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EDITORIAL: Today is our 75th Independence Day, a day to celebrate but also an occasion to introspect. Should our celebration be a mere rituality or time to recollect where we went wrong and why we betrayed our forefathers who shed their blood to secure freedom? On the face of it we are placed in an apocalypse of critical dimensions and the wolves have been at our door for so long. As an independent nation our failure is colossal. We are deep in debt that nibbles whatever freedom is left with; one-third of our people are undernourished and justice is a rare commodity. Politics is vicious and security is privilege of the privileged. We are nuclear power but people remain unprotected. They are looted on the streets in day light. Essentiality, we have failed to produce honest leadership, failed to behave as responsible citizenry and sold our souls to the devil. But is there light at the end of the tunnel? Yes, it is there and can help us walk out of the lingering darkness of deprivation and hopelessness. We as people should determine who should lead us. Frankly speaking, the present political leadership on both sides of the political divide is incapable of pulling the people out of deep economic misery. Its fight is essentially for self-preservation. While the opposition is for revival of their privileged status the parties in power want their hold on power to last forever. Will the EVM help us come out of these dilemmas? There is no clear answer to this question. Seventy years on, we know how authentic was our forefathers’ cause and how legitimate was their struggle for independence. Instead of drawing on the ‘wisdom’ of individuals we need to strengthen institutions and let national decisions emerge from there instead of off-the-cuff formulations.

Let our 75th Independence Day be a day of national promise – promise by the masses and those in power and those outside of the power corridors waiting in the wings to come to power. At the political level the elected representatives, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, should spend more time within the assemblies and seriously debate and discuss the issues due for legislation instead of ordinances to be the routine law-making. They have every right to express their opinions on a variety of issues frankly and openly. Parliament is the best forum for this purpose. Their job is to check and challenge the work of government, make and change laws, debate the important issues of the day and, last but not least, check and approve government spending. At the institutional level, the duly empowered should remain absolutely politically non-aligned. And in return be certain that they owe their powers courtesy the public and not their political bosses. At the same time nobody, particularly the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – whose negative fallout on national economy and working bureaucracy is now an established fact – should be allowed to dictate personal writs and likes or dislikes. At the judicial level, the most pressing problem of general public is delay in getting justice. That millions of cases are awaiting adjudication for years is a fact—a fact certainly doesn’t shine a positive light on judiciary. One may ask why laws have not been harmonized with dictates of time, why there are not more courts and why lawyers should go on strike every second day. Another relevant issue is the Centre’s relationship with federating units, an issue that came under sharper focus during the prime minister’s recent visit of Karachi. Is he not the prime minister of the people of PPP-ruled province of Sindh as well?

As we introspect on this august day we should like to find out why Pakistan is so lonely in the international crowd. The hard fact is that we did not play our cards intelligently. Take the case of our position on Afghanistan. We were an enthusiastic partner of US-led coalition against the Soviet invasion. When the Soviets left we supported the Hekmatyar-led Mujahedeen in an internecine civil war, and then we were with Taliban who ousted the Mujahedeen from Kabul. And after 9/11, Pakistan was with the United States once again. If ‘strategic depth’ is not the objective then we should stay out of the ongoing Afghan imbroglio, and let Kabul stew in its own juices.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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