The HDI for Pakistan is 0.551, which gives the country a rank of 136th out of 177 countries. Pakistan is one of the poorest countries with 66% of the total population living on less than US$ 2 a day. Over 40% of the total population of Pakistan continues to live below the poverty line. The current price hike and inflation, rampant corruption, elected but non-representative political leadership have further adversely affected the situation and worsened peoples’ vulnerabilities, vividly manifested in the good governance vacuum. Based on the historical perspective of Pakistan; underlying causes of poor governance are identified as issues of political instability, consistent military interventions in governance, uneven distribution of resources, poor human resource development, lack of supremacy of law, concentration of power and resources in the hands of a small percentage of population i.e. ruling elite, and the State’s abrogation of its responsibilities to provide services, good governance and social justice.
Foreign, defense, and domestic security policies are dominated by the military establishment’s mindset which undermines any civilian government’s efforts for peace with neighboring countries and within the country. The military’s perception of external and existential threat is India centric due the unresolved Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek issues with a history of 3 wars and the Kargil misadventure. Militarily and economically being the weaker state, Pakistan’s military turned to the US and its allies by signing the SEATO and CENTO treaties while adopting the doctrine of the “Fifth Column” strategy. Created Jihadi militant groups to infiltrate Indian Held Kashmir and conduct guerrilla warfare with the objective of inflicting substantial damage to the Indian military. Pakistan’s military strategists subscribing to outdated doctrines hoped to resolve the issue by proxy wars instead of putting moral pressure through conforming to UN resolutions for a Plebiscite in both Indian and Pakistan held Kashmir by withdrawing its military forces and allowing UN peace keepers to take over AJK. This would have placed the International and UN pressure on India to do the same thus resolving the contentious issue peacefully.
The Pakistani state’s violations of Constitutional, Fundamental and Human Rights of people’s sovereignty and security also needs to be addressed. Balochistan which received provincial status in 1970 has been subjected to state violence since its, legal or illegal is still debated, accession to Pakistan in 1948. It has faced military operations in 1948, 1958, 1962-68, 1973-77 and the ongoing since 2004, only because the Baloch have been demanding Provincial Autonomy with control over their natural resources. The latest is the most brutal with the ISI and Frontier Corp having been given carte blanche police powers to abduct, torture and hold incognito, without recourse to courts, extra judicial murders and dumping of mutilated, tortured, shot in the head at point blank range bodies of reported missing persons in desolate places allegedly through mercenary gangs. The Baloch claim some 1,300 missing persons and over 450 killed.
The intellectually bankrupt and financially corrupt civilian ruling elite along with the civil/military bureaucracy has over the years contributed to abrogation of the state’s responsibilities, bad or at times no governance for their personal vested financial interests, corruption and feudal mindset. This, 5% of the population, autocratic ruling elite has accumulated 85% of the national wealth over the last 65 years and continues to siphon off these monies to banks and investments in Europe, Middle East and the American continent. The energy crisis, railways, steel mills, OGDC, PIA, security of life and property in Karachi, Balochistan, FATA, and Gilgit Baltistan, the Jihadist and terrorist groups are the result of defective regional, political, foreign, defense, fiscal analysis and policies, bad enough during the previous military regime have become worse and close to default under the present civilian government.
While making, some meaningful some not so meaningful, changes in governance the third tier of governance, Local Government; the essence of democratic governance; has been abolished by the provinces reverting back to the colonial local bodies system of the Zia-ul-Haq’s military era under the 18th Amendment. This perpetuates selective power structures at the district level while safeguarding the feudal interests of the autocratic political parties. No single political party can claim democratic dispensation within its own ranks and are actually two faces of the same coin. Familial hegemony rules all political parties and is based on personality and the pursuance of particular interests instead of showing commitment to collective interests and values.
The military’s ascendency and domination of the political sphere in Pakistan stems from the propagated Indian threat perceptions to the existence of the country in the light of the unfinished agenda of partition mainly the Kashmir issue. Making this the rationale for having such a large military which infringes on socio-economic budgets to the tune of 40% of the annual budgets directly while repayment of international loans taken to purchase expensive weaponry and hardware takes up some 25%. The three pillars of governance, Executive (and its bureaucratic branches), Legislature and Judiciary, have been constantly pitted against each other, institutions weakened, undemocratic governance promoted with the advantage being taken by the military establishment. Governance in Pakistan is based on arbitrary policy making, unaccountable bureaucracies, unenforced or unjust legal systems, the abuse of executive power, a civil society unengaged in public life, and widespread corruption.
It is also evident that the menace of terrorism having transnational networks and outreach cannot be effectively combated by any country in isolation. It is imperative therefore to develop an effective collective approach at the SAARC level. It is noteworthy to mention that a SAARC Convention on combating terrorism (1987) is in existence and has been ratified by all member states.
Balochistan is in the throes of another military sponsored bloody genocidal civil war since 2004. The Baloch claim over 1,300 missing persons and more than 450 brutally tortured, mutilated, shot at close range bodies of missing persons dumped near roads and towns to instill fear in the Baloch nationalists who were demanding their Constitutional, Fundamental, Human rights and control over natural resources. Break away nationalist forces from the mainstream political parties are now beginning to demand cessation and an independent Balochistan as their experiences of broken promises and agreements, and dismissal of elected governments after resistance wars in 1948, 1958, 1962-68, 1973-77 and the ongoing genocidal war; have hardened their resolve to throw off the yoke of oppression, repression of their legitimate Constitutional, Fundamental and Human rights by the Pakistani security state.
Before Balochistan was able to wrestle provincial status in 1970, it too was ruled under the FCR in a similar manner as FATA. The President and Governor of West Pakistan ruled the Kalat State through political agents just as the British colonial powers did; with an iron hand, denying the Balochistani’s their Constitutional, Fundamental and human rights, control over natural resources or benefits thereof. Baloch nationalist leaders like Nawab Nouroz Khan and six of his sons and nephews (1960), Lavangh Khan Mengal, Safar Khan Zehri, Asad-ullah Mengal, Ahmed Shah Kurd (all between 1973-77), Ghulam Mohammad, Lala Munir, Sher Mohammad, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Nawabzada Balach Khan Marri, Habib Jalib, Ghulam Mohammad Dashti, (all killed since 2006) have been murdered in extra judicial targeted killings by the security establishment and their proxies. These are just a few names of well known Baloch leaders while there are thousands more political and student activists killed in the wars and most in the present ongoing civil war. Balochistan desperately needs to be stabilized in as short a time as possible by the Pakistani Federation.
Balochistan as a whole is under great political, socio-economic stress due to the law and order situation (civil war) in the province. Human rights violations are an everyday occurrence by state institutions and non state actors. Sectarian and ethnic violence has also been steadily increasing since 2007. The Federal and provincial governments seem to be helpless and without any serious strategy to end the conflict in Balochistan. Mutilated, tortured shot at close range bodies of Baloch nationalist political activists are found nearly every day while non-Baloch settlers in the province are also under constant threat to their lives and property. Civil society organizations in general are unable to work in the province due to restrictions by law enforcement agencies and government. Due to the ongoing conflict in the Bugti and Marri thousands of IDPs have been forced to seek refuge in the adjacent districts of Jafferabad, Naseerabad, Bolan and Sibi. No governmental support has been provided to them and civil society organizations have not been allowed to provide any support either. Jafferabad shares a common border with district Dera Bugti on the Sobatpur and Dera Allahyar tehsils border and are susceptible off and on to militant attacks on gas pipelines, electricity pylons etc.
Definition of Governance
The concept of “governance” is not new. However, it means different things to different people therefore we have to get our focus right. The actual meaning of the concept depends on the level of governance we are talking about, the goals to be achieved and the approach being followed. The concept has been around in both political and academic discourse for a long time, referring in a generic sense to the task of running a government, or any other appropriate entity for that matter. In this regard the general definition provided by Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1986:982) is of some assistance, indicating only that governance is a synonym for government, or “the act or process of governing, specifically authoritative direction and control”. This interpretation specifically focuses on the effectiveness of the executive branch of government.
The working definition used by the British Council, however, emphasizes that “governance” is a broader notion than government (and for that matter also related concepts like the state, good government and regime), and goes on to state: “Governance involves interaction between the formal institutions and those in civil society. Governance refers to a process whereby elements in society wield power, authority and influence and enact policies and decisions concerning public life and social uplift.” “Governance”, therefore, not only encompasses but transcends the collective meaning of related concepts like the state, government, regime and good government.
Many of the elements and principles underlying “good government” have become an integral part of the meaning of “governance”. John Healey and Mark Robinson define “good government” as follows: “It implies a high level of organizational effectiveness in relation to policy-formulation and the policies actually pursued, especially in the conduct of economic policy and its contribution to growth, stability and popular welfare. Good government also implies accountability, transparency, participation, openness and the rule of law. It does not necessarily presuppose a value judgment, for example, a healthy respect for civil and political liberties, although good government tends to be a prerequisite for political legitimacy”.
The definition of governance provided by the World Bank in ‘Governance: The World Banks Experience’, as it has special relevance for the developing world:
“Good governance is epitomized by predictable, open and enlightened policy-making, a bureaucracy imbued with professional ethos acting in furtherance of the public good, the rule of law, transparent processes, and a strong civil society participating in public affairs. Poor governance (on the other hand) is characterized by arbitrary policy making, unaccountable bureaucracies, unenforced or unjust legal systems, the abuse of executive power, a civil society unengaged in public life, and widespread corruption.”
The World Bank’s focus on governance reflects the worldwide thrust toward political and economic liberalization. Such a governance approach highlights issues of greater state responsiveness and accountability, and the impact of these factors on political stability and economic development. In its 1989 report, From Crisis to Sustainable Growth, the World Bank expressed this notion as follows:
“Efforts to create an enabling environment and to build capacities will be wasted if the political context is not favorable. Ultimately, better governance requires political renewal. This means a concerted attack on corruption from the highest to lowest level. This can be done by setting a good example, by strengthening accountability, by encouraging public debate, and by nurturing a free press. It also means … fostering grassroots and non-governmental organizations such as farmers’ associations, co-operatives, and women’s groups”.
Apart from the World Bank’s emphasis on governance, it is also necessary to refer to academic literature on governance, which mostly originates from scholars working with international development and donor agencies. The majority of these scholars have concentrated almost exclusively on the issue of political legitimacy, which is the dependent variable produced by effective governance. Governance, as defined here, is “the conscious management of regime structures, with a view to enhancing the public realm”.
The contribution of Goran Hyden to bring greater clarity to the concept of governance needs special attention. He elevates governance to an “umbrella concept to define an approach to comparative politics” an approach that fills analytical gaps left by others. Using a governance approach, he emphasizes “the creative potential of politics, especially with the ability of leaders to rise above the existing structure of the ordinary, to change the rules of the game and to inspire others to partake in efforts to move society forward in new and productive directions”. His views boil down to the following:
Governance are conceptual approaches that, when fully elaborated, can frame a comparative analysis of macro-politics. Governance concerns “big” questions of a “constitutional” nature that establish the rules of political conduct. Governance involves creative intervention by political actors to change structures that inhibit the expression of human potential. Governance is a rational concept, emphasizing the nature of interactions between state and social actors, and among social actors themselves. Governance refers to particular types of relationships among political actors: that is, those which are socially sanctioned rather than arbitrary.
It is clear that the concept of governance has over the years gained momentum and a wider meaning. Apart from being an instrument of public affairs management, or a gauge of political development, governance has become a useful mechanism to enhance the legitimacy of the public realm. It has also become an analytical framework or approach to comparative politics.
Governance institutions in Pakistan have not been allowed to evolve in a democratic framework by the periodic interruptions of the process by military interventions. This has led to weakening state structures, while promoting arbitrary and nepotistic mindset within these structures thus promoting corrupt practices and bad governance. Rationality and common sense have disappeared from the body politic to the extent that the Constitution has been relegated to pieces of paper which can be thrown into the dustbin, not only by the military dictator but also by civilian governments. The rule of law does not exist while rules and procedures for provision of social justice to the people are deliberately skewered towards safeguarding the interests of the ruling elite and thus discriminatory and disenfranchising towards the common person.
The fault lies not only in the implementation of the law and policies but in the Constitution itself which in many cases either is silent or weak on transparency, accountability, checks and balance and at the same time some Articles and Clauses are contradictory and exclusionary instead of being inclusive of all peoples and regions. To take an example let us compare Article 1, 246 and 247. The Constitution is applicable to all territories of Pakistan.
Articles 1, 246 and 247 can be seen to be contradictory in terms of democratic governance and violation of the Fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution as 246 and 247 exclude these areas and peoples from Constitutional governance while promoting one man rule, that of the President through the governor and political agent. The 1901 colonial law known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) (still in vogue) violates the Fundamental rights of the people of these areas through the “collective responsibility” of the tribe in cases of crimes by individuals. Apart from holding the men, women and children of the criminal person’s tribe are held responsible to bring the criminal to, first the tribal jirga which enforces punishment citing traditional and customary practices like VANI, settlement of dispute through compensation by giving offender’s family girls in marriage to the aggrieved party, secondly re-enforced by the political agent which constitutes Human and Fundamental rights violations. There are many other violations of rights in all spheres of life. The peoples of FATA and PATA are thus denied citizenship rights by this exclusion.
There are many such provisions in the Constitution that need to be repealed or amended like the 8th Amendment, Law of Evidence, Blasphemy, Qisas and Diyat etc; introduced by military dictators.
The Election Commission
Ostensibly this provision of the Constitution presents a democratic and credible framework for the formation of the Election Commission. Unfortunately, since the election commission is not a permanent body i.e. the Chief Election Commissioner’s and officer’s at the Federal and Provincial level tenures are time bound and thus dependent on Parliament’s and Prime Minister’s pleasure it cannot function independently and invariably comes under political pressure. This situation needs to be rectified and the Election Commissions, both Federal and Provincial, made permanent until resignation or retirement to avoid the political pressures in conformity to International free and fair election commissions and practices.
The inclusion of theology, in the shape of Aalim or Ulema, in a representative body through proportional representation from the provincial assemblies brings in the element of non-secularism leading to conflict over laws within the body politic. At the same time proportional representation election of women into parliament is counterproductive for women’s political empowerment. Wives, sisters, daughters and family members, friends of the ruling elite are listed and elected to seats reserved for women. This has a negative effect on the credibility of the women thus elected. At the same time the indirect elections lowers the status and prestige of the Senate especially when the house (supposedly the upper house) has no direct legislative and fiscal powers. Since the Senate has equal representation from all provinces it must be made the final approving house for all legislation and fiscal policies, which can only happen if all members are directly elected. The reserved seats for women, minorities etc in both houses should be continued but instead of proportional representation should be filled through direct elections while increasing these seats to 30% (17% at the moment). This will ensure greater representation and transparency. The house majority thus gained would be democratic while allowing space to candidates other than families of the ruling elite.
An independent Judiciary is a prerequisite for democratic good governance, checks on the Executive, bureaucracy, administration, while interpreting the Constitution and protecting the fundamental rights of the common people from abuse and violation of their rights by the state. Reforms are needed in the judicial system while ensuring access to justice in a timely, economical manner. The maxim “justice delayed is justice denied” holds true in Pakistan today as cases linger on for years without resolution. The District, Sessions, High and Supreme Courts are over burdened with thousands of case backlog. The system may have to be extended by establishing High Courts at the district level while the SC benches at the provincial level may need more judges.
The Military establishment must not be allowed to dictate Foreign, Domestic, and Security policy to the Executive and Parliament, which it does to justify its disproportionately large establishment and demands on the exchequer as a political power broker. It has to remain within the parameters defined in the Constitution and the Military Act and not interfere in the realm of governance or policing. The Turkish example must be studied on how Turkey has gradually over the last ten years been able to bring the military under control of the Parliament and the Executive. The Military Act has to be amended to include such laws, rules that restrict the military high command from the adventurism it has indulged in over the past 53 years. This can only happen if the democratic process is allowed to function free of the fear of military coups through empowerment of a truly representative Parliament and Executive with a people’s centered agenda.
As is evident from this Article 245(2), (3), the Supreme and High Courts are barred from protecting the public or questioning the violations of Fundamental, Human Rights by the Armed Forces while acting in aid of civil power.
The fundamental rights are violated by the military, paramilitary, intelligence and law and order agencies (police) nearly every day even in the non-conflict areas. The system comprises of ill trained, corrupt staff operating under constant feudal and political pressures. The police system needs to be reformed with modern forensic and investigative techniques, training and made independent of the politicians.
Good governance cannot be ensured if there is delink between the people and the state institutions. In the case of Pakistan many experiments have been done to bring about linkages and representation from the grass-roots but all except one have failed to bridge this gap. The one that could be termed as the nursery for grooming politicians was the system introduced albeit by a military dictator.
The three tier Local Government System
In the execution of this system there were certain systemic and legal gaps and was misused by the ruling elite in as much as getting family members elected and bringing in their own brand of corruption to it. It is noteworthy that this system empowered women, peasants, labor and minorities at the village level for the first time in the political history of Pakistan. To some extent (conceptually) it mimicked the Kerala model institutionalized by India in 1974 upon the Justice Sen report on local governance through the 74th Amendment. Unfortunately Pakistan did not give constitutional cover to the system and after the 18th Amendment the subject devolved to the provinces that not only abolished the system but are planning to revert (Sindh has already reverted) to the Commissioner led system of local bodies of another military dictator because that gave a stronger political hold to the Chief Ministers, provincial governments and bureaucracy. This system has always been illegally used to get cronies elected to the provincial assemblies and the National Assembly.
It is, therefore, essential to pressurize the provincial governments to continue with the Local Government System of 2002. Gaps and lacunae can be addressed through amendments and reforms but peoples centered governance can only be delivered through genuine representation and development at the grassroots level.
Conflict and Peace
Conflicts within the country and regionally have been driven by the military’s interventions in the democratic process and domination of Pakistan’s Foreign, Domestic, Security policy domain. It is difficult to attain good governance practices in such a scenario and therefore there is a need to strengthen democratic processes, Parliament and civilian rule conforming to the constitution, ensuring social justice and fundamental rights of the people and by ensuring the peoples socio-economic and political participation and development in a peaceful environment.