As Anatol Lieven has rightly put in his book “Pakistan A Hard Country” – “…and indeed, some of the toughest creepers holding the rotten tree of the Pakistani system together are at one and the same time parasites on that tree, and sometimes smell bad even by their own standards”.
This is indeed an irony that the word “welfare” has been repeatedly manipulated by political bigots to acquire political validation among the public. However, the meaning of welfare is yet to be understood to its real sense. Not only in modern context, welfare has been a prime aspect involving governance, public policy and planning, going back historically to its imprints in state of Medina.
While with the advent of wiki leaks followed by the recent and highly infamous Panama leaks the unaccountability and absence of checks and balances is ultimately and explicitly exposed to the public of Pakistan. Although, releasing of these confidential leaks has only re approved an already prevalent notion, where a large number of population holds a deep distrustful relationship with the governing bodies. Interestingly enough, the Panama papers website states that offshore structures are completely legal, whereas the only disadvantage it carries is the persons facilitating it. There may be criminals, money launderers or fraudulent miscreants finding their monetary safe haven in offshore structures. Thus, not all those involved in Panama leaks case are criminals.
In the words of Anatol Lieven “A fundamental political fact about Pakistan is that the state, whoever claims to lead it, is weak, and society in ts various forms is immensely strong. Anyone or any group with the slightest power in society uses it among other things to plunder the state for patronage and favors and to turn to their advantage the workings of the law and the bureaucracy. Hence the astonishing fact that barely 1 percent of the population pays income tax and the wealthiest landowners in the country pay no direct taxes at all” – Why Panama Leaks is a crime for Pakistanis?
Therefore, hullabaloo about Panama leaks centering the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family business empire has struck the nation like a storm, which is not as surprising as it may appear, especially while the opposition parties lead by the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf has emerged back from darkness with a whole new meaning to hold the government by its throat. Oblivious of the notion that offshore structures are legal, the prime focus behind nationwide anti-government sentiment is about the grave economic condition, sky rocketing inflation, and scarce energy resources expecting a symbolic, clean and humble contribution to country’s weak economic situation from the Prime Minister and his parliamentarians as an act of moral obligation.
Moreover, it is also evident by the Pakistani names appearing in Panama leaks that system of kinship and family patronage still rules the power circles. It may have been declared obsolete, irrelevant and even politically boasted to be removed and replaced by a system of merit-based hiring, it is indeed the reason why the democratic system in Pakistan have repeatedly disappointed the public after each successfully conducted election, where elected representatives hurriedly take up their charge to recruit as much of acquaintances as possible instead of focusing on “good” governance vis.a.vis. welfare of the people.
Hyped by the resignation of Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson in the wake of Panama Leaks, an anti-Cameron protests are stirring up in Britain following his family’s involvement in Panama leaks case. In Pakistan thus, it is equally been referred to as a morally-appreciated step to consider a ministerial level resignations from the parliamentarians involved in offshore monetary transfers. Who can change?
As rightly stated by Anatol Lieven the society in Pakistan has remained stronger throughout the most of known history, hence giving a strong edge, yet a disadvantage for it to either route its power to success or destruction. It also clearly signifies that once the social attitudes and behaviors could be brought to complete overhaul political corruption and power exploitation can be fixed. An example from “British system” could be garnered in this aspect, where a system of unquestionable political, judicial equality prevails and norms based on rule of law, liberty and justice are ingrained in social fabric of the nation. Therefore, the change shall begin from the very core of the society, the common man.
Understanding the “Welfare State”
It can indeed be said about the current government “to have dug its own grave”. Prioritizing unnecessary development projects at behest of personal projection midst historical economic downfall cannot be termed nothing but outright shoddy, incompetence, and of course an open invitation to the opposition to weaken the government for all the right reasons.
In his book Introduction to Political Science, Professor. Dr. Muhammad Sarwar has stated several sayings from the writing of legendary academicians, philosophers and political scientists on the functioning of a welfare state. However, he has concluded the few indicators for assessing a claim of a government considering itself a welfare state or to be working towards becoming one.
|Maintenance of Law & Order||This is the basic function of the state to maintain law and order in order to protect life, liberty and property. This also includes defense against external aggression for which regular armies are maintained and foreign relation conducted.|
|Administration of Justice||Provision of justice is a primary duty of a government so as to provide to conditions necessary for fair play and equity. It also employs that the state should provide equal conditions mental and material both to all alike.|
|Conduct of Foreign Affairs||This is an age of internationalism in which almost all states have different types of mutual agreements. Contracts, pacts etc, foreign affairs of every states are conducted according to its foreign policy options.|
|Economic Planning||In modern industrial age state regulates economic activities so as to ensure the protection of the interests of all classes. Within the framework of economic planning the interests of the working classes especially are given due consideration.|
|Social Security||A welfare state aims at the betterment of the society as a whole and for the realization of this goal, It provides equal opportunities to all alike. The protection of the interests of down trodden classes and of disabled persons is considered as a special responsibility of the state.|
|Transportation & communication||An efficient transportation system plays a pivotal role in economic development and in improving the tone of administration. Its strategic importance in respect of the defense of a country cannot be undermined. Frequent and easy contacts among the people made possible through the development of communication facilitates the promotion of fraternal feelings and integrative values in a society.|
|Promotion of Health & Education||Importance of education for civilized life is universally recognized. State is bound to provide educational facilities so as to indoctrinate civic virtues and inculcate political consciousness in the people. Liberal education is also coupled with the promotion of science and technology. Modern societies give due consideration to national objectives while planning for education.|
|Regulation of Trade & Industry||Two important function being performed by modern government under this category are noteworthy. Every state aims at the industrial development to improve the general economic conditions of its citizens. Home industry is given full protection through effective import policy. A modern state takes upon itself the responsibility of installation of such industrial public sector as fails to attract private investors while it is otherwise important from nation point of view.|
|Other Functions||Last but not least important are the ethical function so the state. State tries to maintain a virtuous life in the absence of which a civilized way of life is not possible. State through its laws can bring revolutionary changes in the existing values and thinking of the people. Thus, every state makes an effective use of channels of political socialization and communication to foster values in the line with the national objectives, state and its laws can play an effective role in eradication of social ills and vices.|
The above mentioned information has evidently spoofed irony of the current government’s welfare genie. Assessing position of Pakistan with the barometer stated above, it is shameful even to consider for a moment that this country could be termed welfare state where the concerned needs of the people are not being planned prioritizing them with the need and availability of each requirement. “Transportation &communication” roads and radios are one of the leading welfare objectives in states like Turkey, Europe and west, yet that cannot be said about Pakistan where the basic objectives like “Maintenance of law & order” are still a far-fetched aim. Unavailability of electricity harming “Regulation of Trade & Industry” has not been fixed despite pre-election claims and promises. “Health and Education” are ignored as does the “Administration of Justice” also recognized as one of the major faults in Pakistan’s system by Anatol Lieven does fits the last nail in the coffin of this nonexistent welfare boogeyman, let alone ethical and moral training of the people.
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