Governance is one of the most favorite subjects to talk about in Pakistan. You ask about any problem of Pakistan, the answer would be governance. It does not make any difference from whom you are asking. It may be politician, military person, bureaucrat or common citizen like cobbler, driver, daily wagers etc. Another common point would be blame game among all the ruling circles. Politicians will blame military, bureaucrat, media and vice versa. Everyone will try to justify itself by pointing finger on others. They will adopt a rhetoric, apply it without consideration of time and space. They try to solve problems of governance through rhetoric.
Rhetoric is so prominent phenomena of governance in Pakistan that every party is in race to apply it. It is so common that every ruler devise one for itself and keep it repeating. For example, General Ayub’s slogan was industrial development and green revolution. He kept on using it. Mr. Bhutto introduced the slogan of “Rooti, Kappra and Makkan” and his party is still using it. General Zia ul Haq came with slogan of Islamiztaion of country. Despite his decade long rule, Islam could not get space as system of governance. From 1990s onward Pakistan is hostage to rhetoric of corruption. The successive governments were dismissed on the charges of corruption, but corruption kept growing. General Musharraf started his tenure with the slogan to eradicated corruption and ended with minimum success. The rhetoric become strong during the tenure of last two governments. Now it is everyday topic to discuss at all forums including media.
However, the disappointing fact is that everyone wants to solve the problem by rhetoric. We can hear lengthy speeches every day, how to fix governance. We can also watch tug of war of words to prove that they are master of governance. And all other actors do not know anything about governance. They will cite international reports and ranking to prove themselves right. At the same time, they reject such reports and rankings, if it goes against them.
There is need to introduce the system of specialization, which must be built on the concept of skills. Pakistan also needs to be come out mentality of foreign qualified utopia
People of Pakistan were fed up from this drama and in 2018 they elected a new party to govern the country. It was hoped that the new party will introduce the true governance and people will get relief. Unfortunately, the new government is still unable to fulfill the commitments and it is not performing according to the expectation of people. Rather, it also adopted the strategy of previous governments and started to deliver on rhetoric. And it is ignoring real issue of governance, like other. The real issues of governance are structural, which originates from mismatch between development status and system of governance along with other factors.
Before, discussing these issues, we have to admit that governance model of Pakistan is entirely different from the rest of world. The main pillar of governance in Pakistan is “relationship”. The system runs on the basis of relationship not on the basis of principles of governance. Even to get a utility connection you need ten types of friends or you will have to pay bribe or wait for long time. The most prominent example of relation-based governance is pots retirement lucrative jobs. We can find that many important positions are occupied by retired personals. Most of them do not have required skills or qualifications but they have good connections to grab the positions. The sphere of this process is expanding and now it has started to target lower level jobs also. This trend has further weakened the system. Further, it will also pose serious threat to law and order situation in Pakistan because the employment opportunities will shrink for youth and talented people. The youth will not have any option except to go for illegal means or challenge the state for their rights. Unfortunately, the process has already been started and different interest groups are using youth for their nefarious agenda.
On structural side, the system is very complicated which is beyond the comprehension of majority of population. Further the actors of governance make it complex. It is almost impossible for people to understand it. The attitude of actors also discourages the people to follow the principles of governance. Second important area is merit system. The present system does not fulfill the requirements of merit. The fundamentals of merits are outdated and does not qualify the modern standards. The modern governance has new dynamics and requirement, which our system does not offer.
The third area of anxiety is mismatch between development status and governance system. It is well known fact that governance system in West, which is democratic in essence, evolved with development of economy and economic factors. Pre-industrialization period was dominated by kingships and centralized system. However, the industrialization started to change governance system. It kept on evolving and modern governance system get strong roots after world war-II. Today, the governance has entered the phase of specialization.
Unfortunately, Pakistan is still stuck in early 20th century’s models or phase. Pakistan’s economy is really in bad shape. We do not know what to do with economy and are struggling to find a way. We also have huge number of poor with higher illiteracy. Agriculture is pre-dominant sector of economy in terms of employment. In these circumstance Pakistan is trying to implement the governance system, which is built on the democracy. It is like, you ask a truck driver, to compete in formula-1 race. It is very cruel example, but it is unfortunate reality in the context of Pakistan.
The current situation is quite depressing, but we should strive for reforms. The reform is only solution for Pakistan. However, we have to make sure that the reform process should target the structural issues and avoid indulging in rhetoric. The entry point for reforms would be to rationalize our governance system in accordance with the development status. The system should have two-way process for devising policy. The process of policy making should start from grass root and decision should be made at national level. The process of implementation should be led by local systems, local bureaucracy and local governments. Both should act as partners and monitor each other. For that purpose, we can draw some experience from Chinese model.
Second point would be to revise the present system of merit. This system is not serving the purpose. It was designed to serve the objectives of colonial masters and it had less to offer to common citizens. There is need to introduce the system of specialization, which must be built on the concept of skills. Pakistan also needs to be come out mentality of foreign qualified utopia. Third area would be character building, which is a long project, but it will be the most critical intervention.
Lastly, the ruling elite has to realize maybe we are passing the phase of evolution and moving toward revolution, which is a bad indication or proposition. Because, revolution always introduce mass killing and brutal treatment of elite. We can find numerous examples from the history that revolution played havoc with human societies like France, Russia etc. Hence, Pakistan should try to avoid this and start a process of reform. The reform process will not be easy, but Pakistan will have too, as the other option is very scary.
This article was originally published at: https://dailytimes.com.pk/618493/structural-or-rhetoric-governance/
Approved By SDPI