STRAIGHT TALKS

According to the latest World Bank Global Livability Index, Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, is among the bottom 10 cities of the world due to regional conflicts, organised crime and social and ethnic tensions.

Despite it being Pakistan’s economic and industrial hub, the city’s infrastructure and institutions are in a dire condition and the city is prone to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and tsunamis.

A lack of urban planning, poor infrastructure and inadequate emergency services have made the city extremely vulnerable .Water scarcity and a lack of infrastructure to treat and dispose of sewerage water is also a serious problem.

Holding bad governance responsible, the report states that the city has no formal policy for water supply and sanitation. It further notes that only 50 percent of the garbage that the city produces is sent to landfill sites.

There is no central public transport network in the city and no transport policy, it maintains. Approximately 42 percent of its residents rely on public transport, yet the city has only vehicles which can facilitate just five percent of the population.

When democratically elected governments fail to govern and establish their writ, the army, non-political actors, jihadist organisations and extremist groups jump into the arena and take advantage of the government’s failure.

It also gives the opposition an excuse to unconstitutional activities and the Generals to come marching in, remove the government and take over the reins of the country, as has happened repeatedly in Pakistan. However, the concept of a forceful takeover of the government is meaningless without civilian supremacy and good governance.

We have repeatedly witnessed this scenario in our chequered political history and have stumbled from one civilian and military government to another, without finding a government that is of the people, by the people and for the people. We have yet to see a government that is able to govern and provide a system of governance that improves the lives of all and not just the selected few.

However, to blame the present government alone for the failure to govern and ensure the rule of law is not fair. We, the citizens, are also to be blamed.

According to experts, Pakistan is still manageable and can even flourish, but not without fundamental and sustained structural change. Our parasitic elite will never accept good governance, which requires them to see Pakistan larger than themselves. Instead, they prefer to avoid paying tax, making false promises to the citizens, robbing the nation and stowing away ‘untold billions’ in safe havens abroad, for their exit strategies.

We are prepared to lie, cheat, sell our souls to the devil and even kill, to satisfy our ego, our thirst to get rich and to enjoy the perks of power. Our thirst for power and wealth has destroyed and paralysed our social order and moral values, our institutions, justice and administrative systems and the system of fair and good governance.

Unfortunately, none of the graduates and enlightened NA members is really interested in strengthening democracy or improving the system of governance or the quality of life of the 150 million citizens of Pakistan.

The same situation exists in the Sindh Assembly. With daily desk thumping and walk outs on non-issues, important issues like Consumer Protection Law and Consumer Courts, Women’s Rights, Hudood and Karo Kari Ordinance, law and order, water and power crisis, rising prices, etc, keep gathering dust.

Even after 69 years of Pakistan’s existence, we still do not have a viable political or democratic system in place. The system is marred by periodic military interventions. Instead of consistent policies and a strong political base, our political parties are built around power hungry, incompetent, corrupt and dishonest personalities, with blatant disregard for public office and civil law.

We have been groping in the dark for the elusive light at the end of the tunnel and chasing rainbows. And every time, to our frustration and bitter disappointment, the light at the end of the tunnel has turned out to be an illusion and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has turned out to be just another pot of shattered dreams and broken promises.

To put Pakistan on the road to success, there is a strong need to strengthen the integrity and moral values of society and those in the government. If our schools and universities were to produce men and women, who in addition to having attained excellence in the academic field, have sound characters, morals and social values and do not measure success by bank balances or the clubs they belong to, we might succeed in curing the ills of our state and the society. But this is not an easy task, as it will require fundamental changes in ourselves, our values and in what we believe in.

A closer look at these unveils a grim picture. In Pakistan these departments are in chaos. The only law enforced is that of ‘might is right’. When it comes to justice, the cries of the poor fall on deaf ears. Civil consciousness among the masses is eroding at an alarming rate and sense of insecurity is rising. In major cities the basic amenities like water and refuse disposal are taken for granted, facilities that cannot be acquired in smaller cities without invoking well-placed connections. The public departments are being run by thugs who expect their hands to be greased by what has now become institutionalised bribery.

The present economic growth is encouraging, but at the same time the life of an average citizen is becoming miserable. Inflation is on the rise and the gap between the rich and poor is growing. Without resolute public institutions, especially the judiciary, a nation cannot sustain development.

Sit-ins by the opposition are not going to solve or save this country. Unless we hold governments, which are unable to govern and fulfil their obligations to the citizens, accountable, we will continue to suffer and lose precious lives due to sheer negligence and indifference of the governments and their functionaries.

 

trust@helplinetrust.org.pk