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Economic and political disillusionment.

The political game of hide and seek is confounding the dilemna of the newly emerged democracy. The critics have gone to the extent of mentioning that some of the policy makers are moralists without morality.

There are many who assert that the dilemna of dwindling political authority reflects at bottom a crisis of substantive moral purpose. They have urged the people to find a new vision of a better national order.

Since the beginning of 1991, the citizens have sought to revitalize democratic reform politics in Pakistan. This seeking is frustrated by the current maladies emanating from the failure of policy makers to address the problems of recent economic decline which greatly concern the majority of people. The rulers are stated to have adopted tactics that lead away from their professed values of participatory democracy, and have remained ambivalent about the legitimacy of the increased governmental role that they advocate.

Under the present political setting people have witnessed the breakdown of established patterns without the emergence of viable new ones. The consequences in loss of shared principle and purpose, in social and individual distress, and in sheer disorder are apparent to all. Whether a matter of official corruption or despotism or a deeply rooted structural malady, the citizens are well aware that the decline of confidence in the norms of democracy has become a significant problem in current affairs. The unaccountable structure of power within both state and society, politics and economy is undermining public faith in political institutions. Distrust and cynicism are running deep and are centering on the non-performance of pre-election promises. Double standards in every phase of political decision making are evident. Decay has set in and the moral foundations of civic trust are eroding. The ethical reserve of faith in collective public action is getting polluted. The critics have implied further that exposure to official hypocrisy and malfeasance is under-cutting citizens belief that regulatory government action can ever effect positive change. They are afraid lest the masses get disillusioned by civic pessimism and apathy about the possibilities of effective government. Citizens at every level and in every walk of life increasingly feel that they are rendered powerless by the politics of deception. The Islamic conceptions of truth and righteousness are not being adhered to. Even worse, some critics hint, such feelings of powerlessness in the present "crisis of crises" may erupt into eventual violence and chaos. The society seems to be on the verge of dissolving into the malaise of Thuodides' factionalized Corcyra. Everywhere there is protest to accept the solutions handed down by some members of federal bureaucracy. The pessimistic scenario of declining legitimacy of the present setting is hardly unique. The decision making processes are less effective because the establishment Division seems to be engaged in the process of the massacre of national talent and all viewpoints are not permitted the opportunity for full airing and critical scrutiny. The relationship of rulers to citizens is not one of mutuality, identification and co-performance. Neither the rulers find themselves in the followers nor the followers find themselves in the rulers. The rulers do not seem to be willing to mobilize the diverse wisdom, expertise, and values of the entire community for collective policy making. So far, the present governmental administration has not rebuilt confidence and conviction concerning the aims and future of Pakistan society. Unless the government can recapture a belief in the societal values and in the possibility of making these values live in action, its days are numbered.

Authority is not defined now by faculty of gaining another man's assent. In fact, authority ends where voluntary assent ends. It is unfortunate that citizens are not properly informed about and involved in the ongoing construction of the national polity itself. Citizens' mandate in elections does not mean simple acquiescence, rather it is important to debate and decide what government's different roles ought to be. Only when citizens regularly contribute to political decision making will they truly be able to render their consent and dissent effectively. It need be ascertained whether or not the polls held in 1990 reflect the citizens' trust of the political authorities and institutions and whether or not they have had bearing on the ability of the elected government to manage the country's conflicts and concerns.

The causes of these trends are many and complex. They surely include the outcome of current maladies related directly to national issues such as distrust of higher qualifications and merit, surrender of political decision making and authority to bureaucrats. rural and urban unrest, ever increasing inflation and highly distressing unemployment, continuing ban on recruitment, unrealistic foreign policy, appeal to abstract slogans of self-reliance and to abstract emotionally-charged religious concepts, politics of bureaucratic excesses, untimely emphasis on privatisation, growing dangers of war with India, consumer exploitation, widespread prevalence of hypocrisy and double standards, large scale retrenchment of members of public service, and a general failure of elected authorities to make good on their pre-election promises to achieve natural and social justice. Another major cause of dissatisfaction emerges from the continuing deterioration of economic health and political economy for which the concerned Ministries are primarily responsible. So far, no significant effort has been made to open up government to render it more responsive and accountable to the public it is supposed to serve. The government has not been exposed to challenges for making use of governmental authority wisely, justly, and effectively.

Policy choices do not address adequately to the actual social problems and injustices at stake. Establishment Division have made adherence to irrational and unreasonable rules an end in itself rather than a resource for securing fair results. Moreover, unscientific and out-dated rule following suspends serious debate on the malfunctioning of public administration, nurtures hatred among employees, and exacerbates the sense of unreasonableness in governmental administration. Rigid insistence on conformity to inflexible and meaningless rules and regulations left behind as a legacy by the colonial rulers, backed by threats of litigation, breeds distrust and an attitude that "I won't do anything more than I am absolutely required to do". Some researches have identified a large pattern of regulatory "unreasonableness" in policy formulation by rule-bound officials. Although the scope of the problem is yet to be determined, it is likely that in a very large number of cases regulatory toughness creates resentment and resistance, undermines attitudes and information sharing practices, and diverts energies of adversaries into pointless diesperating bureaucratic routines and conflicts. The cost of such rule fetishism is reducing confidence and trust of the people in governmental authority.

The fundamental inequalities and deprivations engerdered by the present bureaucracy-dominated rule is bringing "THE PRINCE" into disrepute. The political game of hide and seek is confounding the dilemna of the newly emerged democracy. The critics have gone to the extent of mentioning that some of the policy makers are moralists without morality. There are many who assert that the dilemna of dwindling political authority reflects at bottom a crisis of substantive moral purpose. They have urged the people to find a new vision of a better national order.

Despite and lofty aspirations that are made known to the journalists and correspondents in press conferences the pragmatic posture of some executives remains quite ambiguous. For one thing, their piecemeal, problem solving political tactics mirror a narrowly special interest-based process-oriented blurred political vision. The endless circularity of their appearance before the press has rendered their efforts consistently unconvincing. Unable to transcend the same subjectivist propensities that they allege in the opposition, their attempt to bridge the gap between personal interest and the collective good flounders in confusion. It also saps the ideal of "public interest of its general substantive content. This explains in part the apparent contradiction between charges, needing thorough probe, that some of the higher ups are concurrently "libertarian" and "authoritarian", "selfish" and "moralistic", "nihilistic" and "zealously religious", as well as "amora" and "ideological." With the attitudinal dispositions such as these, the opponents of Benazir Bhutto, being suspicious of people's claim for the restoration of genuine democracy and motivated by concerns for interests over ideas, appear to be ardent moralists without a pure morality. They appear to lack a comprehensive vision of the public good. In particular, they have yet to demonstrate a substantive commitment to a common core of ecologically inspired quality-of-life ethics. They are being criticized for transforming the values of Pakistan society from people to profits and from health to wealth. Their distate for people's democracy seems to have trapped them in a pattern of defensiveness, moral confusion, and dwindling powers of social transformation. They are said to have been caught in the web of contradictions they are seeking to breaks.

The present government is finding unity much more difficult to sustain in the future. The advocates of Benazir's opposition remain almost divided in substantive belief and fragmented in organizations. The fault lines of dissension remain great on key policy issues and social identity. These groups tend to be represented mostly by big feudal lords and factory owners. They appear to be fiercely jealous of their own autonomy in relation to PPP followers. These maladies reflect much about the ubiquitous despotic forms and psychic apprehensions that dominate Pakistan in the current phase. It seems that most Pakistanis still want what they have always wanted. I mean prosperity, peace, and security which the Nawaz Sharif Government has not so far provided. The present rulers have not addressed these issues in ways that can effectively compete with their rivals in the future.
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Title Annotation:Pakistani political turmoil
Author:Haider, S.M.
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Previous Article:Uncertainty syndrome.
Next Article:Economy in perspective.

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