US President George W. Bush has been facing failure in Pakistan as the terrorists have almost reached to the point from they can take control of the whole country, but his cronies in Pakistan can do nothing to stop them. Terrorists have been making advacement with great speed. Political situation here is very fluid. Though election has been held, but now there is a tug-of-war as to will be the next prime minister of Pakistan. President Pervez Musharraf has expressed his willingness to work with the new government, but the politicians are not ready to accept him.
Rasul Bakhsh Rais in his latest essay published in Daily Times discussed the situation of Pakistan. Empirical evidence suggests that even the worst of democratic governments are better than the most benign dictatorships. They are more responsive, responsible and work closer to popular sentiments
At the dawn of democracy, we may not see the sunshine we expect because too many problems have piled up over the past eight years; problems so many and so complex that it may not be possible for any single party to deal with them effectively. Therefore, the idea of a national government is not only about sharing power but also sharing responsibility.
It is the imperative of national reconciliation and political prudence that all major political parties join hands to pull the country back from of the edge of disaster. As the real record and performance of the Musharraf-centred regime reveals itself, the actual damage is making itself known.
The future democratic government will face many challenges but first it will have to address the structural ones, because without resolving them, the government itself may get derailed, destabilised or sabotaged. Post-authoritarian regimes are often consumed by day-to-day issues, but they cannot procrastinate on the more complex and inflexible ones.
Learning from the experience of other democracies would help in not mixing up priorities and instead ranking national goals in the best possible order.
What are the challenges ahead?
Leaders of the three major political parties that met last week in Islamabad are right on the mark as far as the first challenge is concerned: restoration of the 1973 Constitution. This is truly a sacred, and one of the most important achievements of Pakistan in terms of national consensus among federating units. Every time a general disfigured the Constitution to protect his personalised regime, he undermined the federation by eroding the trust of the provinces.
The democratic forces of the country have demonstrated unity and faith in the 1973 Constitution on two occasions: first when they adopted it, and second when they had the opportunity in 1997 to restore its original character.
We are going to witness that solidarity again when the new government is sworn in. Some of the political elements that have supported Musharraf for the past eight years want to be consistent in their anti-democratic politics by opposing such an effort. But it seems unlikely that they can hold back the surging forces of democracy in the country when their patron-in-chief is in big trouble himself and seeking an ‘honourable’ exit.
The second most important structural issue is provincial autonomy. According to the original constitutional compact, the concurrent list of powers and responsibilities had to have been transferred to the provinces within ten years. It has not happened even after two-and-a-half decades. That is a clear violation of a commitment made to the federating units, particularly the smaller provinces. It is time now to honour the compact.
The transfer of concurrent list to the provinces can be the beginning of national reconciliation, as it would be a start to ending provincial alienation. The larger issues of autonomy, empowerment and representation must be examined afresh with open hearts and minds because our country remains overly centralised at the expense of the provinces.
The third major issue relates to civil-military relations. For the past twenty years, there has been a lively debate on the proper role of the armed forces in national life. There is no shortage of apologists for military rule in our country, but a consensus has emerged among major political parties and civil society on redefining this relationship and keeping the military out of politics.
The four martial regimes and their political collaborators have weakened our federation. Consequently, the military as an institution has gravely suffered due to the political ambitions of its chiefs; the dividends of capturing the nation and ruling it could reach only the upper crust and had very little filter-down effects. And the loss of prestige and reputation has been colossal for the institution.
The best way to redefine civil-military relations is through better governance. Empirical evidence suggests that even the worst of democratic governments are better than the most benign dictatorships. They are more responsive, responsible and work closer to popular sentiments.