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Revival of Parliamentary oversight

16 May, 2011

By Amjad Malik


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13 May 2011 in camera session of the joint sitting of the parliament resulting in a  parliament’s joint resolution condemning the 2 May violation of its territorial integrity and setting up a commission to probe its failure pinpoint the need of the revival of the parliamentary oversight over national security matters. It is not only timely but the need of the hour to strengthen civilian rule in Pakistan. ISI is not army, and army is not Government, and of course govt is not Parliament and Parliament is not the people itself but only its voice and state is above all. All these intermediate institutions are not state but its organs. Any fault with any of the organ in the chain may not be the fault of the institution, Govt, or people and or state. Beauty of the  argument is how to maintain our system of review and Parliamentary and judicial oversight intact as that is the key to make the system robust, trustworthy and reliable. If all stand in one line and claim and maintain innocence, then either they are all guilty as charged, or all innocent and incompetent a lesser charge but that is a dangerous trend which kills improvement chances. Its a game of control, revival of oversights force you to give some power to other and accept your follies and ready to improve. Not at all means head hunting, or witch hunting but realising one’s weaknesses, ready for clear insight and assessment internally or externally through trusted auditors and suggest way forward to improve to meet challenges. 

America’s hit and run on 2 May killing or capturing Osama dead or alive is an eye opener for Pakistanis. They can either act as fools like they did on the ‘match fixing’ saga of three cricketers and instead of keeping a distance between plays, board, and Govt and in return holding accountability at parliamentary sports committee level, they stood in one line and declared it a conspiracy and God knows what. They came up with funniest and foolish conspiracy theories, excuses, and warnings and allegations and people later found the Borad high ups apologising for their untimely statements. Same is the situation at hand post 2 may tragic failure which raises valid questions, requires answrs, and a probe to ensure accountability. One man, is not an institutor and one institution is not Pakistan. Pakistan is a chain of several institutions, a country of 170 million which sometimes is run under a parliament or on some occasion under a military dictatorship. Both use qua sai people’s mandate to run this country. But so far both used it as a market place (Jumma bazaar ) where they came, set up their stalls, sold their goods, made profit and run without accountability. Everyone made profit, and everyone avoided answers and accountability. Parliamentary resolution has broken the reactory damage which may act as a spoiler between the national security organisation (army) and its people of Pakistan. That’s the trust  on which army breathe and take pride on this psychological edge of an emotion bondage between the institution and its people. Military post 1958 held control who and how long an individual will set up their stall, of course using the authority on the name of people. 2 May incident hampered that very authority, trust and confidence. Enemies took maximum opportunity on this point of weakness and failure.

Pakistan is a land of opportunity and Pakistani nation a vibrant full of skill and talent has a potential to do any and everything. But due to lack of infrastructure and leadership due to chain of military coup de tats clear guidance is lacking and civil systems could not get out of grouses and complaints against institutions. I find it funny when western thinkers predict Pakistan’s existence in doubt as to me, it will live forever because it has a potential and replacement of individual, skill, and asset is twofold. One can be replaced by two talented individual. Key is in finding a path. Parliament now has many issues to consider, but constitutional, judicial, Social, and nationalism are the key one’s. First and foremost task ahead is to liberate the Parliament from the unseen pressures and fears . There is no doubt that in the past we have mutilated the constitution badly into  a position that its neither Islamic nor western but a mixture of all making it neither Presidential nor Parliamentary. 18th amendment to the 1973 constitution put some back but still a lot to do. We also need to determine the role of army in politics. Hamood ur Rehman commission was quick to depict our weaknesses earlier in 70’s and in particularly quoted on e of the witness in his report that " While learning the art of politics in this newly assigned role to themselves, they gradually abandoned their primary function of the art of soldiering."

2 May debacle draws our attention towards fall of Dhaka and incidents like ‘Siachen’ and ‘Kargill’ and we need to decide, do we still wish to keep the role of army in our politics, if yes, Parliamentary defence committee (DCC) could be broadened further giving more representation and say of army commanders in it. If the answer is negative, which to me is just, then Parliament may consider ending ‘the law of necessity’ once for all, and restore necessary oversights. Second most important task would be to create an independent judiciary which in true sense can act as a buffer zone between the power struggle of politicians and Generals and may act given the opportunity as an arbitrator to absorb all the shocks to the state and handle any tussle between the institutions in accordance with the law of the land . It also can accommodate adjudication on issues where provinces have a grudge with the other, it can safeguard the national interest. We need to knit ourselves to one nation without caring our geographical heritage or regional location in order to combat the 21st century war of information. Apart from using urdu language as a tool to canvass and widen our reach to our people other than masters voice (English). I would go one step further and would recommend national disciplinary service to train the whole nation towards rule of law & basic defence drive so that we as a nation start to learn respecting the  law of the land.

Common Pakistanis are hit by price hike, lawlessness, and are suffering due to lack of educational, health and social welfare facilities and above all, they are perturbed by political Mullah’s role in our day to day life. Extremism is multiplying and lack of stable political activity is doubling the radicalisation in our attitude where poverty and unemployment throw a bait to the rich mafia to do dirty and manipulate the young uneducated radical mind to use suicidal attacks as a fire work. Political business reduce tension and put people on table to solve problems. Pakistan needs a national drive of reconciliation to set up a political system and ponder on a serious social charter where nation which lacks infrastructure can come nearer to a dream to get justice, economic strength and basic necessities like free education, state health service and employment. Govt must consider granting the dictatorship ridden Pakistan a ray of hope where social welfare dream comes true. People are once again at a stage where we have to decide and revive the principle and discipline ourselves to beat other nations with progress, modernity of mind and prosperity of our life style. Pakistan is in serious trouble at the hands of a few and the nation can beat this faceless enemy who is after its progress, modernity, and conservatism. Pakistan begs this very question if the country comes first then heads of institution(s) will have to sacrifice self interest and promote those oversights to save institutions and the state of Pakistan. Army may have saved the day on 13th May through a joint parliamentary resolution on the day, but task is bigger and it will not be achieved alone. Salvation is in unity. Is it not what Article 5 of the constitution 1973 says, “ (1) loyalty to the state is the basic duty of every citizen.” Let the 170 million souls show loyalty to the state of Quaid e Azam on this occasion of despair, and opportunity by keeping supporting and recruiting the in Parliament the best of best and I hope they win in facing the challenges ahead as restoring institutionalised oversights is the way forward.

 

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