Moving forward or backwards

The opposition parties are planning to organise an All Parties Conference (APC) after Eid-ul-Azha to plan the way forward. Those who have taken the country backwards in the last forty years (1977 to 2018) are now in a position to tell us the way forward? What a brilliant transformation. Those who have conspired against the nation, looted and plundered its assets, burnt important public records and destroyed national institutions are now going to come up with solutions to correct our ailments. Takht-e-Lahore and Larkana can no longer befool a nation of over 220 million suffering souls.
I agree with the Prime Minister (PM), that forty years of backwardness cannot be corrected in twenty-four months, but there has to be a definite and visible way forward. Currently there is a stalemate, those who have taken us back are talking about the way forward to confuse the nation while those at the helm are unable to break the shackles of the status quo and expeditiously move forward. The task is not simple. There is a complete collapse of civilian institutions. I agree with Ayaz Amir, the performance on ground has been missing for a while. In most offices, people do not even show up for work on time. Abbas Khan, was a Police Officer (PSP) who had the unique distinction of serving as Inspector General (IG) in all four provinces of Pakistan. In Punjab, he held a press conference to reveal that criminals had been inducted into the force during the last thirty years.
There is no agenda for public welfare, most debates are centred around protecting the corruption of their leadership. The public is disillusioned and disinterested with the agenda of the looters and will not respond to their call. Recently PML-N tested the public mood with their protest hunger strike camps in Lahore which badly failed. PPP (Bhutto) was once a political force to be reckoned with, but PPP (Zardari) has neutralised the party of the Bhuttos. Bilawal is walking a fine line, his only chance is to break away from the past and be his own man. The Sharifs are on the run or in hibernation. The entire opposition is totally ineffective.
PTI struggled for over two decades. It was the first party to have think tanks and a shadow cabinet. An agenda for change was formulated together with an effective team. Most of the homework to move the country forward had been completed before 2011, under the leadership of Comrade Ahsan Rashid. Then came the onslaught of the electables. In the words of Donald Trump, a negative experience is a disqualification. He challenged his opponent in the presidential elections on her poor record while in the government as Secretary of State.
By 2013, PTI had peaked with its old guard together with some newcomers but was robbed of its due share in the assemblies by the forces of NRO. The police and patwaris were given a free hand. The Judicial Commission headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan that investigated the election pointed out several irregularities in the process.
In my analysis, it was a repeat of the 1970 elections when the forces of change had made a strong comeback. Instead of the 35 seats, if PTI had entered the parliament with 60 to 70 members with Imran Khan as leader of the opposition, Pakistan could have been saved from the loot and plunder that followed (2008 to 2018).
The elections in 2018 were very peaceful and orderly. With about 70 to 80 electables contesting on the PTI ticket, the forces of status-quo were not threatened. There were reports of pre-election arm twisting of certain candidates whose dossiers were with the agencies. The police, patwaris and the dead voters were kept out. The result transmission system did not work as planned, creating some doubts. PTI managed a narrow victory in Punjab, there was no blatant absolute majority which is typical of rigged elections.
Pakistan needs a way forward for which PTI has the team and framework but they are currently not included in the playing eleven as they say. People believe and trust the Kaptaa,n but the faces around him in the arena are mostly old, failed and tried. Several terms are used for such players e.g. spent ammunition, fired cartridges, old wine in new bottles etc. Even with clean and honest leadership at the top the expectations of the people are not being met. Though the decline or backwards push has been checked or neutralised, the way forward is not clear or fully presented by the government. If the forces of backwardness succeed in creating trouble at all then the entire system will have to go as there can be no going back to the old corrupt ways. Accountability and conviction of the corrupt through the prevalent common law system is almost impossible.
While no accused has been exonerated, reliance has been on delays and bails; the poor man must be turning in his grave. While opposition parties will get together to discuss the way backwards, I suggest that the rest should get together to formulate a workable way forward to restore the purity of the land of the pure to put an end to the era of immoral politics of the last forty years. Najib Tun Razak, the deposed PM of Malaysia has been convicted of corruption, the sentence calls for 15-20 years of imprisonment and 5 times the return of laundered money. After such a verdict, I am sure our Malaysian brothers will be able to move forward. Every time I have been to that country, they have asked me the same question, “What is wrong with your system, you Pakistanis have played a key role in building Malaysia.” Where are those Pakistanis hiding today?

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email:

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