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Pakistan today reels under multiple crises

By Imtiaz Gul

Daily Dawn, August 14, 2011

Pakistan today reels under multiple crises. These range from the economic crisis to insecurity to the crippling of governance. All these crises flow from the armed forces’ predominance of the national security paradigm, a near monopoly of the essential components of this paradigm i.e. defence and foreign policy, coupled with three major and protracted interventions, which distorted the political landscape through unnatural alliances, threw up new opportunistic vested interest persons and groups, and impeded, if not stinted the growth of governance.

What Pakistan faces today is a cumulative consequence of a culture of collusion and expedience perpetuated by the ruling elite (self-serving generals, politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, media czars) to the disadvantage of the teeming and hapless millions, who vote their representatives into power but benefit little from the power of their vote. This results in a general crisis of governance because the vested-interest groups mostly tend to serve themselves and protect each other, rather than providing succour to the common man.

And what compounds this all? A massive crisis of integrity and conscience precipitates the various crises plaguing the state today; the way Pakistan Railways, Board of Investment, Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Steel Mills, the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Housing , and the Ministry of Petroleum are used as milking cows to benefit cronies, regardless of the massive financial implications to the nation, offers a few examples of the impunity with which the ruling elite abuses authority.

And what makes matters worse? Little certainty of punishment to members of the ruling elite. They can get away even with a broad-day murder, or fraud (Raymond Davis, the Haj Scam, the NICL Scandal, the Rental Power Plant Controversy). Members of the ruling elite protect one another at the cost of morality; there is little probability of legal consequences for any crime they commit. This undermines the rule of law.

The writer heads the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad

Email: imtiaz@crss.pk