WE grew up in an era symbolising integrity and altruism. My shining moment came when I had a brush with death in the 1965 war with India. But our romanticism with idealism since then came to grief several times.

We are witnessing a familiar political scenario: flashback of electioneering, hee-haw and promises of fair and transparent elections. It was full of fire and fury then as is the drama being enacted now. It did not signify anything then, will it signify anything now?

In the past five years, the government did not seem to function on any national issues, be it internal security, energy, unemployment, corruption and host of others.

It is the calculated manner in which the poor have been conditioned to this type of defeatism that makes countrymen wonder: is there any silver lining for the future?

Borrowing Bill Clinton’s famous campaign slogan, ‘it is the economy, stupid’, yes we can overcome the challenges ahead: a firm commitment to hard work and simple living.

Greater stress on reduction of wasteful expenses and tight monetary policies will give a jump-start.

As a starter, I ask all political leadership to include the following in their manifesto and implement them once they are in power.

There should not be more than about 25 federal and 15 provincial ministers qualified and competent for the ministry. The State Bank of Pakistan should be independent and strictly adhere to the fiscal policies.

The auditor-general at the federal and provincial levels must report financial irregularities every quarter.

This will ensure financial discipline among the ruling elite.

Allocation of development funds to MNAs and MPAs must be stopped because they are legislators and not contractors. It should be handled by the elected local bodies’ members.

There should be elections of members of local bodies within three months of the formation of provincial governments.

There should be no allotment of plots or arms licences to MNAs or MPAs. Only locals should be appointed in police and intelligence services.

Allocation of funds to education and healthcare should start from three to four per cent of the GDP.

Political parties should immediately implement the decisions of courts and ensure the rule of law.

It is very tempting to oversimplify the inherent tyranny of corrupt leaders. But such black and white thinking will lead us nowhere. Judicial activism has paved the way for civil courage to emerge and emboldened the people to resist oppression.

Similarly, the media is more vibrant. The electronic media is breaking news at a supersonic speed. Ruling with constraints is now the dilemma of the ruling elite but old habits die hard.

While all eyes are on the elections, my thoughts are with the moral fibre and work ethics of rulers who are ridiculed openly. Travelling between my hopeful youth and cynical current self, I ask myself: will the new rulers match up to the challenges ahead?

Long ago I read and was struck by the message of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in his essay Umeed Ki Kiran (Ray of Hope) in which he urges not to despair or lose heart.

Salaam Pakistan.

WG-CDR (r) MUSHTAQ AHMED Doha, Qatar

Updated Apr 11, 2013 05:10am

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Comments (Closed)


Agha Ata (USA)
Apr 11, 2013 01:14pm
In a Democratic manifesto the top priority should be given to a secular government. Number two should be Law & Order. Number three should be collection of Taxes (especially from landlords) and eradicating corruption. Then comes the peaceful living of all minorities, getting rid of our blasphemy laws and women?s issues. (Women are still treated in this country worse than minorities! The list is long, but these are the most important issues; I have yet to see a political party covering all these points in their manifestos! May God put some sense in their heads? Unless these things are done, I don?t think that we have even made a sensible start.
smhusain1
Apr 11, 2013 04:25pm
The outgoing Prime Minister wanted a security detail of about a hundred cops each for life for himself and his predecessor.. There are others like him where expenditure is concerned. The only untried guy is Imran Khan who has accomplished something for the people other than rhetoric only, as actions speak louder than words. But his softness elsewhere on sensitive issues of internal security borders on ethnic bias and the unending, unfolding promises, which I hope are not election boastful stunts seen before. I know that talking is always good and there should never be any fear in its initiation, also the government has never been open about its permission on drone strikes and the havoc resulting as a result in material and psychological terms in the concerned area.
ExPakistani
Apr 11, 2013 07:54pm
Keep on dreaming. Specially when you are away from Pakistan.