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Elections and the greater common good

The most sought after event in Pakistan is on and the people of this country have great store by this event. What does it mean to the common person? Will their lives be changed by this event? Will they be happy at their candidate’s victory and will they hold him to the promises made? There are paradoxical issues that abound in this country and I for one do not see the evidence that any one can deliver for the common good. The nearest any one can get to is Imran Khan. I may be biased but then I know practically all the top players in this political game. I cannot stand on judgement on them for they have made their bed and they will have to eventually live in it.

The ideas that are coming forth in this election have for centuries been debated and the jury in some cases is still out. The issue is not whether the issues have been tackled or not, some have been dealt with successfully but as Thomas Jefferson said a constitution is an important document but it is not etched in stone and therefore there must be some degree of flexibility to bring about a change when society so desires. Who then determines what society does desire? The game is played so narrowly that ultimately the losers are the common persons. The last days of the last parliamentarians and those in power is based solely on the assumption that the individual that is going out of power must somehow be protected. To oversee the elections we have teams coming in from the Western democracies. Why? Why cannot we do our own work rather than allow others to stand judgement on our actions? Are these people sensitive to our culture or are they going to behave like the imperialists that have gone before? What will the new elected government do to redress the social balance? Can they even understand the equilibrium that is sought for the common man? Pakistan has bettered the record of Rip Van Winkle and the power base has largely been sleeping. Who commands the economies of Pakistan? I say economies because there are concentric circles of economic actions that have to be understood and not the silly one-time option of either market or non-market organisation of economic power. Does Pakistani power block have any idea as to what is the requirement of the common man? Of the entire Planning Commission chairman that I have dealt with no one suited the job more than Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali. He above all tried to redress this balance between the rural and the urban divide. Had he been allowed to continue matters may well have been different? But then that meant that those that were not gaining anything from the system had to intrigue against him.

The option of the perpetrators of intrigue is also one that needs to be understood. They eventually fall a victim of their own intrigue. What a fall they have? Now that some of them at high places have taken the benefit[s] they will be seeking other greener pastures. They have taken Pakistan to serfdom and the average Pakistani now seems to think that there is no hope for them. Is it possible that the elections will renew that hope that they have never realised? Will the bigwigs in the various parties have that duty of care that is their right? Look what we have done under the garb of WB? We have privatised the economy to such an extent that the inflationary trends cannot be contained. Every privatisation element contains within it the roots of inflation and a trend not to be regulated. Can we regulate the private schools and universities? Have we not made education exceptionally expensive? Have we not made health expensive and when one is on a life battle we expect him to be honest and not cut corners. The tentacles of the MNCs are now wide and almost reaching cancerous proportions. The milk industry is now more expensive then when it was started. While the CEOs move around in Mercks and BMWs the poor consumer is fleeced. They have let out a tirade against the doodhiya (milk person indigenous) but they themselves have made life miserable by the additives that they have added. The doodhiya only adds water to milk while the processing industry has made all kinds of interventions that are not healthy. It is now fourth degree and the public patients will die unless major surgery is done. So when the naïve politicians make all these overtures as to what they would do and how they would do it they have no idea of ground realities. No one has read the market and no one understands the nuances of human behaviour. Greed, mean and malicious behaviour is not easy to contain. There are no rules in the economic system that can counter this. Try as you may one has to make a choice between two bad systems and the less bad of the two has to be then implemented. There is something wrong in the psyche of the people. They have not been able to understand the power structure and how it works. Give any Bacha Saqqa authority for one day and he will try and use it to his advantage. The caretakers of the past and those in the present are doing this at will. Time with them is limited so all kinds of time bar orders are being passed. Why should the bureaucracy accept these illegal orders? For the past five years of this government and all the past governments added on, the bureaucracy has been battered. The Punjab is so bad that the minute one tells them to stand up and be counted they start to shiver. These are the new eunuchs that we have. None of them had the courage to tell the political system that they are not to do all their biddings. Try telling them to right any wrong and you will find that the toilet doors will swing open because when the ‘N’ group comes back what will happen to them. Do not expect any decency from them. Do you for a minute think that the bus project was worth it? It starts from no where and ends no where. Why Ferozepur road for is that the main artery or should it not have been the Mall or Jail road or any other cardinal road. Ferozepur road all the time sir and all the bridges because Ittefaq happens to be on that road. First the iron loaded trolleys have to take the goods to the market so that the road is required. Go to any processing milk plant owned by the powerful and you will see special roads to cater for the sugarcane trucks. What is the solution you will ask me? Well here goes? Small sugar mills should surround these large mills and a competitive structure ought to be created so that the power of the cartels is eliminated; so also with other mills and other industrial concerns. One had tried this with the oil mafia and successfully competed with them. Forget the economies of scale. Under useless economic principles we have made life difficult for the country. Take the MNCs food industry and the soft drinks industry what was wrong with the localised soft drinks, what was wrong with the localized ice cream makers and what was wrong with the sharbats that beat the heat and cooled one down. We are our own worst enemies. Try any option that the powerful do not like and you will see that the world will come down hard on you. We have made a habit of Riaz’s in the system. There is one that has emerged in Karachi.

Pakistanis must allow for economic culture to develop within the country. The mistake that one makes are correctable but the mistakes that are made in the name of western technologies are not. One is unintentional and the other is intentional mistake. The ordinary person should pray while the industrial sector should not prey. What a difference one alphabet makes. Elections are round the corner. Can spring be far behind? Watch and wait.

Dr. Zafar Altaf, "Elections and the greater common good," Business recorder. 2013-05-11.
Keywords: Political system , Political crisis , Political leaders , Political issues , Political change , Elections , Imran Khan , Pakistan