18TH AMENDMENT AND LONGSTANDING PUBLIC ISSUES

AYESHA ALI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

May 3 - 16, 2010

Upper and lower houses passed the 18th amendment. Finally, it has become a part of the constitution. Pakistan has never observed such consensus over the core issues of the country.

This insertion in the constitution cannot help feed the starved or educate the young ones.

It is my hope that the nation will once again be driven by a sense of purpose just as it was when the constitution was adopted. It is my hope that the doors of dictatorship have been closed forever. Innocents are dying due to poor medical facilities, illiteracy, unemployment, electricity failures, terrorism and inflation is on the rise and no body is ready to address these issues.

The slogans of democracy lack the force to feed the hungry. The government is already making every effort to overcome energy shortage, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, inadequate health facilities, rural and the regional backwardness.

The conflict of Pukhtunkhwa, (the new name reflecting the Pashtun ethnic majority of the province, which predominately speaks Pashto), and the lawyers' retaliation over the parliamentary commission to approve or reject judges' nominations by the Supreme Court chief justice, slogans like jiay Bhutto, Jiay Nawaz Sharif and Jiay Altaf exhibit the euphoria without solving the long standing national issues.

Such expressions lead only to the utter disappointment in the masses and precipitate disintegration on disastrous level. However, an earnest yearning still exists for a similar unanimity of the politicians focusing on the devastating problems.

The realities are quite stark. The presidential and other popular views which condemn the previous regime for the deterioration of the situation, poor governance, lack of transparency, corruption, energy shortfalls and hopeless security concerns indicate the staggering plight of the present government.

The ever-rising inflation, extinct peace and stability, unaccountability, and terrorists playing havoc have added bitterness in the professional and even personal lives of the have-nots.

Education is considered as the strongest pillar of a nation's success. But, the depressing condition of education in Pakistan bears an ample testimony of the economic downfall in Pakistan.

In Human development Report Pakistan is placed at 136th position for having just 49.9 per cent educated populace.

Pakistan is in the grip of a serious energy crisis that is harmfully affecting all sectors of the economy in general and the various segments of the society in particular. Taking a comprehensive view of all the possible solutions, there are hardly any immediate options to resolve this issue. A change of attitude on part of the parliamentarians is needed to trigger the process of energy conservation.

Some sort of arrangement is realized through short and long-term solutions to the crisis with quick planning and efficient execution.

The reasons behind energy crisis are poor management, lopsided priorities and lack of accountability on part of those who stay at the helm of affairs.

With the help of effective electronic and print media campaigns, the government can quickly educate the masses. Our self-centered ruling class should start taking the responsibility to set trends and examples in matters of power conservation. If the consensus is arrived at the vested political interests the same is not a far-fetched reality in cases of Kalabagh dam and such other pending or dumped projects which surely can serve superior national interests.

The present asset replacement value of National Highways exceeds Rs600 billion. This amount can be accounted as the largest single asset investment in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the road network in almost all the major cities of Pakistan is shabby.

The existing infrastructure is insufficient. Moreover, the roads need reconstruction. Building process of inter-city and intra-city structures including Makran Coastal Highway, Gwadar port, Lowari Tunnel, Faisalabad -Multan Motorway project, Kuchlar - Zhob Road Project, Peshawar - Torkham Express Project, Karachi - Hyderabad Express Project, Larkana Bridge Project, Jarkhand - Chillas Road Project, Tarnol - Fatejang Kohat Road Project, Lower Topa - Kohala Project must be expedited.

The government has to utilize its resources in building, educating and encouraging people to be more considerate to maintain safe, comfortable and convenient road network. Day by day, more public attention should be focused towards the construction, maintenance and renovation of the transportation system.

The urban passenger transport sector in Pakistan is characterized by a high growth in private vehicles mainly motorcycles and cars, with a vast dependence on the public transport vehicles like buses or wagons, depressing road structures, high rate of the public conveyance and inadequate investments in the development of the infrastructure.

This has resulted in a poor urban transport service besides increasing congestion and environmental problem in the urban cities and calls for modal shift in favour of high capacity vehicles.

The rising costs of petrol and diesel have made the local transport expensive for the middle and lower classes. The situation becomes extremely troublesome for all the local transport passengers during peak hours and the school and the office timings.

After political bargains and the achievement of vested interest it's high time the authorities take immediate action on the violation of traffic rules, and arrange for launching more buses to tackle the painful situation.

The State Bank of Pakistan declared that the inflationary pressures would be mitigated and the average inflation would come down to 8 per cent in the fiscal year of 2010. However, the energy shortfalls and the power shortages in addition to the worsening law and order situation have left little hope in bringing about the eventual fall in the inflation.

Terrorism and uncertainties have engulfed the entire nation. Militants give tough time to the authorities of the federal government and all the provinces in the country. This leaves a gigantic ambiguity regarding the strength of the political leadership and the necessary will to uproot the terrorism hints at the failure of the administration to respond adequately and recover some measure of control.

The year 2009 has been regarded as the bloodiest year yet. Pakistan is in a state of tribulation among the multi faceted problems. 2009 registered at least 11,585 fatalities, though the actual numbers could be significantly higher. Since the media access is heavily restricted in the troubled areas of Pakistan, and there is only a careful release of information by the government agencies.

The social costs of the militancy, the cost of infrastructure development, the economic and the subsequent environmental loss and the tarnishing of the national image are the biggest matters that need quick actions to be taken.

Despite the surge in violence, the government continued to follow its delaying tactics and insincere approach which has aggravated the situation. The countless cases of women harassment, child labor and exploitation, sectarian violence exceeded remarkably.

In the backdrop of terrorism and militancy, the international community offers no solution except the fulfillment of narrow religious and political agendas, which tarnished the image of the country and exposed the weaknesses of the government's proficiency.

Pakistan's societal equilibrium and political stability are threatened by the complicated challenges of the religious intolerance. A poor finds democracy hard to digest in view of unemployment, favoritism, violence, militancy, poverty, nepotism, suppression, energy shortages and jihadi culture and pace of the regional and global environment. These domestic ailments have compromised Pakistan's potential to cope with the global or international diplomacy.

It is the demand of the time to attract foreign investors and encourage them to bring their capital into Pakistan. Since the flight of capital has adversely affected Pakistan's economy and broken its links with the global economy.

The main sources of Pakistan's current troubles are internal and political. Political intolerance has caused social and cultural distortions in Pakistan.