04 February, 2013
By Amjad Malik
2013 along with many other things brought a hope of fresh polls in Pakistan. Many alliances are emerging and candidates taking positions to flex their muscles to woo the will of their voters who ultimately decide the fate of 'future govt' in that ballot box battle. Due to the reversing the dictatorial manipulations by 18h & 20th amendments, now Govt and opposition jointly with consensus will give the reign to caretakers who will administer whilst Election Commission holds elections in 90 days of the expiry of the tenure of the current regime. Good omen is that the name which are circling around are those who have long established reputation by working in their respective field and have earned respect to be eligible to be amongst top ten. I personally am a great admirer of Mr. Achakzai & Nasir Aslam Zahid LJ, and Asma the lioness but anything and everything can happen in the field of politics.
A few issues which will be up for tv talks are worth mentioning here are the likely Caretakers, unbiased CEC, role of media , Judiciary & military, and on top of that all 'corruption'. To start with, corruption is core to the hearts of many critics and some blanket analysts seem in hurry to 'bell this cat' first. To me, mismanagement of public funds, mis governance and scandalous corruption have been the essence of current government but having said that the slow speed judicial oversight made it possible to periodically startle them with their judgements. NRO judgement, so as Mehran Bank, Memogate, Punjab Bank, Rental Power orders are to name a few where Judiciary tapped on the hands of executive and checked the flow of mal management to facilitate an anti corruption debate in the masses through media without destabilising the system.
President Zardari played his cards right to complete the tenure without resorting to a witch hunt through NAB hence the govt is completing its 5 years trouble free. Now is the time for smooth transition of civil power to who people would like govern and serve Pakistan. Once the new regime is installed, the process of anti corruption policy, law, and actions may be accelerated. Some benefit of the doubt remains in favour that Govt had to undo Military dictator's left over laws as well as civil govt did not vindictively put political opponents behind the bar this time. Having said that 'national Accountability Commission' remained toothless too and these are the issues which will be a challenge for new incumbent government, and must remain before them if an economic rise is to attain.
Role of media, judiciary and military will determine the smooth transition pace , tempo and results. If media transparently inform the public the good and bad and the difference I see no reason why this very public cannot make an informed choice to elect a clean administration. It can also put moral pressure on parties by carrying out an effective scrutiny of their character, conduct and past activities good or bad. Judiciary and army will adjudicate and administratively make possible to implement the swift implementation of the directives of the Chief Election Commissioner respectively in their remits. If at any point emphasis shift from holding free elections to ridding corruption or saner sanctified set up of technocrats then I can only wish for the best for the country. My experience tells that those who came with seven points agenda to rid Pakistan of corruption in 2 years ran with their tail between their legs with 'National reconciliation Ordinance' pardoning thousands of hard core criminals of their guilt of corruption, greed, gluttony, and wrong doing only to muster a safe exit for their lives. Some died in the transit even.
Fakhur uddin G Ibrahim as CEC has been chosen to perform a duty no one dares to accept to hold free and fair elections in polarised Pakistan. Seeing eye to eye with stake holders and persuading all political parties with the will, determination and wisdom as well as asking them to obey his directives is an art seldom possessed by our civil autocrats in the country. Let's hope he does not resign as in the nick of time he is in the hobbit of rubbishing the bullshit by going home in a foxy he came in. He is installed by political consensus and let's hope the very consensus remains intact.
Caretakers must be above board personalities who must not side with any political entity and administer the transitional govt in a way that no one can raise finger with political bias, distrust or nepotism. I know some critics feel that distribution of resources and funds is part of rigging elections, and I second that CEC must take notice strictly once the elections are announced and now cautiously in the run up to the elections as major expenders must be audited with great care and scrutiny so that no one could manipulate for the short term political advantage. To me, giving to public is still better than slashing in Swiss banks where no one could ever withdraw, no one ever.
In conclusion, Pakistan has the capacity and capability as a state to find a few good men who can hold free and fair elections and give public a hope of a new dawn at a time recession, unemployment, despondency. At the same time we have no dearth of a few bad eggs wither who can destroy the very chance of putting country on a sustained civilian process. Let's hope good overpowers the evil and we can see a new Pakistan a country where dreams can come true and people could flourish where conscience is not tested at the altar of poverty, employment, health care and or food. Let's hope, in fact lets pray together that corruption is no more and justice prevails in our individual and national life and true democracy enriches the soil.