Today, Pakistan stands at a critical point in time. The political tension which has been building up in Pakistan for decades is now at its peak and it is safe to say that the political scenario of Pakistan has reached an impasse. The current power structure if analyzed, has been clearly designed to ensure the dominance of, in Marx’s terminology, the bourgeoisie of this society. The Marxist claim is that the bourgeoisie plays a heroic role by revolutionizing industry and modernizing society. However, it also seeks to monopolize the benefits of this modernization by exploiting the property less proletariat and thereby creating revolutionary tensions. The end result, according to Marx, will be a final revolution in which the property of the bourgeoisie is expropriated and class conflict, exploitation, and the state are abolished. This is exactly what the social and political scenario has come down to; a system of jobbery and nepotism with revolutionary forces standing against it. The focus points of the rulers of this self-destructive system as pointed out above are industrialization and modernization as we have seen practically happen during the ‘Sharif-regime’. This indeed plays the role of the so-called silver lining which some desperately try to cling on to, forgetting all the while that the basic needs of the masses (which the ruling elite sadly seem least concerned about) remain largely ignored. The Masclow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a sociological reality. Looked at from a macro perspective, it explains what motivates growth and progress. The base of a journey towards a progressive society is the fulfillment of the physiological and safety needs of a society; air, food, drink, shelter, protection from elements, security, order, law and stability- and in Pakistan’s case right now, it is important to add- petrol. The higher level of development through mastery and independence can not be achieved unless the basic needs explained above are fulfilled. This is why a industrial-development based approach is not at all suitable for a country like Pakistan where the greatest problems, even after 67 years of independence are food, shelter, law, security, energy and education.
On all forums from media to ‘drawing-room discussions’ parallels are being drawn between the Punjab government of PMLN and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government of PTI and there is endless debate as to which government is performing better (while it is generally accepted that the Sindh government is failing on all levels and the Baluchistan government is being encouraged by all major parties and is making an effort to perform). The PMLN government, under the Chief Minister ship of Shahbaz Sharif has shown development sector to be their sole focus and even with all the evidence against it, they persistently believe in their magic formula i.e construction projects (with massive corruption involved in each project initiated) + elite services + family appointments + politicized police force + bribed media + increased taxation of the poor + rising prices and reduced subsidies for basic necessities (all the while letting business men carry on import/export on massive scale without any taxation) = Progress.
But is it? Unfortunately for all, this magic formula is no more magic than is pulling a rabbit out of a hat; trickery, deceit and a play on the minds of the masses by a master manipulator.
The most common reply when PMLN representatives are questioned on this usually ends on a question; ‘What has Imran Khan done in KP?’ First of all, this answer-by-questioning technique is a centuries old technique to divert the topic when one does not have anything in their defense, hence they try to tackle the problem by going on the offense side. This itself speaks volumes on the failure of Punjab government. However, it is of course important to gauge KP government’s approach and it’s degree of success, if any. The KP government from day one has clarified its focus points the first of which was to start plucking out the weeds in the governmental system i.e eliminating corruption, depoliticizing the police force, bringing an end to the ‘patwari’ system ensuring easy access to justice and dealing with the security threats; the greatest of which was the issue of regular drone attacks being carried out when the current KP government took oath. The success of KP government in achieving all these goals is reflected in the views of the people of KP and the international praise and awards being showed on them for setting an example for all others to follow. The second focus point, as outlined in the PTI manifesto, was combating the energy crisis and rising prices of basic necessities and indeed Pakistan witnessed as the steps taken in this direction started to bear fruit within the first six months of the current KP government under Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.
Further more, as promised, KP government’s third focus point is reforming education and health sectors. Government hospitals and schools are being metamorphasized from low quality breeding zones for the poor to highly competent and maintained institutions in order to ensure that basic human rights of health and education are granted to every citizen. Every government hospital provides free basic health care and in the case of education, stipends are given to every school-going girl in order to encourage female education. Projects like building an Education City, ‘Sehat ka Insaf’, ‘Parho aur Zindagi Badlo’ (enrollment drive after an educational emergency was declared) and ‘Tameer e School’ were launched with fundamental focus on transparency of the projects, maintaining the zero-tolerance towards corruption stance of KP government. Not only are these projects launched along with various other measures being enforced on a regular basis, but their maintenance is also ensured through strict follow ups and compliance procedures such as electronic attendance monitoring systems for teachers as well as students to eliminate ‘Ghost-Schools’ which have prevailed for decades in Pakistan and have served as outlets for a massive amount of corruption and loss of funds.
All in all over the one and a half year of governance, a pattern of starting with ensuring the provision of basic human rights and combating the prevalent problems in the region has been observed to be dealt with on an emergency basis with development projects being carried out on the sidelines as well.
PMLN has on the other hand, focused on development projects as its focus with education being dealt with on the sidelines and as for health and law and order, no visible progress is observed at all. I wonder, what will a 50 million dollar metro do if there is no petrol? Would it not have been better to spend this money on making pending payments? The priorities of both governments are pretty clear by now. While Punjab government builds bridges and roads (f.y.i: materials supplied by Ittefaq Mills), KP government builds a future. Where Shahbaz Sharif talks about the metro bus, Pervez Khattak talks about justice. Where PMLN family sits at the very top of the status quo, PTI family stands against it. As we have recently seen, when KP government makes a mistake; they correct it while here in Punjab every governance blunder is followed by a bigger disaster- while Rana Sana Ullah and Marvi Memon come on TV and keep defending each disaster their party leadership is thrusting upon the nation. I wonder, what became of all the governance experience that PMLN boasted of? It is becoming increasingly clear what field their experience is best in. The railway industry is brewing in corruption under it’s minister Saad Rafique and PSO has defaulted on it’s payments. The only experience that takes a government to not know it’s country’s petrol reserves are running out is- experience in ignorance.
As I see it, PTI has proven to stand by the principles based on the spirit on which Pakistan was founded 67 years ago. Through practice, they have shown the world that the idea of ‘Naya Pakistan’ is based on what Pakistan was initially meant to be- an implementation of the vision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. May we all be able to do justice to the blood of our ancestors for this homeland. Pakistan Zindabad.
Article By: Rida Adnan Khan