Elite capture is being defined as, where the most powerful groups acquire the decisive power of the political decision making, distribution of resources and defining the status of classes. Principles and agents of political economy work hand in hand and work out strategies to ensure the control over power of allocation and distribution of resources. The rules of game being devised in such a way that all paths lead to elite. It is common phenomena in developing and least developed countries, but now developed countries are also joining the bandwagon. Global players of elite group are refining the instruments to entangle the developed countries in web of elite capture. The yellow west movement of France and rise of right-wing movements is result of such intervention, along with other factors.
The elite capture is a bad thing, but still elite capture somehow believes in distributing resources at certain level. It is considered necessary to keep the minimum order of the society. It is also being used as a carrot to engage people from outside the elite group. The outsiders are beingused as poster boys to show the society at larger scale. Pakistan is also victim of this strategy for a long time. The process of elite capture started right after the death of Father of Nation. From my point of view the elite capture was completed in late 1990s. The people of Pakistan accepted the phenomena and started to live with it. There was no opposition, leave alone the movement.
Howbeit, since the dawn of 2000s Pakistan is going through another phenomena, the “Elite Abuses”. Elite abuses have all the elements of the elite capture with some additions. It has introduced the exclusion instead of the minimum distribution. For example, State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) contributed significantly to national development but the elite captured it and put it on destruction mode. Power players used these SOEs as instrument of power grabbing and benefit to cronies. Power grab was ensured by employing their voters and supporters, in exchange of vote at any cost. The cronies were obliged by offering big posts and hefty packages. The end result was that SOEs crossed the carrying capacity and turned into loss making entities.
The story does not end here. Now elite felt that nothing more can be extracted from SOEs, so what would be next to accrue benefits. The answer was privatization and it is beginning of elite abuse. It will create new opportunities for elite and their cronies even at the cost of their supporters and voters. It is start of the process to exclude the people from resource distribution. The elite or their cronies will be only beneficiary of privatization by acquiring these SOEs or through other means.
Pakistan is going through one of the worst economic crises. The crisis has multiple dimensional but the most prominent one and the worst form is debt crisis
The elite capture is also responsible for the downfall of economy. The successive governments remained busy to experiment the economic systems and instruments. Every experiment culminated with new winners and losers. The experiments also resulted in the weakening of economy, which was managed by borrowing extensively. It led to accumulation of debt over the time. Now, Pakistan is going through one of the worst economic crises. The crisis has multiple dimensional but the most prominent one and the worst form is debt crisis. Pakistan owes a hefty Paris Club (US$ 10.924 billion), IMF (US$ 7.68), bilateral donors (US$ 24.352 billion), Multilateral donors (US$ 39.392 billion), International Bonds (US$ 5.3 billion) etc.The debt has passed the repaying capacity of country and we are repaying the debt by borrowing more, which is further complicating the situation. It is perfect example of debt trap.
Unfortunately, the process is not stopping here, it is moving quickly toward the policy and governance trap. Rather, Pakistan is already there. International Financial Institutions are compelling Pakistan to adopt their policies and implement their proposed interventions. Pakistan does not have any option except to implement their policies and interventions.
It is also contributing toward the elite abuse. Elite group started to auction the state assets since many years like selling of SOEs and privatizing government services like health, education and communication etc. Now, we have come to the point where we are presenting our buildings, airports, roads and even parks to mortgage. We are also in process to auction our global assets, which have immense potential. The regrettable fact is that elite will be using this as opportunity to enhance their benefits and bless the cronies. State and people will be losers. The excluded people will be lift with no options to sustain their livelihoods. This is another example of elite capture which is culminating into elite abuse.
The elite is even now started to groom their children to capture the system. We can find numerous examples in the form of elite jobs and opportunities. Once, a famous Pakistani politician mentioned that there is a group of children of influential elite, which is trying to capture the whole system and business. The think tanks or NGOs or foundations are new phenomena on this front. The elite group is erecting their own institutions and snub the genuine institutes. They use their influence to secure financial support from the international agencies.
However, we have to keep in mind that the exclusion of common people has its own demerits and implications. It will erect hardlines between the elite abusers and people. There will be groups of haves and have nots. It will provide the basis of conflicts and violence. The group of have not, will have no fear to loss anything. It will also pave the way for the exploitation of excluded groups. The enemies or opponents will devise different instruments, like ethnicity, class, religion or nationalism etc. to exploit the people. The enemies of Pakistan will consider it a golden opportunity to sabotage the Pakistan. They will use these people to create their proxies. The glimpses are already here in society.
We can learn from the global examples like Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Yemen, Syria and many others. The elite abuse ultimately led to conflicts and destruction of country. USSR is another example, although it was strong country, but elite turned it into laughingstock. President Putin had to work for decades to bring out it from the clutches of lost glory. God, forbid that we reach at that point, but the picture is very scary.
Thus, there is need to reverse the process of elite capture to avoid the worst forms of elite abuse and counter the proxy influence of our enemies. First of all, we need to create an economic and governance system in the light of the vision of father of nation. As, he said at multiple occasions that we need to build a system must ensure welfare of people and ensure the dignity of human. He considered the Islamic system as best choice, as he said “We must work our destiny in our own way and present to the world an economic system based on true Islamic concept of equality of manhood and social justice. We will thereby be fulfilling our mission as Muslims and giving to humanity the message of peace which alone can save and secure the welfare, happiness and prosperity of mankind.
Second, the elite needs to come out of mind set of control or more precisely to oppress. They need to learn that we cannot hide the truth. We are living in age of technology and there are number of means to find and share the truth. There is also lesson for media that they need to work for people, otherwise media will loss the credibility.
Lastly, we all, especially the elite has to learn and comprehend that respect of any individual is tied with its country, if your country is strong then you are respected all over the world and vice versa. Hence, we all need to work for the betterment of country by devising instruments of distribution of resources and equal opportunities. Otherwise, we will be loser as a nation.
This article was originally published at: https://dailytimes.com.pk/718871/elite-capture-to-elite-abuse/
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.