May 11 Elections are Landmark
07 May, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi
The May 11 elections will herald a genuine democratic era in Pakistan. The holding of elections by itself is a landmark accomplishment and a laudable threshold for the onset of a thus elusive democratic order. While the country is caught up in spiraling diabolic lawless and violence, it would be after a pretty long authoritarian spell that the dawn of a representative governance born by the popular vote, would shine at the land and smile at the people of Pakistan.
Powered by the popular mandate, the government in power would be fully competent and legitimate within her right to translate their pledges into concrete outcomes on the ground. The power belongs to the people and that phrase has been truly practiced and reinforced after a lull of long night of darkness and uncertainty. The new era is not going to be "God's kingdom on earth". But certainly it is going to be a harbinger and a prelude to a better future for a nation suffering so long at the hands of inept and self-seeking leaders.
By all reckoning there is going to be a hung mandate which means that no single party would be able to form a government. As such one can visualize that the regime coming to the fore would be a coalition government.
The army's role in these unsettling and fragile times has been sober, modest and detached. Otherwise there always was the enticing bait for the army to step in and capture power. General Kiani has to be genuinely commended for keeping the army away from the trapping of intervention on the pretext of bridling appalling lawlessness and curbing incessant violence that is still rife.
The outgoing PPP regime deserves a genuine credit for holding elections in face of overwhelming odds and the looming specter of army takeover. The media and judiciary of Pakistan also deserve huge applause and generous approbation for dispensing a pioneering and historic role during most murky times. Both these arms of civil society have been berated and occasionally maligned for demonstrating partisanship. But truthfully they deserve the entire nation's gratitude for serving their respective role and responsibilities in an aggressive and befitting manner.
The newly saddled government would be faced with some of the most pressing challenges to be addressed. The ideological dissensions, the ethnic malice and bias, the inter provincial rivalries, the danger of disintegration, the broken down system of basic civic services, soaring cost of living are priority issues to be addressed immediately.
Equally indispensable is curbing the epidemic of violence and terrorism. The dire need of good governance with the dispensation of unalloyed justice, an enlightened education system, universal literacy, and the health faculties for all, a clean and pollution free environment would be another set of reforms to be put in place. But most imperative would be the empowerment of the people for making decisions at their local levels, which means creating city governments or universally recognized local bodies system.
The development and creation of a massive infrastructure, boosting the industrial sector to restore the confidence of the business community and the transparency in departments from top to bottom are indispensable ingredients for a new Pakistan to emerge and be respected domestically and aboard.
The contours of the foreign policy have to be redrawn freeing Pakistan from the external hegemony and interference. The national sovereignty and integrity should become an article of faith with the new rulers. Pakistan direly needs to disengage itself from being a crony and hireling of the international hegemonic powers.
The economic health and prosperity is vital for the nation to come out of the morass of poverty and impoverishment. The culture of human rights, emancipation from taboos and superstition, elimination of sectarian discords and decadent fundamentalism, are priorities issues to be given urgent attention. Access to inexpensive, prompt and equal justice and availability of abundant basic civic amenities would spruce up and groom Pakistani society and provide a modicum of dignity of life to the citizens.
The list of modernizing Pakistan and putting it on the road to progress, prosperity and stability is not exhaustive. But at least a beginning should be made for a glorious and momentous journey that would gratify the future generations more than the existing one.
The centuries old abomination of feudalism and enslavement of the downtrodden has to be rooted out once and for all. The sway and overpowering influence of parasitical and comprador classes has to be doggedly curbed. The possibility of martial law and attendant cronyism subverting the democratic order has to be decisively obviated.
The rulers and the bureaucracy have to be bound by the ethics of simple living and made accountable to every penny they spend from the tax payers' money. The ruthless and insidious customs of exploitation of meek and marginalized by the powerful and influential segments and individuals has to be abolished.
We have to watch how after May 11, the new set up unfurls itself and how the formation of governments at federal and provincial levels come up. Would the new government, be humane tolerant and people friendly. Or else it would fall back upon serving the elite and aristocratic classes, feed party interests and filling their personal coffers? Would they earnestly make good their pledges and manifestos splashed during the electioneering campaigns.
Hopefully the upcoming leadership in Pakistan would fulfill their solemn commitments made to the nation and thus earn the honor of being trail blazers of a glorious destiny for Pakistan as well as the forerunners of an ensured resplendent future for its citizens. There is no gainsaying that Pakistan is blessed with enormous resources, immense potential and brilliant manpower to gallop on road to the progress and an all-embracing development in a much short span of time.
The writer is a US-based senior journalist, a former diplomat and editor of Diplomatic Times.