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Saturday, 21 April 2012

They have left us in a huff

Our country, Pakistan is endowed with virtually everything that one can ask for. Not only, is the country enviably rich in resources, but also in heritage and culture. Moreover, the country is strategically located, owing to the proximity to China and Central Asia. The founding fathers of the nation had envisaged a prosperous future; they wanted Pakistan to have a high status in the comity of nations. However, as of now, the country stands way below that status. Many critics say that dictatorship which remained the governing system for a good part of 3 decades; this theory may well be true, especially if we look at our neighbor, India which is fast developing as a regional power, has not ever seen a military chief abrogate their constitution. The last of the military regime ended initially, when the PPP led coalition took charge of the government in March, 2008 and then on 18th August, General Musharraf relinquished the presidency. Hence, after a lapse of 9 years, a democratic government under the premiership of Yusuf Raza Gillani was in-charge of the state. Army under the new chief, General Kayani went back to the barracks, and the judiciary was active in trying to restore the deposed judges. They were restored in March, 2009 during the long march. Hence, the role of the apex court has been pronounced in the last 4 years.
I have composed this article in trying to make the people cognizant of the fact that we have been left indignant by the  parliament/government  and the military. So, the subsequent paragraphs will shed light over the blemishes made by these institutions in the last 4 years. The article will take care of the incompetence of the government, in tackling with various issues, to include economy and foreign affairs. Then the military’s failures will be discussed in the ensuing pages; especially the Abbottabad debacle and the build-up of their massive empire.

Pakistan was under her fourth martial law from 1999 till 2008. However, the results of the 2008 elections was shocking for the king’s party; PML (N) and PPP won the elections, and soon made the coalition government, with Mr. Gillani being the prime minister. There were great expectations from this newly-elected government since the last few years had brought the popularity of General Musharaf to the nadir. However, our fellow countrymen were soon left indignant by the performance of the parliament. I don’t require a great deal of debate to back my  stance; the events are pretty much indicative of the government’s bad governance.
Over the course of four years, the parliament, I feel has been nothing, but a rubber stamp. The parliament has been ineffective; it passed two unanimous resolutions, one on 31st October, 2008 and the other on 14th May, 2011. These resolutions called for stopping drone attacks, and devising new terms for future ties with the US. However, both of these resolutions were futile; they were not acted upon; drones are thus far infiltrating in our territory and the US is continually browbeating us, not to forget their allegations against the army and ISI regarding links with the haqqani network. A parliament whose resolutions cannot be acted upon can only be called a rubber-stump, nothing else.
I  believe that the parliament can now be considered a white elephant. Well, if 342 MNA’s and 100 senators are paid close to rupees 3750 as daily allowances, and the fact that the parliament as a whole has done nothing substantial for the people of Pakistan; the power crisis has been aggravated in these years; our state corporations, to include PIA,Railway and steel mills have virtually gone to dogs. According to official reports the punctuality has reached abysmally low 65.5 percent and that less than half of its planes have been grounded; similarly, no cognizance has been taken for the killings in Balochistan and Karachi; the later was under severe ethnic violence, last year, but the parliament took a back seat. Then, the case of the missing persons has never been formally taken up by the parliament. The other blunders of the government will be discussed later, but if we just look at the things, already discussed then, certainly the parliament is a white elephant.
 Moreover, due to the staggering growth in unemployment rate, it is believed that the government has failed to deliver. According to CIA world fact book, the unemployment rate, from 7.4 in 2008 jumped to 14% in 2009, 15% in 2010, and 10.4% in 2011. Real GDP grew by a mere 2.4 % and the inflation rate was at 14.1 in the same year, according to the economic survey of Pakistan. This speaks volume of the government’s failure in delivering the desired results. The economy has been hampered by a tax evasion of 79% according to a World Bank study. 24 members of the cabinet including the prime minister are notable tax evaders, according to a report by GEO NEWS.
T he federal cabinet consists of incompetent people who know little about their portfolios.  We see that a surgeon is heading the petroleum ministry while, a businessmen is heading the ministry of defense.  Then it is noteworthy that ministers like Ameen Fahim, and Pervez Ashraf  are facing serious charges of corruption, but never has the prime minister taken any stern action against; which without doubt is his dishonesty with his duty. How can he control the cabinet when his own sons, Qadir Gilani and Ali Musa are under the radar ? He was, and perhaps still is filling important posts with his cronies; he made Adnan Khawaja, a criminal and a matriculated person as the head of OGDC, not to forget the appointment of his media advisor, Khurram Mansoor who is alleged for defrauding worth rupees 630 million.According to the latest report of transparency international, there has been corruption, worth 850 billion rupees. Now, by all means this shows the inability of the government in putting a lid on the curse of corruption. We feel that the government has made a policy statement on having a tussle with the judiciary, and now after the Memo gate scandal, the military has also entered the fray. Indeed, this is the case, be it the NICL, HAJJ, NRO or the Memo gate; the government has shown recalcitrance. Let’s take the last two cases, for they are proving to be the bone of contention. The Supreme Court, on 16th December, 2009 declared NRO as void and therefore ordained the government to write letter to the Swiss courts, but till date this has not been done, resulting in a contempt case on the PM.The memo gate scandal has once again brought the government and the military at loggerheads; the latter calls the memo gate as a serious threat to our sovereignty while, the former is calling it a piece of paper; the prime minister is nullifying the remarks of his military commanders and instead, says that since ISAF commander has called this as a non-issue, so it should be considered a past and closed transaction. The PM needlessly, on 21st December called the military a state within a state, and later called the submission of replies to the apex court by COAS and DG ISI, as unconstitutional. This led to a momentary crisis between the government and the military. As far as the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is concerned, we believe that since he is the head of his party; he should not be president, for the President is a person who should be politically neutral; he should not call the shots. He needs to relinquish at least one post. Seemingly, he has surrendered his powers to the PM, but we all know that even the PM cannot deviate from party policy; this makes Zardari the linchpin. The President , on 2nd May, wrote an article in Washington post where he lauded US forces for infiltrating in Pakistan and killing OBL. Should anyone expect the head of the state to say so; then his role in the memo gate scandal is flabbergasting, to be honest.  We feel that if the revelations in the memo gate scandal are proven then, the bus will stop on Mr. Zardari; he would then be responsible for toying with Pakistan’s sovereignty which is a momentous sin.
Thus far, I have lambasted the government, well and proper, but now will identify the blemishes made by the well- equipped and trained armed forces. There can be no repudiation regarding the fact that these armed men have given titanic sacrifices for the nation; they will receive all the eulogy for that, but since they take a great chunk of the federal budget they can be censured. There have been austere failures in the past few years which have raised many eyebrows, rightly so. In the federal budget 2011-12, budget outlay on defense account for 495,215 million rupees which saddles, the already dwindling economy. This figure pinches us when we see that the defense establishment has time and again failed in their duties. On 10th October, 2009 terrorists ransacked the GHQ for about 6 hours; now if the centre of the military can be targeted then how can we feel secure? On 2nd May, 2011 two American helicopters, carrying navy seals did a 2 hour long operation, just next door to the Pakistan military academy which killed OBL. Our defense system failed to spot and shoot those helicopters, and during the operation, our forces did not reach the place to counter the seals. Hence, they went unscathed. We can only say that our army, intelligence and the air force flunked. Morality demanded our military commanders to relinquish their office, but they are still at the helm. If Husain Haqqani can resign on grounds of alleged involvement then, certainly the military high-ups should do the same since this incident was an overt infringement of the territorial integrity of the country. Then we cannot forget 23rd May, 2011 when a handful of miscreants entered the mehran naval base and destroyed pc3 Orion aircraft; it took a whole day for the security forces to wind-up the operation at the cost of 13 personnel. This too, was a serious security lapse.
This is not all; on 26th November,2011 NATO helicopters annihilated the salala check post in Mohmand, killing 26 security personnel of the 7 ak regiment, but in that process no reinforcements came in to counter the attack. This situation is alarming and hence, there is a great deal of skepticism. The pretext that the military regarding the inability to gun down predators is absurd since they never took  permission from civilians in foisting martial laws, be it 7th October,1958,5th july,1977 or 12th October, 1999. So we deem this attitude as a stigma for the military. We feel that, in light of India’s current efforts to test their Cold Start doctrine which calls for rapid mobilization of battle integrated groups, the ISI should be keeping an eye on this development, instead of political gimmicks. Although, there is no proof of the latter, but we extrapolate things of the past; the ISI was deeply entrenched in politics, so it is rightly assumed that they are still very much into this game which is not their job, by any stretch of imagination. It is important to address the phenomenal growth of our nuclear arsenal; according to congressional research service, Pakistan is growing its cache at the fastest rate. The aforementioned economic data shows that we cannot afford this augmentation and even otherwise it has and can possibly not make us secure.  However, I still salute my army men who defend our frontiers even at the peril of their life. Before giving the concluding remarks, I must rave about the men who have been hit by the avalanche in Siachen.
In sum, one can say that the government  and the military have left us indignant; the former has thrown the country to dogs and the latter has made fatal slip-ups.

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