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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Absence Of Genuine LeadershipAnd Good Governance In Pakistan
By Mehroz Siraj Sadruddin
25 January, 2009
The political setup that we see functioning in the country today was originally created under the shadows of the influence a dead Benazir Bhutto had started to wield upon the common man in this country.
It has been more than ten months since the February 18 elections, and nearly six months since General Musharraf tendered his resignation from the Presidency. However, over this time period, the nation has been encountering one crisis after the other.
The political turmoil since the last general elections has had a huge impact on the national economy in general, and inflation in particular. Overall inflation has touched 25 per cent and the US dollar has gone up from Rs 62 to Rs 80, a near 36 per cent increase. This has caused major economic and financial problems for the country over the last ten months.
Since assuming office in March last year, the PPP led government has indeed devoted very little time to the real issues of the people, as most of the time and resources were invested in dealing with political adversaries, Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musharraf.
The government has failed to fulfil nearly all of its election promises. The killers of Miss Benazir Bhutto are still very much at large. Zaradari has reneged on his earlier promises of restoring the 59 superior judges fired by Musharraf in November 2007. In his first address to the parliament and even since the Feb 18 elections, Mr. Zardari had been talking about removing the 17th Amendment from the constitution and repealing Article 58 2(b), which gives the president the authority to dissolve the government and the parliament. However, despite the speeches and rhetoric, there has been no legislative work being done in order to achieve these targets.
The controversial and unconstitutional National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) brought Mr Zardari back into the political realm. Since he assumed the presidency, defying all the rules for effective governance and strengthening democracy, he has balked away from giving his predecessor and members of his regime, a fair trial with regards to cases of corruption, treason and tampering with the constitution, amidst a whole host of other cases which were being heard in the superior courts before emergency rule was proclaimed in November 2007. A report in the November issue of the Herald magazine said that the total amount of bank loans sanctioned during the Musharraf-Aziz government, is more than US $10 billion Why have members of the last military-civilian regime not been tried in independent courts on the accounts of corruption, contempt of court and committing treason?
All these facts make me ask a fundamental question, where is the government and what is it doing to end the current political crisis prevailing in the country?
The government of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gillani is being widely seen as inept and corrupt and an institution where appointments are being made on the basis of cronyism, rather than genuine merits. It has been seen that Mr Zardari has erected his own group of associates from within the PPP, most of who were not close enough with the late Benazir Bhutto.
The way this government has been dealing with the menace of terrorism and religious extremism, also leaves a lot to be desired. On the orders from Washington, fresh military operations are being launched in FATA and the tribal areas as the option for diplomacy and negotiations is being further pushed to the sidelines. The government has failed to understand that it is only through negotiation, dialogue and the socio-economic emancipation of the people in FATA, that terrorism can be defeated.
Pakistan at the moment needs a strong leader who is a symbol of national unity and can champion the cause of human rights for the oppressed communities and minorities. The leadership vacuum left behind by Benazir Bhutto is still very much there. However, if the current government continues along the path that it currently seems to be treading upon, then we have every reason to believe that the problems and challenges that our country today faces, both, internal aand external, would further aggravate with the passage of time.

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