The future of a failing Pakistan
Chronic violence, corruption has fostered widespread despair
We have a new prime minister, an energy crisis that shows signs of improvement and falling petrol prices. The Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government is now making pro-public decisions as it stumbles towards completion of a full five-year term before February 2013.
The ruling party accepted disqualification of the elected prime minister by the Supreme Court but many, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, considered it a blow to democracy. Personally I rejoice in the removal of the unpopular chief executive, who did nothing in four years except introduce constitutional amendments to back politicians.
Yousaf Raza Gilani may have become the second-longest serving prime minister in power, but he will always be remembered for his majestic expenditures and corruption cases filed against his family members.
Forbes magazine ranked him as the 38th most powerful person in the world. The nation did not benefit in the slightest from his power.
However what follows after him can be dangerous for the democratic outlook of the country. The Supreme Court yesterday gave the newly elected premier two weeks to write a letter to the Swiss authorities for the reopening of graft cases against the president. Gilani was convicted in the same case.
This is bad. The highly politicized apex court is putting unjust pressure on the administration, as things are finally looking brighter for the general public. In the grip of rising violence, a collapsing economy and incessant power cuts, people are finally hoping for better days. Another disqualification would snatch that hope away.
Analysts fear another advent of martial law if the standoff between the Supreme Court and the government continues. Most of our history has been marred by army rule. The military’s top brass has been ominously silent on political matters for four years, and now the clash of power players is creating fertile ground for their future involvement.
One thing remains certain. The PPP will never open corruption cases against the president. They will strive for every legal loophole in the constitution to become the first elected administration in history to complete its term in office.
Pakistan needs fresh elections. The country has become further isolated following the discovery of Osama bin Laden and the suspension of NATO support.
Relying on the whims of coalition partners to save the system has caused enough damage. This kind of blackmail has proven the greatest obstacle in Pakistan, which has become a welfare state despite high expectations for democratic reform.
One television analyst recently put it this way: “We always discuss whether Pakistan will survive. Now the question is ‘should it survive?’”
Local media have aired countless comments that reveal the deep pessimism of young people who see no future in the country. Pakistan has been ranked 13th in the latest failed states index published by Foreign Policy magazine. Last year it ranked 12th in the list.
Our leaders must help usher the country into the modern world, leave our differences behind and focus exclusively on the progress of our country.
Silent Thinker is the pseudonym of a Catholic commentator based in Lahore
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