The other disaster management

If I fear going into a police station, dread the going to a hospital, I really don’t care about that glitzy bridge

Fahd Husain January 28, 2015
The writer is Executive Director News, Express News. He tweets @fahdhusain [email protected]

Come to think of it, what a feat Balochistan has achieved by successfully holding local body elections. It is quite amazing actually.

Well done Balochistan. And shame on you Punjab, Sindh and Khyber –Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). Shame on your leadership for abdicating its constitutional obligation and democratic duty. Shame on you for depriving your people their basic right to elect their representatives; and shame on you for deliberately obfuscating an issue that is clear as day. Yes shame on you for not holding local bodies elections for fear of losing power to the grassroots leadership; and shame on you for insulting the intelligence of every Pakistani by coming up with half-baked excuses to keep delaying the local body polls. You — yes you leadership of these provinces — you stand guilty of damaging democracy for your own petty and selfish interests.

Here’s the real tragedy though: this shame-inducing action (or lack of it) is reflective of a larger disease that afflicts our leadership across the board: lack of vision. Holding local body elections is not just an event, or merely an obligation, or even a favour to the electorate — no sirs, it is part of an ongoing process of refining a representative system so it better serves the voter. The real emphasis is not on the local body polls, but on the struggle required to constantly and consistently reform the structures and institutions that constitute the system that runs a democratic country. Now if it were a copy/paste process, life for our dear leaders would have been real easy. But it ain’t. One size does not fit all.

So what happens here? Politicians opt for the obvious no-brainers. Throw money after concrete projects that are visible to the public. Hey, see that bridge! I built it for you, with your money. And see that broad avenue, and that glittering bus? Yep, that’s me too. For you. With your money. So now you know, I’m competent and a doer, and that opponent of mine, he’s just talk.

Sure politics is not that simple, and governance is a fine balancing act between demands, desires, resources and priorities. But this is exactly where that vision thing comes in.

Law and order is a provincial subject and therefore the direct — and primary — responsibility of the provincial leadership. Has any province undertaken comprehensive police reforms? K-P most probably has taken some steps to depoliticise its police, but this is just the start. In Punjab, the mighty police relish beating blind men and little kids, and of course, shooting people dead in Model Town. There is no sign whatsoever that the leadership of Punjab is interested in reforming the police. None. Yes, some very superficial steps have been taken but that’s pretty much it. In fact, what is occupying the minds of the Punjab police bosses is a new design for police uniforms. Priorities anyone?

The absolute disaster that we call our police is just one example of the disaster that goes by the name of governance by the provincial leadership. Again, the situation may be slightly better in K-P because Imran Khan is at least talking about the need for reforming the police, health, education, etc. but the other three provinces seem to be lurching from one ad hoc, half-baked cockamamie policy to another. You know why? When you do not have a clear vision based on a solid understanding of the objectives, you surrender yourself to your fancy, and that of others who surround you.

So hey, you provincial leaders: how many of you really, really want every single boy and girl in your province to be in school? Go ahead, raise your hand and tell us, which one of you believes this is your primary and most fundamental responsibility? Which one of you truly believes this is what you will be judged for by history, and that this is the one challenge you are willing to devote your time, energy and resources to? You Janab Shahbaz Sharif? You Janab Qaim Ali Shah? You Mr Pervez Khattak? Really? And you Dr Malik? Can you put your hand on your heart and say this with every part of your politicised being?

If the answer is a ‘no’, you need to walk away from this job you hold. If the answer is a ‘yes’, then you are seriously incompetent because your performance belies your claim. Just look at the number of children out of school in your province, and then look at yourself in the mirror. Feeling a sense of shame?

If I live in your province, and my kids either cannot go to school, or are forced to study in a third-rate government institution, or I have to send them to a madrassa, I really do not care for your fancy roads and manicured crossings. If I fear going into a police station, and dread the day I have to go to a hospital, I really don’t give a damn about that glitzy bridge, or that signal-free corridor.

Priority is the key word here. That’s what leaders do: set priorities. These priorities, in turn, are a direct product of the leaders’ vision and conviction. If I am convinced that a prosperous and progressive future for Pakistan is dependent on every child being in school, then I will ensure this happens on my watch, whatever it takes. If it is my conviction that I must provide the citizens the most efficient and service-oriented police force; if I am clear in my mind that I must ensure that citizens have access to the best health facilities and a complete merit-oriented, level playing field; if I am rock-sure that I must reform the bureaucracy so citizens can enjoy a higher quality of transparent governance; if I deeply believe in devolving power to the grassroots level through the local bodies system — then I will do whatever it takes, howsoever it takes, and however long it takes to make sure that I get all of this done. Then I will not lurch from policy to random policy; from one gimmick to another, but will work methodically and logically to make the vision come true.

So hey, provincial leaders, if I ask whether you have such a vision, which one of you — seriously, honestly — can raise his hand?


Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th,  2015.

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PAKISTANIBOY | 6 years ago | Reply

@Mr Fahd truly you are a PTI fan you seem to always say PTI seems to be better & working in KPK compared to other provinces and their leadeship. When you fail to see that education & police are far better in punjab then in KPK. same goes for crime rate in Punjab is seemingly less. but hey being a PTI supporter it is alright to be bias and see good even when there isn't any in KPK.

Grace | 6 years ago | Reply

@Janan: Tell me when any government was ever allowed to finish a term before the 3 rd World Quick fix mentality kicked in and either the army or some other quick fix magician came in. This government earned the right to complete five years and after five years, we can all vote them out if their projects and plans do not make a better Pakistan. This is the nature of the democratic model. When our people learn to trust the wishes of the majority, the country will move forward and it will improve on all levels. This will take two to three cycles of elections as long as we don't give in to Arab Spring type behaviour. PS I would rather live in Punjab with Shahbaz Sharif at the helm than any other province due to governing style and progress.

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