Prof Dr Shahida Wizarat
It is quite ironic that Pakistan an agricultural country producing more than one fifth of its output from agriculture and a little less than half of its population working in agriculture should be food insecure. And possessing vast rivers and their tributaries should be potable and irrigation water scarce. Further, and inspite of these vast hydro resources, along with coal, oil and gas reserves is energy scarce. And with large mineral reserves it suffers from the resource curse. GDP and sectoral growth rates have witnessed declines, skewness in the distribution of income has increased and poverty levels have increased substantially. Public sector institutions are being used for personal gains and rent seeking and are unable to deliver the essential services such as primary and higher education, research, legislation, water, power, transport, etc and other civic amenities to the public. Natural resources are being looted and awarded to foreign countries without any share for the country and its people. Our highways and roads are being used for transportation of armaments, goods and services for peanuts by super powers. The natural outcome has been a sense of exclusion, break down of law and order, increase in conflict and turmoil, poor governance, lack of essential services and utilities. The rule of law is almost non-existent, merit is marginalised and might is right.
Moreover, a war has been imposed on this country which has taken a heavy toll in terms of human life, suffering and finances. As if this was not enough, big seed companies in connivance with US AID are promoting GM seeds of agricultural crops resulting in infecting our food, destroying our eco system and resulting in major declines in output of major cash crops like cotton, with disastrous consequences for the economy. The government along with other political parties is encouraging US AID to pollute our food production by promoting Bt rice, corn, wheat, fruits and vegetables in the country. And when farmers didn’t purchase the GM seeds the US AID has itself started Bt rice and wheat production in the Shikarpur district of Sindh. It has also distributed GM apple saplings in Baluchistan without informing the farmers that these are GMOs. There is evidence of tremendous increase in serious illnesses like cancer, epilepsy, seizures and strokes in Pakistan over the last few years.
How can we explain our present predicament? The reason for this sordid state of affairs is the politico social fabric of the country. Pakistanis with strong links to the establishments in the USA and UK have established a network and imposed a “supra national” government on top of the government of Pakistan. The constitution of the country, the Statutes, Service Rules and Bye laws governing organisations and institutions are subservient to it. Government of Pakistan is subservient to the “supra national” government and willingly includes its selectees in the cabinet, as heads of government institutions, government bodies, SOEs, etc. This is how heads of organisations are appointed, irrespective of their caliber. A cursory look at some institutions in Pakistan reveals that leadership role has been passed on from father to daughter in some institutions, while in many others from a mentor to a protégé. Even higher education has not been spared and heads of departments, centres, vice chancellors are appointed by the selectees to ensure that independent minded academics are marginalised and the network nominees are elevated to leadership positions. The Statutes and Service Rules governing institutions have become redundant. Whenever a top slot becomes vacant, the entire network uses its full force to install its ‘selectee’ to the top position, irrespective of the Service Rules and Statutes governing institutions.
While history is witness to some of the worst forms of apartheid against the Red Indians in the U.S.A., the Aborigines in Australia and the Blacks in South Africa, the apartheid practiced in Pakistan is more subtle in nature. Even people who are its victims are reticent to discuss it. This decadent politico-social system appoints those on leadership positions that are part of the ruling clique. The vast majority of Pakistanis have become aliens in their own country. Only a small minority of the citizens of this country are first rate citizens, while the great majority are second or third rate citizens. They can never dream of reaching to the top, although the constitution guarantees equal opportunities to all the citizens of the country. It is a blatant violation of merit and the rule of law, not in an ad hoc, but a systemic manner. In the past this politico-social system became the biggest obstacle to the progress and prosperity of Pakistan, but now it has become a threat to the very existence of the country.
Moreover, State Owned Organisations (SOEs) have been ruined as they are used for providing perks and privileges instead of providing goods and services to the country/society. There are four reasons due to which institutions have become dysfunctional in Pakistan: first, since heads of organisations are not appointed on merit, they are not competent for the positions they are enjoying. Second, they promote the political agendas and dictations of the country/super power that helped them to get installed. And third, the position appears to be a reward or prize for services already rendered in the past. Such positions, are therefore, more likely to be used for rent seeking and personal gains, rather than promoting national objectives1. Fourth, this milking of public sector institutions has made them bankrupt, making a case for their privatisation at throw away prices as recently witnessed in the privatisation of PIA.
Those appointed on leadership positions have used their power to build their constituencies and support groups. There are allegations of State Bank of Pakistan Governors having indulged in corruption in the privatisation of commercial banks. The name of a former SBP Governor in the privatisation of Muslim Commercial Bank was pointed out by Justice Jawad Khawja2 but the matter seems to have been hushed up and no investigation seems to be under way. Family members of SBP Governors formed companies that benefitted from the SBP, lucrative appointments in violation of SBP rules were made and SBP colonies were allegedly sold at below market prices to important state institutions to protect themselves from future accountability.
In public sector universities authorities do not appear to be answerable to any one which has resulted in large scale embezzlements, financial corruption3, nepotism and illegal appointments4, decline in academic standards5 and break down of law and order6 on campuses. Some Vice Chancellors have received lucrative gifts of expensive houses in posh localities. As a result of moral corruption by officials in the education sector, these seats of learning have fallen into disrepute. NAB recently discovered corruption to the tune of Rs 30 crore by those serving in the Examination department of a public sector university. The person conducting this corruption who belonged to a political party has been nabbed, but he was not an employee of the University. The University official providing patronage and support can not be nabbed as he was sailing in two boats. He was affiliated with a political party, but also belonged to the lobby that has been governing Pakistan. Not only he, but all the high officials enjoy patronage of sitting state officials who are also sailing in two boats. We are witness to the immunity that Raymond Davis enjoyed, and in spite of his blatant murders of two Pakistanis and links to 119 militants was set off free with the support and connivance of state institutions in Pakistan including the former army Chief. The same immunity is enjoyed by Pakistanis who have links with US and pursue its interests.
Technocrats with links to foreign countries have disclosed state secrets to the USA7, but no enquiries have been conducted against them for their actions. On the contrary, and in spite of their anti state activities, their names were forwarded for important ministerial positions by the previous Army Chief.8 Pakistanis who availed government scholarships and signed bonds to serve the country and reneged on their commitments and black listed, meant they would never be allowed to work in Pakistan. Three of these made it to the top, one becoming a federal commerce minister, one Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and the third one Governor SBP9. More than 50,000 visas were issued under various categories between 2008 and 2011 to American citizens in Washington by a former ambassador of Pakistan to the USA, as revealed by the foreign ministry10 resulting in the present predicament in which we find ourselves today, while he is comfortably enjoying life in the US. None of these people have ever been held accountable.
Accountability of civilian bureaucrats, SBP officials, public sector university officials has tried to protect those who belong to the US lobby in Pakistan. Even where inquires have been started, the moment it involves the ruling clique/American lobby in Pakistan the case doesn’t progress any further. But one has to admit that the accountability being conducted by the army has not hesitated to hold those that have indulged in corruption, irrespective of their affiliations, as revealed by the enquiry being conducted against a former Army Chief and his brothers.
The network is composed of people who are working for foreign governments in return for money. These people do not owe allegiance to Pakistan, are corrupt as they have sold themselves and prevented competent, honest and patriotic Pakistanis from coming to power. If people are appointed on leadership positions on individual basis and indulge in corruption the checks and balances would nab such people and bring them to task. But not if these are network selectees, as the entire network springs into action the moment their members are caught doing financial and/or moral corruption. This is because the spoils of financial corruption are not enjoyed alone by the corrupt, but by the entire network of the corrupt. Every one in the network gets his/her due share and is thus interested in protecting the accused rather than nabbing him/her. Moreover, politicians are very eager to share power with those who belong to this network as a way to protect themselves from accountability. They know that those who belong to this network do not face accountability, and one way to protect themselves from accountability is to share the booty with those who belong to this network.
Accountability of politicians recently started should be carried out and the people of Pakistan will only be too happy to see all the corrupt politicians caught and punished for their loot and plunder. But protecting the ruling clique, a scared cow or individual will render the whole exercise controversial. And instead of reducing corruption, it will lead to increase in corruption, when the corrupt realise that the only way to protect themselves is to join a lobby that enjoys complete immunity. This will swell the number of mercenaries in this country, who will all too eagerly pursue US interests, as this would be an ideal way to protect themselves and continue with corruption with greater confidence and rigour.
While everyone tries to put their best foot forward, we put our worst foot forward. Our politico-social system brings paid agents and criminals to the top. Corruption is, therefore, embedded in Pakistan’s politico-social fabric. You cannot expect a corrupt system to wage a war against corruption as corruption is deeply embedded into the system. Trying to purge the country of corruption, while leaving the politico-social fabric intact is itself a contradiction. The only way to remove corruption from the body politic is to change the politico social system.
Judgments by superior courts have sensitised us about Pakistanis holding dual nationality. What about Pakistanis who have Pakistani nationality but are working for some foreign agency? Can they hold high offices? In line with the ruling of the honourable court, just as Pakistanis with dual nationality can not hold a position in Pakistan, all the Pakistanis on the payroll of foreign agencies should be barred from holding an office. The entire caretaker setup, permanent setups and high officials should be vetted for their links to foreign countries if the country has to be saved and made prosperous.
In Pakistan there is both government failure as well as market failure, as the same network is extending itself to occupy leadership positions in the private sector as well. A lot of private sector organisations are therefore falling prey to this menace. Performance of some very credible and well known brands has nose dived as a result of appointment of incompetent senior managers. Privatisation, is therefore, not the answer to the ills afflicting our SOEs. The only way to make not only the SOEs, but all the state institutions functional, efficient and profitable is to bring patriotic, honest and competent Pakistanis to the top and stop punishing them for their honesty, competence and patriotism !
1 Wizarat (2011)
2. NAB Ignoring Mega Scandals, The News, 03 July 2015.
3. Daily Jung, 7 April 2009, Dawn, Metropolitan, 9 March 2009.
4. Daily Jung 27 July 2007, Dawn 20 July 2008, The Nation 26 August 2008, Asia Pulse Data Source 29 April 2007.
5. Daily Jung, Dawn, etc, various issues.
6. Dawn Metropolitan 26 August , Asian Human Rights Commission Statement 17 October 2006.
7. Rauf Klasra, South Asia Tribune, 29 July 2004.
8. Wiki leaks on the appointment of Pakistan’s Finance Minister in 2009.
9. We have information only about three of the many who reneged on their commitments, it is very probable that the rest also made it to the top.
10. Pakistan Cyber Force, Internet.
Dawn, Herald Publications, various issues
Jung, Karachi, various issues.
Klasra, Rauf, South Asia Tribune, 29 July 2004.
News, Jung Group of Publications,
Pakistan Cyber Force, Internet.
Wizarat, Shahida (2011), Fighting Imperialism, Liberating Pakistan, Centre for Research and Statistics (CRS), Karachi.