Over the years, fraud totalling Rupees 3 Trillion has been committed. Misappropriation, graft and embezzlement has taken place at every stage. Reports of Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee are mind boggling. The directions, decrees and decisions of the highest judiciary are flouted with self assumed impunity and misused immunity. This cannot be an acceptable norm for long.

By Ijazul Haq

The people, political analysts, print and electronic media are all abound and abuzz with one liner – “Change is in the air”. But no one is certain as to how and who would effect the change. But the change, has to and shall come – whether smooth or with a Bang. We need to pray that it is Democratic. Better for the country and better for the Nation.

Corruption has assumed monstrous proportions. The perception, that the Government is hell bent to promote corruption and protect the corrupt. The NAB (National Accountability Bureau) has been deliberately rendered toothless and headless for long. Over 750 cases of corruption are reported pending at the NAB; the major scams and scandals involving close aides, allies and scions of the mighty. Through coercion, hindering investigation, hampering and tampering evidence and obstructing justice, several cases have been rendered legless to stand trial and conviction. Over the years, fraud totalling Rupees 3 Trillion has been committed. Misappropriation, graft and embezzlement has taken place at every stage. Reports of Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee are mind boggling. The directions, decrees and decisions of the highest judiciary are flouted with self assumed impunity and misused immunity. This cannot be an acceptable norm for long. Justice must prevail even if the heaven falls.

Five years term for Assemblies and the Government carries natal inhibitions and is too long to demolish and destroy the nascent institutions. A serious consideration must be given to curtail the duration to four years. The incumbent Assemblies and Parliament are of little consequence. The seats are mostly occupied by tax evaders, loan defaulters and fake degree holders. For Reserved and Nomination seats, only the near and dear ones qualify. Little wonder if, living and residing under one roof- more and many MPs – all scions, sons and siblings – some elected, the rest nominated. Over 3 Crores bogus votes have been detected under directions by the Supreme Court. It is time to take to task all those who have got their loans written off feigning bankruptcy at one premises and continue simultaneously with thriving business at another location. The amounts eaten away must return to the exchequer as directed by the Supreme Court. Such members must be barred for elections. Those with dual nationalities and assets abroad must also be debarred. These ill gotten assets and wealth stashed in foreign coffers be brought back through an amnesty or similar concessional facility. A National Judicial Accountability Commission be created comprising men of integrity, drawn from judiciary and bureaucracy. It must be an independent body outside the influence and interference of the Executive and political parties.  For across the board accountability, there should be no holy cow. Only ruthless, transparent, swift and speedy accountability can rid the society of this menace. Election Laws and Political Parties Act warrant revision. A neutral and independent Election Commission is an inescapable Must.

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For economic revival, a viable economic and fiscal policy must be devised and followed. Mega projects like Thar coal, exploiting existing water resources, constructing small dams and power generating units must be undertaken immediately. Instead of minting fuel levies, the diesel, petrol and electricity be made available cheaper and affordable. Agriculture input and implements at cheaper price, subsidies and support price for cash crops will have salutary effect on economic and financial health of a vast majority of our people. Bringing more land under cultivation and taxing big land lords will generate employment opportunities for the rural youth and accrue additional revenues.

In Balochistan many military actions have taken place. Baloch insurgency and rebel leaders must be pacified and their grievances addressed. The alienation intensified on sacking of provincial Government in 1973 leading to arrest of prominent politicians followed by a military operation. Balochistan remained peaceful till unfortunate elimination of Sardar Akbar Bughti in a shoot out at his hideout. Departure of Musharraf should have caused some calm but unfortunately it remains volatile. The Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan (Beginning of rights of balochistan) appears an appropriate omen if implemented with vigour and speed. Balochistan is boiling again. The Baloch President can play a perfect host to break bread with the enraged Baloch dissidents. He has his party government and following there. He must show more skill and acumen to woo and win the detracted Balochs sitting abroad. The Iran Pakistan gas project, seemingly a viable venture be expedited. Reportedly Iran has created and completed the logistic facilities up to its borders while civil works on our side have yet to take off. Peace and tranquillity in Balochistan will improve the security of our energy routes and installations. More reserves and sources of energy exploration be exploited in the prospective areas to increase indigenous productions.

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Bad governance, compounded by corruption, is at present the most contentious issue. It is now entering the worrisome phase and unless the senses prevail, will lead to disastrous consequences. A clash and collision of constitutional institutions is evident. At the time of Devolution and 18th amendment I had advocated the retention of National Security Council.  I had argued that this Council is a viable forum to avoid collision of institutions, avert clash of the Titans, and for conflict resolution.

National Security Council has been a focal issue for those with the capacity to reflect, ponder and foresee the national issues. It is not an infringement or intrusion in domain of governance of any party or power. Incidentally, it is misconstrued, misinterpreted and misunderstood.  For floating the idea and airing his views, an ingenious was made to leave in the lurch. As at present, oblivious to the impending risks, Executive is fast advancing on a war path with Judiciary.  The Judiciary finds Constitution, Law and majority of masses on its back where as the Executive has its coalition partners, party followers and Parliament. Any show down will bring incalculable national loss. Had there been a constitutional forum like the National Security Council available, the serious issue like this could have been conveniently referred to it for resolution.

Kalabagh dam project has received the most ardent opposition from Sindh and NWFP- more so ANP. At both places it is the PPP in power, alone or in coalition. The conditions are conducive and environ ideal.  Mr Zardari and the PPP are in a comfortable position to undertake the construction and completion of the project when the country is facing the worst power outages and food shortage.

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Leaving millions yelling and yearning hungry to the international mercies, alms and charities, the Leaders are more focused for self aggrandisement, promoting their heirs apparent for inauguration and coronation. National issues are being confused by gimmicks for personal glorification. Little care if by dozens die the ordinary by Drones, Dacoits and Target killers. It is time to take stock of the situation and arrest the slide. The nation is having apprehensions, a disconnect, and is susceptible about their un-enviable performance. National leadership ought to and must be geared to come to grips with conviction, consensus and commitment. Extra-ordinary situation and circumstances demand that all the Forces, all Organs of the state, political, non-political, apolitical, in and out of power, government, opposition, establishment, defence forces, the nation, the people, must be on the same page. Being on the same page, being on the same Grid – a National Grid – we can address the national issues and acquit ourselves with honour and dignity. This is what the masses expect of us and the Motherland demands of us. 

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