A dysfunctional political system

The recent events in Pakistan bespeak volumes of various imperial intrigues which may desire that the state may suffer if the end result helps those in charge of the current show. By imperial I mean, the presidency and the pivotal place that has been accorded to the foreign elements in the management of the policies of Pakistan. Such an outcome and its ultimate realisation will depend on the internal dynamics of the state and the society. Perhaps the latter phenomenon alone can actually make or break a state. It will be foolhardy to deny that because of such phenomenon the state may well be already on the road to implode since the presidency and the prevalent political system are stymied and utterly dysfunctional. The foremost focus of everyones attention is the massive allegation of corruption against the president and the undoing of the NRO by the Supreme Court. Yet, naively it is hoped by most that this judgment may still be executed. However, many fail to understand why President Asif Zardari has increased his own burdens by keeping in tact the persons who are accused of corruption? Many are there by virtue of the NRO. The perennial disregard of transparency in government ensures that it is now utterly stymied, unable to do much in any realistic sense. I think that feeling totally toothless Zardaris civilian set up raised the spectre of the countrys dissolution by actively, but unsuccessfully, playing the Sindh card. He denies doing this, insisting that he has Pakistans interests at heart. While this nature of devastation was avoided for the time being, the basic disconnect between constitutional propriety and reality is most bothersome. This is the simple foundation of the systems basic dysfunctional character. Even the opposition does not have a clue what to do. The mental bankruptcy of the current leadership is its inability to develop a sense of urgency to play their constitutional roles in accordance with the established norms of a government. Moreover, the most fundamental measures that are required for Pakistans survival as a viable state depend on how the current issues are negotiated: whether the 17th Amendment is rescinded; the courts are respected; the problem of social neglect is tackled; and that someone among the rulers finally stands up to external imperialist forces rather than prostrating before their praetorian diktats. Needless to say, that the domestic security situation has gone berserk not entirely because the military is going after the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan rather these horrifically random suicide attacks are a result largely of sloppy intelligence and the lack of coordination among different security services. Most importantly neither the government nor indeed the US, which has been allowed to utilise its private agencies and aerial drones, realises the simple fact of public anger at such policies. I am currently at Harvard and know only too well what this notion really signifies. In the Massachusetts Senate race it is not merely a fluke, but an affirmation of the age-old truth that enabled an unknown and obscure republican politician to wrest decisively an election from that last bastion of progressive politics in the US. It is need of the hour that the Pakistans preservation must somehow take into account the rudimentary significance of such simple notions in government: honesty, ability rather than encouragement of sycophancy for public offices, a modicum of pride in nationalism and transparency of purpose in policies. The writer is attorney at law (US), senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and professor at the Harvard University.

The writer is barrister at law (US and UK), senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and professor at Harvard University.


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