James Freeman Clarke once said, “A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.” I am certain the second half of saying was never read and pondered by people’s representative in Pakistan. The politicians of Pakistan are embroiled in devising flawed policies with short term benefits and it depicts their shallow vision. Another contour of having their myopic approach is to act and react laboriously on pressing issues. Be it politicians or state departments, delaying tactics are always exercised to appease the gravitas of local and national matters and that makes the system politically anemic. In a country, where issues are catered seriously only when noticed by CJP, COAS, PM or CM, a collective national vision does not survive among the large cadre of parliamentarians.
For instance, the Punjab government appeared ineffective on handling the issue of smog three months ago. It was not the first time that smog engulfed entire Lahore and suffocated people to respiratory disorders but with each passing year, this problem has escalated. The short term measures like advising public about the use of masks, adequate water usage and not to incinerate waste everywhere, were taken. While the tangible solutions were not addressed, the real issue is the extensive slashing of trees in Lahore in the name of infrastructure. Moreover, permits are given to autos that produce deadly smoke and harm the environment. The atmosphere in Lahore wouldn’t be destroyed had the eco-friendly vehicles were given permits only or strict challans were imposed on carbon monoxide releasing vehicles. With each passing year, this issue aggravates and is dealt with mere futile measures by the authorities.
Similarly, it took a long time to decide by the government to impose ban on soft drink in educational institutes. The extensive use of carbonated drinks in schools and universities had imparted deteriorated effect on health and induced obesity. This ban also came late – as no prudent policy was ever designed before – when the young generation got addicted to carbonated drinks.
It is inane of government to make policies and present a ‘five year’ plan for masses despite being unaware of the exact number of population. The sixth census in 2017 was performed after a long span of 19 years. Were all the national policies being devised by legislators in last two decades, without having the exact record of population number and needs?
A delayed response has become a norm. It has not just been seen on a particular matter but even the gravest of matters go unnoticed by the state. The life and fate of the people of Fata were and still are decided by an obsolete law, that is, FCR. For more than a century, the people of Fata have been socially distracted, fundamentally deprived and emphatically isolated. Every government – democratic and dictatorial – has put this issue at the last of their priority list. Now that this issue has jumped from fry pan into fire, the government gets light-footed on the merger of Fata with KP. Fata was reached to the brink of collapse and was occupied by the Taliban. After successive military operations, Pakistan Army succeeded in eradicating the anathema of terrorism but peace process wasn’t yet completed as government delayed in devising policy and plan for Fata. By now, the concrete plan of Fata merger is still incomplete. This issue is also being delayed by some of the politicians with vested stakes in Fata. A real parliament makes plans on the grounds of far-sightedness. Any legislation with long term benefits cannot be formulated by lawmakers with shallow vision.
The state departments have become habitual of taking notice only if social media creates ruckus on a certain issue. The law enforcement institutions and state machinery render deaf ears to the voice of a common man, deprived of justice. This has seen in the case of Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud. Social media fulminated the issue of Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud and it took three long days for Bilawal Bhutto to take notice of the heinous act performed by the then SSP Rao Anwar. The issue would have been precipitated in few days had the Supreme Court not taken suo motto action. The state’s response is plodding in the times of crisis. The role of judiciary as a pillar of state is not to take suo motto action on each and every incident that takes place in this benighted country. The onus lies on state departments as they ought to be vigilant to bring the culprits to justice in order to keep the society in order. Not everyone has millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook to take the issue to national level. There will be hundreds of Naqeeb Ullah Mehsuds, Zainabs and Asmas in this country who couldn’t reach to national media to become a breaking news. We should be grateful to social media in Pakistan and a handful of activists who awake politicians and institutions from their deep slumber.
It is bizarre to think and debate over politicians’ taking notice of every incident that takes place around. It behooves state departments to respond to the disorder without being alarmed by the Supreme Court or our chief ministers. This is how the systems work when every department performs its duties. The state departments must act swiftly than the people.
Nowhere in any established democracy of the world, have the police and law enforcement department become vigilante on the orders of CM or chief justice. In Pakistan, the trichotomy of power jolts when one pillar intervenes in other’s matters. In 2018 general polls, before casting vote to their representatives, people must ask them to become their voice in parliament and out there. They must ask them to respond their troubles and injustices promptly rather than relying on electronic and social media. They must ask them that procrastination shall not be accepted.