In today’s complicated and knowledgeable world, specialists should do all the special works. Foreign policy, economic policy, defense policy etc. are neither simple common sense jobs, nor can be single-handedly conceived by bureaucrats or ministers. In advanced countries, normally, well established Think Tanks or experts give their input to the governments. Such input could be made available in our country also, but for that experts need to be recognized and their opinions respected. There is no dearth of masters and doctorates in all important fields of security and development. Hard core theories can be conveniently tampered with the input of retired and serving specialists of those areas, who have practiced in the relevant fields. For example few selected ex-foreign sectaries and ex-foreign minister can form a Foreign Policy Group to scrutinize the inputs given by a certain Foreign Policy Institute, and forward it to government. Thus specialists of some eminence will be able to contribute towards the progress of the country without undermining the final say of the politicians, who should for their own good, must limit their approval from amongst the options provided by the experts.

The implementation is, to give practical shape to policies, turn them into practical plans, and issue implementable instructions for lower functionaries which is the prime responsibility and the real task of bureaucrats.

A system is considered incomplete without monitoring systems, with the ability of midcourse corrections. Political governments, that bear the apex responsibility, being the representative of the people, make the laws and rules to ensure that the entire system works. Thus the parliament remains the supreme authority due to their sole authority to legislate. But now the entire implementation framework depends on the all important trio of judiciary, administration and police! And how will they deliver? Only if they are the most efficient and most just. And how will they be efficient? Only if they get inducted through the most transparent induction system, with excellent training, grooming and respect. And how will that happen? Only if these institutions are free from political interference.

But Parliament is the mother of all institutions, why should they not interfere? The big say of the political government, is, and should remain, for the appointment of the top bureaucrat, top police officials and the chief justice only. There onwards, it should be the solemn duty of these top ladies and gentlemen to ensure their institutions are efficient and free of corruption, failing which they be dismissed, again by the mighty parliament or their representative government.

A system similar for the armed forces (without favoritism) should be followed where appointment of chief is the prerogative of the prime minister. This would be the real test of sincerity of politicians to serve this country. The culture of patwari, SHO and DCO and SP has to go. These are some of the essential reforms without which we shall not be able to take the first step out of darkness and hopelessness.

Army is often blamed, and rightly so, for transgressing its lawful bounds. But we must reflect and observe it deeply. Checks and balances are only possible if all major institutions remain interactive and remain amenable to suggestions, rather than a snobbish or isolative attitude.

For the major institutions to be smooth, we need to get rid of the historical burdens.

Race for point scoring, overt and covert ridicule must end. The prime minister with confidence, remaining within the rules of business, should appoint those individuals as head of the institutions, who are competent and candid in giving their views. No single institution, whether political, judicial, media or armed forces can lift the country out of the present vortex; it has to be a collective national effort.

Lt Gen(r) Naeem Khalid Lodhi,

Via e-mail, January 7.