By Lt. Gen (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi
Former Defence Secretary of Pakistan
Mere existence of potentials is no guarantee for the move forward and progress of any country. The potentials have to be recognized, evaluated, manifested and synchronized to ensure their conversion into positively measurable outcomes. These strengths when not synchronized get realized in divergent directions and invite threats from outside with a high probability of wide spread destruction. Exhaustion and disruption can also be created by external exploiters as they either plunder or suppress realization of power potentials taking advantage of local inactivity or apathy.
Some potentials are double edged, like population that can either be literate, healthy, young etc or otherwise. Pakistan possesses a more than medium levels of geographical, historical, sociological and psychological potentials. Unfortunately, the negative fault lines of ethnicity, sectarianism, illiteracy etc have manifested and grown much bigger than the positive potentials due to lack of systems, absence of solid institutions and presence of exploitative elements both internal and external. There are a good number of Pakistanis and others who claim to know the problems, but few give us the remedies. Just proclaiming that we have leadership crises, inefficient and corrupt systems and illiterate masses; will never solve our problems. The Think Tanks and writers have a huge responsibility in progress of any society by stimulating minds and showing avenues for a progressive forward looking nation.
What we lack probably is the absence of organized implementers who could give practical shape to abounding theories. The implementers, need to be collected; or they themselves should get collected; and we shall ride the ascending curve of development and excellence. This can only happen, with one additional proviso ; The major institutions should not only be at talking terms with each other but work along with each other, if not in perfect harmony, at least in near synchronous manner. These two factors just mentioned above may have been the great missing links in our plans of way forward.
In today’s complicated and knowledgeable world, specialists should do all the special works. Foreign policy, economic policy, defense policy etc. are neither simple common sense, nor can be single-handedly conceived by general purpose bureaucrats or ministers. In advanced countries, normally, well established Think Tanks or experts give their inputs to the governments. Such inputs could be made available in our country also, but for that experts need to be recognized and their opinions respected. There is no dearth of masters and doctorates in all important fields of security and development. Hard core theories can be conveniently tampered with the inputs of retired and serving specialists of those areas, who have practiced in the relevant fields. For example few selected ex-foreign sectaries and ex-foreign ministers can form a Foreign Policy Group to scrutinize the inputs given by a certain Foreign Policy Institute, and forward it to government. Thus specialists and brainy people of some eminence will be able to contribute in the progress of the country without undermining the final say of the politicians, who should for their own good, must limit their approvals from amongst the options provided by the experts.
The implementation is, to give practical shape to policies, turn them into practical plans, and issue implementable instructions for lower functionaries which is the prime responsibility and the real task of bureaucrats. A system is considered incomplete without monitoring systems, with the ability of midcourse corrections. Political governments, that bear the apex responsibility, being the representative of the people, make the laws and rules to ensure that the entire system works. Thus the parliament remains the supreme authority due to their sole authority to legislate. But now the entire implementation framework depends on the all important trio of judiciary, administration and police! And how will they deliver? Only if they are the most efficient and the most just. And how will they be efficient? Only if they get inducted through the most transparent induction system, with excellent training, grooming and respect. And how will that happen? Only if these institutions are free from political interference.
But Parliament is the mother of all institutions, why should they not interfere? The big say of the political government, is, and should remain, in appointment of the top bureaucrat, top police official and the chief justice only. There onwards, it should be the solemn duty of these top ladies and gentlemen to ensure their institutions are efficient and free of corruption, failing which they be dismissed, again by the mighty parliament or their representative government.
A system similar to the armed forces, where appointment of chief is the prerogative, of the prime minister; and that is all; with no interference who gets promoted and where he/she gets posted. This would be the real test of sincerity of politicians to serve this country. The culture of, my patwari, my SHO and my DCO, has to go.
These are some of the essential reforms without which we shall not be able to take the first step out of darkness and hopelessness. These solutions may sound simple but we have to stand tall as they require personal, party and institutional sacrifices to synergize for national cause. These solutions demand synergy of media, judiciary, upright individuals and institutional efforts to take a step towards prosperous Pakistan.
Army is often blamed, and rightly so, for transgressing its lawful bounds. But we must reflect and observe deeply if only one particular institution is violating the rules or we see it all around, most of them doing it? Most of us are, quite aware, what the parliamentarians, the ministers, the media men, the police, the judiciary and the armed forces are not supposed to do. The check and balance is only possible if all major institutions remain interactive and remain amenable to suggestions, rather than a snobbish or isolative attitude. All institutions were established to serve the country remaining in their own spheres as provided by the constitution, which is a sacred covenant to be respected by all.
For the major institutions to be smooth, interactive and articulate with each other, we need to get rid of the historical burdens. Who did what to whom, should definitely allow us to take all possible precautions for future, yet should not stop all legitimate relationships and interflow of inputs. If the power of gun is not to be misused, so should be the restraint in using the administrative, media and legal powers. Presently, as these lines are written, this may be a major reason for lack of synergies in the national affairs. How will this improve? Again the prime responsibility lies squarely on the senior most institution the parliament and its representatives in the government, to give environment of confidence and mutual respect, whereby all institutions feel secure and respected, while freely operating in their domains, with the ability and possibility to proffer candid and professional inputs.
Race for point scoring, overt and covert ridicule must end. The prime minister with confidence, remaining within the rules of business, should appoint such personalities as head of the institutions, who are competent, confident, articulate and candid in giving their views. Secluded, proud, too quiet and snobbish personalities, even if very professional, should be avoided.
No single institution, whether political, judicial, media or armed forces can lift the country out of the present vortex; it has to be a collective national effort. A new forum to provide a national platform under the chairmanship of prime minister with top representatives of all major institutions, to make a resolve, and then practically do all or some of the steps discussed.
The writer is a retired army officer and ex-defence secretary. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org