The Elite have a plan to destroy Pakistan. They’ve had it for decades. And it’s been working. We must have a counterplan — a plan to save our homeland — for our children and our future generations.
“All hope abandon, ye who enter here,” reads an inscription on the Gate of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy. For us, this may be the darkest hour in our nation’s history. Many of us have abandoned hope, but… what if the appointment of Gen Asim Munir as Pakistan’s new Army Chief is the silver lining that we had been searching for? What if this is the beginning of the end of dynastic and fascist politics and hybrid governments? What if this is the time to look beyond Zardari, Sharif and Khan? But how?
A) Unmask the Elites. But who are the Elites? According to Role of Elites in Pakistan, published in International Journal of Applied Economic Studies, the Elites in Pakistan include bureaucratic elites, military elites, religious elites, landlord elites, judicial elites, industrialist elites, dynastic elites, taxing elites (non-tax paying), and media elites.
B) Eliminate Elite Capture. Pakistan Institute of Development Economics describes Elite Capture as a process by which powerful elites skim national resources intended for the larger population, and define policies in a way that protect their own interest. In 2017-18 alone, eight major groups caused a loss of Rs2.7 trillion to the nation’s economy. Among them: banks (Rs196 billion), industry (Rs528 billion), military establishment (Rs257 billion), high net worth individuals (Rs368 billion) and feudal class (Rs370 billion). Perks and privileges the Elites enjoy include preferential access to land, capital, and services, lower taxation including exemptions and evasions, and favourable prices.
C) Pass Elections Reform. Let’s have a default election date. Let’s introduce a Fixed Term Parliament Act like the UK did in 2011. General Elections on a fixed date every five years. This will prevent the manipulation of election dates for political advantage. To restore political stability, neither President nor Prime Minister should have the power to dissolve Parliament. However, Parliament may be dissolved by a two-thirds vote or if a motion of no-confidence is passed. This may be extrapolated to include provincial assemblies as well.
D) Armed Forces and the Hybrid Government. To strengthen democracy, the Armed Forces must stay out of power politics. For this commitment to have an enduring impact, there should be no extensions for the Army Chief. Military officers should be forbidden by law from assuming civilian posts in the government (Gen Kiyani 2008).
E) Reintroduce Term Limits. No more than two terms for President and Prime Minister and members of the National Assembly and the Senate. This will prevent elected representatives from amassing too much power and clout. Pakistan has a bourgeoning population of talented youth who can bring new ideas and innovative solutions to our problems.
On my last visit to Islamabad, I saw Land Cruisers and Range Rovers on the road. A house in F-6 cost 25 to 75 crore rupees. All this in a country that ranks 147th out of 170 on Human Development Index. We can see the writing on the wall, can’t we? We must extricate ourselves from the chokehold of the deep state. We must raise our voice.
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” George Orwell.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2022.
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