Bring back good governance
By Anwer Mooraj
The writer served as executive director of the Pakistan American Cultural Center from 1990-2004 email@example.com
In the 64 years that this country has muddled through, there hasn’t been a single leader whom one could proudly point to and say: “Here is a role model for the rest of Asia whose example others can emulate.” Pakistan has not yet produced a Zhou Enlai, or a Ho Chi Minh, nor is it likely to do so. Leadership has been singularly lacking in this country. Most prime ministers from Khawaja Nazimuddin in 1951, through to Mr Muhammad Ali Bogra (1953), Chaudhry Muhammad Ali (1955) and Mr Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar, who lasted two months in 1957 and was replaced in the same year by Mr Nurul Amin (1971), have been uninspiring, and, at times, panoramically bereft of insight or any sort of aesthetic panache.
There was, however, one exception, the barrister, Husain Shaheed Suhrawardy of the Awami League, who served from September 12, 1956 to October 17, 1957 at the time of the Suez crisis. He was intelligent and inspiring, and did not share the excoriating provincial primness of others who plunged headlong into the 20th century’s great ideological chasms without contributing anything worthwhile. Mr Suhrawardy might have been able to provide a sense of direction but, unfortunately, he fell foul of the warp and weft of the establishment.
In 1958, what passed for democracy was replaced by martial law, an authoritarian government that set the trend for future takeovers by the military. Naturally, civil liberties were withdrawn and the political parties were sent packing. This was, in many ways, the most progressive and the most peaceful 11 years in the country’s history.
Dr Schacht, Hitler’s finance minister, showed the secular General Ayub Khan how he could build up his country industrially and financially. In those days a dollar was worth four rupees and petrol cost one and a quarter rupees a gallon. Skilled labour from Mirpur operated the mills of Lancashire and Yorkshire and a Pakistani could travel anywhere in the world without a visa, except, of course, to Washington and Moscow. There was employment and investment and people felt safe. If ever there was good governance in the country, this was it.
Most people have said that they couldn’t care less what kind of government was in power, whether it was democracy or enlightened despotism, so long as it provided good governance. And by good governance they meant primarily the rule of law, and the protection of the weak against the strong.
In Pakistan, the worst kind of governance has taken place under what passes for democracy. The highly-armed law enforcement personnel, that one sees on the roads, have been hired to guard VIPs and parliamentarians. Isn’t it time the chief minister took a little interest in the average citizen and taxpayer who is at the mercy of kidnappers, thugs and rapists?
Source: The Express Tribune