The Communist Party of China (CPC) is China’s real establishment. It works with the military discipline but thinks the civilian way. It is the engine that has kept the ship i.e China afloat, steered by self-less leaders of immaculate integrity – from Chairman Mao to Deng Xiaoping to President Xi Jinping.
An abiding commitment to the ideals of socialism and an acute focus on people’s welfare – who can literally protect or rock the boat – is the spirit that has held the ship together. China’s journey in the last 41 years has been breath-taking.
In 1952, China’s GDP was 30 billion U.S. dollars, while in 2018, its GDP reached 13.61 trillion U.S. dollars, an increase of 452.6 times,China’s National Bureau of Statistics said in a 2018 report.
In 1978, China’s GDP ranked 11th in the world, while in 2010, it overtook Japan to become the second largest economy in the world, and has remained the second largest economy since then. From 1961 to 1978, China’s average annual contribution to global economic growth was 1.1 percent, but from 1979 to 2012, the average annual contribution rate was 15.9 percent, ranking second in the world.
From 2013 to 2018, the average annual figure climbed to 28.1 percent, ranking first place globally, This underlines the unflinching focus on economics as a means to national salvation.
Guided by intellectual, self-less giants like Mao, Deng and Xi, the CPC has served as a unifying force, as the lynchpin of modern China’s development as a global economic power.
The establishment in Pakistan, on the contrary, offers a contract to CPC; surrounded by India and Afghanistan, it has remained mired in a sense of insecurity – driven by an existential threat – and thus given to a national security paradigm because of a state of perennial conflict with India over Kashmir.
Its problems also originated because of its preoccupation with domestic politics.
Over the years, this turned out to be a deadly combination; the army – as the guardian of the frontiers – always believed itself to be the best and the most committed defender of Pakistan’s interests. However, this self-conceived bloated sense hardly drew on the wisdom from the grass-roots. This sense took birth in the garrison and relied on the vested interest for endorsement – the aristocrats, landlords, and pliant businessmen – as junior partners after the coups it staged to protect the country. In fact they acted as the social crutches for the establishment.
This stood out in sharp contrast to the CPC, which draws its strength from the grass-roots, and is raised on structures that throw up future leaders. President Xi Jinping for instance, served 7 years in a remote village of Shanxi province as a volunteer to help the locals in water, sanitation and energy projects. He arrived there at 15 and left after having created friendships in the village. Almost all CPC leaders have gone that route and thus acceptable to the core.
Pakistan army, on the other hand, follows its own discipline which originates and thrives in the garrison and has thus little to do with the pulse of the people. Chairman Mao, son of a local farmer, himself spent his early youth serving the village he grew up in.
The paradox is quite visible; the establishment desires to clean the stables but uses the existing civilian legal framework for that. But, the vested interest – the networks comprising politicians, businesses and lawyers – weigh down the process
The establishment in Pakistan is the army – the General Headquarters (GHQ) that embodies the most organised force in the country. But its mindset is anchored in the garrison. It believes to always act in the supreme national interest – be it support for a political party or personality or systemic opposition to it. Critics call it social engineering, something that sticks deep to the current ruling party. Often, direct or indirect interventions – however well-intended – have entailed a legacy of unintended consequences, compromising principles of merit, transparency, accountability and political correctness.
China achieved this because of a relentless belief in One System, One Party, One Language and One Nation. All leaders pursued this without fail.
Pakistan, on the contrary is a mixed bag , a functional democracy with a dysfunctional governance regime that is made worse by vision less, selfish leaders, and a pliant bureaucracy still glued to the British raj era of governance.
Here, the establishment always tried to create a balance between its predominance and the need for a facade to mask this predominance. MQM, Muslim Leagues, PML-N, PML-Q , BAP (Balochistan) are some of the manifestations of this balancing act, not to state the tools it supported for securing its eastern and western borders.
The consequences have been almost opposite; China, guided by the CPC, looms large over the horizon as the second mightiest economy. Pakistan, guided by the GHQ’s security paradigm, is struggling to transition from a security to normal sate against heavy odds at international and regional fronts. These odds largely resulted from security-centric policies. The CPC led China into the economic miracle with a strict governance regime enforced by people-centric committed cadres. The party had no body else to suspect or blame but its own cadres, and hence has been brute in judging performance of those at key positions.
No wonder, this prompted the New York Times columnist, Tom Friedman, into admitting that “one-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks …but when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.”
The party has pursued a relentless and continuous process of accountability within its ranks. In Pakistan, the army watched in impatiently as self-centred politicians took turns, abused authority and amassed wealth, and hardly focused on reforming the dated governance regime. The cost of doing governance therefore ran high and always prompted the army to interfere “to save the country.” But, when in control, the Generals – Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Ziaul Haq and Musharraf – mostly never found the real cure for the country’s multiple economic ailments. The establishment always justified its direct or indirect intervention on the pretext of corruption and vowed accountability. But this process , as has happened with the current anti-graft campaign, never gained the currency that it should because of the questionable strategies and the flawed legal systems that constitute the accountability process.
The paradox is quite visible; the establishment desires to clean the stables but uses the existing civilian legal framework for that. But, the vested interest – the networks comprising politicians, businesses and lawyers – weigh down the process. Also, those responsible for carrying through the accountability process, lack apparently lack both capacity and the iron will to do so.