Getting out of the mess
THE big question Pakistanis must ask is how to get out of this disarray. By now, no one can deny that the country is in a huge mess, which is getting worse by the day. And it is getting worse because of the quality of its rulers. They are interested in nothing beyond their own interests; their only concern, while the country drowns and burns, is who will get to appoint the most important man who, they will then complain, does not allow them to do what needs to be done. This is a massive muddle that has no simple resolution because the quality of the leaders has been declining from day one. There is little point ho and praying that a saviour will descend from heaven to straighten things out.
At this stage of terminal decline, there is no possibility of a normal recovery because of the state of the rot and the capability deficit to address it. Only radical solutions offer hope. In its absence, only popular demand can force the rulers’ hand and save the country.
I am proposing three radical solutions, in increasing order of radicalness; not with the expectation of their immediate adoption but with the hope that they would energize a discourse that can promise possible escape from what otherwise portends to be a sure death.
The first proposal is one of decentralisation. The exsting 38 administrative divisions should be declared as the second tier of government, each with their own legislatures and executives. Pakistan, with a population of 220 million, is an anomaly having just four second-tier units, one of them being more populous than the rest combined. Compare the equivalent number in Malaysia (13), Iran (25), Brazil (27), India (36), and Philippines (76). At the very least, this would divide the country’s problems into manageable pieces and hopefully some set of local leaders would address them more contextually and better than others.
The second proposal is devolution of maxmum powers to the provinces and restructuring Pakistan as a loose confederation. One has to be honest and admit that the former eastern part of the country has been much better off as Bangladesh than it was as East Pakistan once liberated of the praetorian obsessions of the western wing and the latter’s need to keep various conflicts alive in order to sustain its hegemony. East Pakistan, one should recall, was termed an economic ‘basket case’ and a millstone without the burden of which Pakistan would race ahead. The reality has been exactly the reverse.
The third proposal is a reorganisation of governance. It is no longer possible to revert back to monarchy (though note how intelligently that has been employed in Malaysia) and dic ship has time and again made things much worse. There is no alternative to popular rule, but we can certainly have a system where governance is truly by the people. There is a model for such an alternative called ‘sortition’, in which legislators are selected by lottery from the larger pool of adult citizens.
This proposal is bound to be met with incredulity and scepticism. I can only point out that even today, in common-law systems, sortition is used to select prospective jurors who have a say over life-and-death decisions. Today, it is a life and death instance for Pakistan, and citizens need to take their governance in their own hands. There is no way they can do a worse job than the motley bunch of uncaring electables and strongmen to whom they have handed over their destiny.
Any extension of the status quo will reduce Pakistan to rubble. By the time the music stops, the lights will be out and there will be nothing to eat next year.
India & Bangladesh will NOT allow Pakistan 'Getting out of the mess'.
What will we "... eat next year."?
You sir have very honestly and assiduously laid bare the reality that is gawking us. You have also presented a route that could take us to our salvation. We better think hard and fast. In our present situation time is critical.
Good suggestions. Let me add a few. Stop dual citizens from holding any office of importance, make it clear that the establishment would never be allowed a political role, make peace with all neighbours, by freezing all disputes for 20 years. Future generations can deal with them once the nation is in better shape.
It’s too late. Pakistan is beyond any help.
@M. Emad , what have India and Bangladesh got to do with the self created problems in Pakistan? Let them find their own solutions.
Syed Hafeez Imran
Our psyche, our culture, our lack of education, tolerance & awareness are factors making de ocracy a most unsuited system for us
Lottery idea won't work as it will be rigged. Nobody will be interested in the other two.
Syed Hafeez Imran
The system and the whole structure is so diseased that it can not be put right> Ut is like a body that has developed serious wounds, abnormalities, terminal disease and the only thing that has a hope of saving it is drastice surgery
Agree with the first two proposals - bold and practical. The third is a bit far fetched.
Here is what I suggest:
1. Presidential System with direct election of senetors.
2. Indipendent election commission with EVMs
3. Abolishment of quota system.
4. Setting up national examination authority that conducts examinations and eliminates cheating.
5. Elimination of all perks for Military. Judiciary and bureaucracy. They should only get a salary.
Can this be done? Yes
Will it be done? No
Agree with your first two proposals - long overdue.
However, unless we address the ROOT CAUSE, nothing will change.
WHAT IS THE ROOT CAUSE ? Just keep on asking WHY and one will get the answer.
There in one more time tested solution. Army rule.
This is a wiseman speaking, listen and act please
Brilliant ideas. The diversities in the social structure of Pakistan are realities which must be accepted and respected.
Syed Hafeez Imran
We have to try something else too, maybe a proportional system, maybe a presidential representation system, maybe a short/medium term recvhoncatbasedgovernemnt with no political affiliations
Spot on diagnosis. I agree with the first option. The country is diminishing to rubble in the hands of current masters.
Pakistan doesn't need new or reform system. It needs positive mindset, responsible and accountable civic centres.
@A, did you mean time tested ‘mother of all failed solutions?’
DIGGER DOWN UNDER
"Sortition in Pakistan"! You must be joking.
@M. Emad , bro! I don't believe in countries, flags, or politics. None of which really exst:)
... Ishaq Dar says Pakistan will not default on its loans. He ran away the last time loans were coming due and there was no money in the treasury.
Very impressive and intellectual article sir we need these suggestion's applicable immediately.
excellent article,and i hope this will open the eyes of the one who need to open the eyes
Miza Aslam Beg
Brilliant ideas. I am sure SORTITION can be successful in improving our lot.
Mansur Ul Haque
Politicians are not doing good job.That is why all the parties are more concerned about the appointment of army. Every political party has something in their mind for vested interest that is why it is in their interest to have most powerful person of Pakistan on their side.
Nobody is concerned about the crisis of political/ financial/danger of terrorism/ risk of foreign intervention. If our present politicians do not change their attitude nothing will improve.
The first and third are very sensible and practical suggestions and have been previously made on many occasions and by various authors but to no avail. People empowerment and local governance offer hope for reversal of misfortune in Pakistan.
The second suggestion is problematic and has the potential of higher degree of instability and interprovincial conflicts compared to even now.
Chaos and confusion suits Imran Khan. If he places country before him, our problems would be solved in matter of days.
You left out the role of military in the future politics of Pakistan. Please do enlighten us on this subject.
Too complicated, need simple implementable solutions !