national institutions such as Pakistan Steel and now PIA. The ministers who have come through our flawed democratic process do not have the expertise to run their allocated ministries. The power shortage and the oil and gas shortages are all symptoms of a collapse in governance. We are watching the death throes of a government imploding. No enemy of Pakistan could have done it better.

In Salmaan Taseer we had and lost a man who had so much he could have given the country, primarily because of his love for Pakistan. I am sure he did not believe that, caring as he did, any Pakistani would eliminate him. The loss is ours because there was so much to do and so few competent people willing to take up the task. Any one of the problems listed above could have easily been resolved by him for he had the necessary skills. Alas, in Pakistan, a religious belief defies argument.