Mar 28 - Apr 3, 20

Though one could say that Pakistan has made significant developments since independence, yet dispassionate analysis forces one to infer that the record has not been enviable, be it politics or economy. Going through reports written in fifties and sixties remind us that the country still face the same problems. Rulers are still reminding us that we are at the crossroad and the geopolitical conditions are still hostile. Maybe because we failed to make three important words unity, faith and discipline the integral part of our life style.

Many of the critics say we are not a nation but cluster of groups having vested interest, but elites do have a common objective of transferring ill-gotten wealth outside Pakistan. While haves are generating heaps of wealth and poor is going poor, both indulge in corruption and blatant assassination of good governance. The irony is that the poor have lost the power to express their dislike what to talk of resisting the evil groups.

Since independence, the country has remained under military rule for the longest duration. Though politicians blame the Khaki for its usurpation of power, they hardly look at their deeds. There is no democracy within the political parties, most are working like a clan where son/daughter occupies the key position after the death of father and mother. It looks strange that that the politicians observing no democratic rule prefer to call others dictators. Lately, some of the second tier political parties were expelled only because they committed the sin of disagreeing with the leadership. Those, who enjoyed some weight sooner or later form their own political parties or prefer to join any other political party willing to give them some importance.

The worst example is Pakistan Muslim League, fragmented into nearly a dozen factions from original league that worked hard, passed Pakistan Day resolution on March 23, 1940 and succeeded in getting independent Pakistan on August 14, 1947. Some cynics say Muslim League died when Mather-e-Millat Fatima Jinnah lost the election against Ayub Khan. Turncoats and opportunists have thrived over the years mainly because of the slogan 'jera jittay uday nal' or I am with the winning party, no matter how it wins the election. Elections are won on the basis of cast and clan and whenever it is realized that some one is becoming a threat, the first option is to buy out the loyalty and if some one refuses to become a saleable commodity, then he or she is either put behind the bars or assassinated. The feudal lords occupy the maximum number of seats in national and provincial assemblies and senate. They also remained in full control in many districts under the city district government system. It may be said that wadera, khans, and maliks not only own land but are the rulers and common man is nothing more than hari or kammi.

This system has prevailed and thrived only because of 'watay satay ki sadi' children of waderas, khans and maliks joining army, civil service and judiciary and solemnizing weddings of daughters/sons with the children of business community. Therefore, whoever rules the country these elites of the elites control power or have full access to corridors of power. Even the women elected on reserves seats are daughters and scions of the politicians. Some cynics say that often the democratic process in the country has been derailed by those who could not wait for their turn. The living example of this is election of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto twice as prime ministers and subsequent dismissals of their governments before completion of the terms. Is it not ironical that Shaukat Aziz's government was the first in the history of Pakistan to complete its term and on March 22 this year Asif Ali Zardari created history by addressing the joint session of parliament for the fourth consecutive year.

Since independence Pakistan has remained dependent of multilateral donors and the reliance has reached a record level during the regime of present government. Masses are told that borrowing is done to save the country from imminent default. Electricity and gas tariffs are raised because the government cannot pay subsidies and new taxes are imposed because revenue is falling short of the requirement. However, no effort is done to curtail lavish spending by the elected representatives but developmental expenditures are curtailed to finance the extravaganzas.

While India and China aim at boosting GDP growth rate to 10 per cent per annum, Pakistan's GDP growth rate is still hovering below 3 per cent. The ongoing war on terror, precarious law and order situation, growing militancy, acute shortage of energy products are often blamed for the dismal economic growth. But, isn't the government responsible to face all these challenges?

The present rulers often say that Pervez Musharraf agreed to be the part of 'US war on terror' but what his other predecessors and even the present rulers are doing. Ayub Khan allowed establishing US base at Badabare for undertaking U2 flights and Zia ul Haq and his team fought the proxy war for the US in Afghanistan for nearly ten years. Is it not true the frequency of drone attacks has touched new highs during the currency of present regime?

It may not be wrong to say rulers have remained subservient to the super powers during the cold war era but have become more dependent on the sole surviving super power. This may be because they have realized that towing the foreign line can prolong their rule but they should not forget whatever happen with Raza Shah Pehalvi of Iran, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf. All these were eliminated when they became redundant.

It is often said that Pakistan occupies an important position in the geopolitics but this importance often becomes a threat for its very existence. Pakistan lost its eastern wing in 1970 and over the last four decades remained victim of gross interference by the foreign intelligence agencies. Pakistan's enemies can only be defeated if Pakistanis make the three words of Quaid unity, faith and discipline their way of life.