Marked with important decisions
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Aug 20 - 26, 2001
The independence day was marked by some important
decisions announced by President General Pervez Musharraf which may
have far-reaching effects on social, economic and political life in
Pakistan. The desired results of these decisions, however, are subject
to their implementation in letter and spirit which is generally a
major concern in the light of past experiences.
The people of Pakistan however celebrated the 54th
independence day in the conditions which are by and large identical
over the years. The present government once again has tried to give a
new direction to the people to march to democracy.
On the track
The cost of the mismanagement of the national
economy almost by every government in the past is now being paid by
the people in general and by the poor in particular. The culmination
of the easy course of borrowing money opted by the governments for
running the governments in a lavish style has brought a deluge of
foreign debt. For the debt servicing of this piled up debt government
has no option but to levy a large number of taxes paid by the people.
The poor are being punished for the folly committed by the so-called
leaders or the economic managers.
President Musharraf, on the occasion of
independence day has given the good news that Pakistan is back on the
rails and it can now look forward for a better future without sword of
economic catastrophe dangling over it. His words "nation has the
strength and capacity to rise again" are certainly heart warming,
because the only concern of the masses is the evergrowing cost of
living which has reached to the saturation point. The limited
employment opportunities, stagnant economic activity and exorbitant
rise in general prices have added to the miseries of the poor.
The President however says that Pakistan is back on
the rails. "It is not me alone who feels satisfaction but the
businessmen and industrialists also share this view and it is
confirmed by foreign economic experts". "This is not a small
achievement". "Apparently, we are in the gulf of despair and
hopelessness but something tells me that bold spirit is not dead at
all" the President said.
"I am thankful to Allah Almighty for providing
me with the opportunity to lead the process of rebuilding Pakistan
with the help of my dedicated colleagues and with the support of the
people of Pakistan" he observed.
"We have overcome innumerable hurdles to a
considerable extent. But our troubles are not yet over." We will
have to work hard to overcome them. We are back on the road to
recovery". He said revival of the economy was the main focus of
his government adding that the government had done a lot to revive the
economy from shambles. He also thanked the friendly countries for
extending a helping hand to Pakistan in this hour of need. The
President said the government had decided to keep reducing the
borrowing from abroad. "We have been quite successful in bringing
down the day to day expenses of the federal and provincial
The government, he said, had even frozen the
defence allocations which, considering the situation on the borders,
was no mean achievement. This was made possible because of the desire
of the armed forces to contribute to the national economic development
and their professional capabilities to adjust to the change without
lowering their guards.
Gen. Musharraf recalled that the Government has
upheld its promise to hold local government elections under the
devolution of power plan. He said strong criticism was made on this
plan and pages after pages were written on the certain failure of this
However, the people of Pakistan had turned up in an
unprecedented number to cast their votes and political parties which
described it as a poison for the provincial autonomy felt obliged to
participate in these elections in their own way.
He expressed the hope that this new form of the
government mandated by the people would prove a boon for the
democracy. The process of election would be carried forward for
provincial and national assemblies as well as in a similar transparent
manner, he said.
The much talked about Agra summit must be viewed as
the most outstanding political event of the year. Although it did not
result in an immediate solution to the most disturbing issue of
Kashmir both for Pakistan and India, yet the visit of Gen. Pervez
Musharraf certainly helped breaking the ice and globalization of the
Commening on the Kashmir issue, the President said
that he was willing to go to any length to keep good ties with India
and settle disputes between the two neighbours. He wanted further
talks with India after this summit with Indian Prime Minister Atal
Behari Vajpayee last month. "We are in favour of further talks on
the Kashmir dispute and other issues of differences with India without
sacrificing our sovereignty, national honour and our national dignity.
We are willing to go to any length in order to maintain friendly
relations with all our neighbours which is particularly true with
regard to India because we are convinced that without the amicable
solution of the Kashmir dispute the two countries cannot progress, he
The good governance which was among the top of
agenda of the present government has yet to be achieved. The
corruption, arrogance and highhandedness which has become the identity
of the ruling class, right from a foot constable to top bureaucrat
still continue to prevail. Despite the fact that the present
government has taken various effective measures to weed out the
corruption at least on the top level, yet the curse of corruption
still exist among the ranks and file. They continue to pose as they
are born to rule the people. They have yet to realize the fact that
they are the paid servants and their justification in the service is
to serve the people and not to rule over. Unless this misconception is
totally eradicated from every corner of the government organizations,
the concept of good governance will remain a dream in this country.
The ever increasing rate of unemployment, ever
increasing cost of living, health and education are the issues need to
be addressed. These issues are the indicators of the economic health
swamped by the huge foreign debts adding to the suffering of the poor
Taking note of the situation, the government has
announced separation of Judiciary from Executive. This was certainly
yet another historic decision aiming at speedy justice to the poor at
their doorsteps and improve the performance of the police force.
Declaring the separation of judiciary from
Executive, the President said "a new political culture was being
introduced by saying goodbye to 158-year-old colonial legacy. To
lessen burden from the civil courts, the government would introduce
Small Claims and Minor Offences Courts which would be part of the
present hierarchy of the courts, he declared.
"Reconciliation courts are to be set up so
that people are rescued from unnecessary litigation and decisions are
taken promptly, he explained. He said district and executive
magistracy had been abolished while a new prosecution service was
being set up. There would be a separate police force for maintenance
of law and order and investigation.
Likewise, he said a Public Safety Commission would
be established at district, provincial and federal levels to oversee
the performance of police force and check it from getting politicized
to make a qualitative improvement in its working.
In respect of administrative authority, the
President said now 12-13 departments including the DCO would be
subordinate to the District Nazim in respect of control and
coordination of a district.
He however made it clear that the Government was
not against the District Management Group whose career progression
from grade 17 to 22 would remain intact. There was now a basic change
in the system of responsibility. To him, the President said, it was of
secondary importance if a person was affected while Pakistan society
attained strength and got boost.
He said that corruption had been checked at higher
levels and it was time that it was checked at the lower levels too.
The President expressed his full confidence that
the newly elected District Nazims and Naib Nazims would not fail and
come up to the expectations of the people.
An immediate ban put on two sectarian organizations
— Lashkar-I-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Muhammad imposed on the independence
day was generally welcomed even by the people affiliated with the two
In the decision to check every growing incidents of
sectarian clashes and killings it was also warned that activities of
two other organizations i.e. Sipah-i-Sahaba and Tehrik-i-Jafaria —
would be watched.
The President who warned the Sipha-i-Sahaba and
Tehrik-i-Jafaria has said that he would not hesitate to ban them also.
Nobody would be allowed to incite sectarian and ethnic hatred among
the people and for that a law, in an amended form, was being
The law prescribed stringent punishment for
terrorism, he said and added that the chief justice had already issued
instructions for the disposal of terrorism cases on priority basis.
Law enforcement agencies including the Police and Rangers have been
instructed to carry out operations against sectarian and ethnic
organizations. About the drive against illegal arms, he said that
targeted operations would be carried out for the recovery of illicit
arms. He noted that in the initial phase of the campaign, the recovery
rate was quite satisfactory and that over 125,000 arms had been
recovered. But the rate of arms recovery since then had slowed down.
He said that efforts would be stepped up for the purpose through
operations to selected localities. He said that display of arms had
been brought under control to a great extent. The arms display in
society had been damaging the country's image and scaring away
domestic and foreign investors. He regretted that ethnic and sectarian
extremism had caused immense damage to the country and projected it as
an intolerant society. We do not have a magic wand but measures were
being taken for the restructuring of the police force, he said. As a
part of the police restructuring, a special prosecution service under
the control of provincial government was being set up to ensure
expeditious disposal of cases in courts.
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf also unfolded a new
economic strategy that seeks to undertake 20 mega development projects
costing over Rs200 billion during next 3 years. The new economic era
is being ushered to make the country strong both politically and
economically, the President observed.
Speaking to the newly elected Nazims and Naib
Nazims, he said that the proposed development projects will not only
improve the country's GDP growth rate but also provide jobs to one
million people in the country. He said he himself would visit most of
the places from August 15 to 21 to launch these projects with a view
to alleviating poverty and giving a real kick-start to the economy.
The major projects include Gomal Zamzam Dam, Mirani Dam, Greater Thal
Canal project, Right Bank Outfall drainage project (RBOD), development
of coastal highways, Chashma Right Bank Canal project, Greater Quetta
Water Supply project, Northern Bypass and the initiation of Turbat-Band
road project in Balochistan.
In addition to these projects, the feasibility
study was currently being conducted for some more projects which
include Kachi Canal project, supply of 100 gallon water project in
Karachi, undertaking M-3 and M-4 motorway project, building of
Gwadar-Turbat road and Gwadar port with the help of China and the
development of Thar Coal project in Sindh.
Out of these 20 projects, the President will launch
9, while remaining projects will be undertaken by March 23, 2002 after
having completed their feasibility studies.
The President assured that there would not be any
shortage of funds to start these mega developed projects. We have
already lined huge local and foreign resources for these projects, he
Pakistan had the biggest coal reserves at Thar in
Sindh, which needed to be development at the earliest. These
unprecedented huge reserves of coal could help generate 3000 MW of
electricity by using Thar coal. He said that initiation of new
development projects would not only help alleviate poverty but also
greatly help some of the important sectors of the economy like steel,
cement and construction industries. He regretted that Pakistan leaders
and politicians did not gave attention to improve the economy.
"But we have started taking timely actions to revive the
Roadmap for democracy
A roadmap for the restoration of democracy was also
unveiled by the President on this occasion. It provides guidelines for
holding elections to the national, provincial and the senate in
The election process, which will be completed in
four phases, will also incorporate several amendments to the
The election process would be completed through a
strategic plan within the parameters provided by the Supreme Court.
The elections for the national and provincial
assemblies will be held between October 1 to October 11, 2002.
While announcing the election schedule, President
Musharraf said that he has fulfilled one of his major promises to hold
elections within the timeframe given by the Supreme Court:
Giving the details of his plan, Gen. Musharraf said
the first phase towards restoration of democracy has been completed
with the installation of district governments, which have become
functional from August 14, 2001.
During the second phase, he said which start from
September 1, 2001 and ends on June 30, 2002; the constitution of
Election Commission and commencement of delimitation of constituencies
would be finalized by October this year. The finalization of the
proposed constitutional amendments to introduce checks and balances
and their release for public analyses and comments would be completed
by May 2002.
The announcement of constitutional amendments and
completion of electoral rolls and delimitation of constituencies will
be finalized by June 30, 2002. During the third phase, Gen. Musharraf
said, exact dates would be announced on July 10-11, 2002 for general
elections to the national, provincial assemblies and senate. On Aug 1,
2002, the Election Commission will notify the election schedule.
Filing of the nomination papers and their scrutiny, publication of the
final list of candidates, allotment of symbols, printing of ballot
papers, nomination of returning officers and designation of polling
stations will be announced on August 7, 2002.
The President said that transfer of power to the
elected representatives would be completed between October and
November 2002 during which oath-taking of the elected members of the
national, provincial assemblies and senate, election of the speaker
and deputy speakers of the assemblies and chairman and deputy chairman
of Senate and the formation of federal and provincial governments will
During this period the federal and provincial
governments will be formed followed by address of the President to the
joint session of the parliament.
General Musharraf hoped that setting-up of district
governments at the grass roots level and the completion of the general
election in October next year would establish true democracy in
He however sounded a note of warning that there
would be strong checks and balances to ensure that the new system
worked to the satisfaction of the people of this country. He said that
new system would discourage corruption. He pointed out that on October
12, 1999 the present government found a situation where most
institutions of state were either dysfunctional or were on the verge
of collapse. Democracy had regressed into autocracy, dissent even
within the ruling party had been prohibited by law, Centre's rule
imposed on a province by misusing emergency powers and the Supreme
Court had been subjected to physical assault.
The economy was in a state of virtual collapse and
the investors' confidence stood shattered due to freezing of foreign
currency accounts. Also taxation and accountability authority had been
misused and massive loans were written off and defaults condoned, he
Besides introducing the new form of government at
the local government level, major changes in the police department and
the separation of judiciary from administration, the financial sector
of the country is expected to witness some major events by the end of
The government owned shares in some major
institutions are to be made public through stock market. Among these
institutions are MCB, NBP, Pakistan Oilfields Ltd and Attock Refinery
Ltd. The privatization of UBL, HBL, PTCL and KESC is also not far
One may hope that with implementation of the
economic agenda of the present government the agony of the poor will
also come to an end.