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Political outlook 1990.

The dawn of 1990 saw the induction of the new Chief Justice Mr. Afzal Zullah who replaced Justice Haleem. Separation of the judiciary from the executive is on top of the agenda for 1990. This is finally be achieved during this year after a long wait of 42 years. It will be recalled that the 1973 Constitution laid down in Article 175(3) that the Judiciary shall be separated progressively from the Executive within fourteen years from the commencing day. This constitutional provision should have guaranteed the bifurcation of the executive and the judiciary by 1987. Unfortunately that did not happen and subsequently in 1985, the period was arbitrarily extended under the Revival of Constitution Order to 1990.

The bureaucracy has delayed this matter for so long. The inaction resulted in the ever increasing backlog of pending cases, precluding the dispensation of quick justice denying relief to victims of misery and deprivation. At present there is growing awareness of the problem and the genuine desire to do away with this obstacle. Moreover, there is constitutional obligation of separating the judiciary from the executive by 1990.

The PPP has planned to table several bills in this year. The draft of the bill for bonded labour is ready and will be tabled in the National Assembly in the first quarter of this year. Similarly, a law will also be enacted to do away with the curse of child labour.

The state of the children in Pakistan is depressing. According to UNICEF's state of the World Children Report 1990, nearly 166 out of 1000 under-five's in Pakistan die and the majority of those who survive have a hard struggle before them. Nearly 42 per cent of the 2-5 year olds suffer from stunted growth because of malnutrition and only 40 per cent of the children in the 5-9 year age group get to be enrolled in schools. This is due to the fact that only one per cent of the Federal Government expenditure is allocated to health, three per cent to education and thirty per cent to defence. There is likely to be reordering of priorities in economic and social planning as far as children are concerned. More so, the Prime Minister has agreed to be cochairperson of the summit for children. It is likely that the child health may get a much larger share of the health facilities. Primary schools should figure on top of the education list.

The Government will announce a new Labor Policy, keeping in view the PPP manifesto, ILO conventions and in consultations with the representatives of the workers and employers. According to Minister for State Mr. Akber Lasi the working of the Review Board for Reinstatement of workers will be streamlined. It has also been announced that the National Institute of Labour Administration Training will be upgraded to the level of an academy. New centres for the Workers Education Directorate will be opened at Multan, Gujranwala, Lahore, Sukkur, Karachi and Haripur. The application of the Employees Old Age Benefits Scheme will be extended to smaller establishments. As many as 8,000 houses will be constructed under Workers Welfare Fund. Vigorous implementation of labour laws will be ensured. The application of Provincial Social Security Scheme will be extended to smaller establishments.

The Government has plans to build maximum houses for the government servants and the shelterless all over the country. As many as 7,500 houses will be constructed in Karachi, 1,000 in Lahore, 5,000 in Islamabad and 500 each in Peshawar and Quetta during 1990 for the government employees. These will be alloetted to them on "ownership basis". About 500 houses will be built in every national assembly constituency under the People's Programme for the shelterless. These will be allotted on the recommendations of the MNAs of the respective areas. A large number of houses to be built from the proceeds of Zakat and Ushr are apart from these. The Government has approached foreign investors to provide funds for housing schemes. Some of them have agreed. The work on these schemes will start during the year 1990.

The opposition has failed to oust Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto through constitutional means. It has now come in the open to launch a mass movement but its very first meeting at Islamabad on December 15, was a poor show. The meeting was however boycotted by four COP component parties Jamiat Ulemai Islam (Fazlur - Rahman Group) Jamiat Ulemai Pakistan, Jamat-e-Islami (JI) and Awami National Party. Muhammad Khan Junejo also did not turn up. The crowd estimated by a correspondent was of 40,000. Thus, the effort of the COP to mobilize street power through mass rallies to overthrow Benazir is proving a failure. The Rawalpindi rally was Nawaz Sharif rally. The COP leaders are believed to have taken serious objection to the way the IJI chief was portrayed in the posters. The rally, according to the political observers had widened the COP differences and ultimately the alliance may tear apart.

A big rally was organised by the opposition on January 26 in Karachi. It was simply aimed to oust Benazir. The most hostile speech was of Nawaz Sharif which reflected his personal bias against Bhutto family. Akbar Bugti, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and Qazi Hussain Ahmed did not attend the meeting. Several resolutions were passed in the meeting. These were not of specific nature and can be applied on any government at any time.

The meeting refreshes the memory of PNA which combined to oust Bhutto in 1977. And then placing a general at the helm of affairs it vanished like a bubble. In any case the opposition once again will try to table a no-confidence motion before March 1990 in the national assembly. It is believed that this move may not be successful. A patch-up is foreseen between the JUI and PPP. PPP has reportedly agreed to support the Shariat Bill likely to be presented by the JUI in the National Assembly. On the request of PPP, JUI is negotiating with other religious groups to present a non-controversial bill. Thus, JUI is showing signs to stay away from COP.

It is very difficult to predict conditions in Sindh. Throughout the year it remained in the grip of tension. Snipers killing has become a regular feature. At least 24 persons were killed in the recent spate of violence. There are cases of abduction and dacoities throughout Sindh. The industrial production is going down due to unsettled conditions.

Operation clean-up has become a bone of contention between the PPP and MQM. The Government version is that it is yielding positive results. The provincial government in Sindh has started the operation clean-up drive on an effective and positive note and so far recovered a large quantity of arms. MQM on the other hand has alleged that the Government was victimising its workers in the name of operation clean-up.

Political observers feel that the PPP wishes to keep Sindh disturbed. The logic behind this assumption being that any attempt to dislodge PPP at Centre would ignite a situation in its home province. However, as held, this is a two-edged weapon. The PPP loses credibility when seen as failing to manage smoothly the one province in which it has an overwhelming majority. In the articulate, polyglot urban centres that constitute the industrial and economic hub of the country, failure to control trouble has costly national implications which cannot be sustained indefinitely. There is another lobby which maintains that the late General Zia fostered Sindhi and Muhajir extremes so as to create difficulties for the PPP. This lobby sees a natural extension of his policy in the Beirut-Karachi-Hong Kong syndrome. But that is another double-edged weapon. A Karachi that was not officially Sindh would mean a different Sindh, but Karachi, unlike Hong-Kong is no Island. Even if it were its adjacent mainland would not be complaisant.

EDUCATION POLICY: The new education policy is in the offing. It will be technical and professional oriented policy. Technical and professional institutions will impart training in subject like business, agriculture etc. It is likely to include some new subjects such as Environmental Studies, Health and Nutrition, Population Studies and drug abuse awareness. No new college will be opened with no possibility of a separate university for women. There will be less stress on ideological content in the curriculum and do among with distortions in history. Islamiat will not be a pre-requisite for admission in professional institutions. Monopoly of textbook boards is likely to be broken. Textbook writing is to be decided in open competition. It has been recommended to train teachers on lines of foreign service to enhance the status of teachers. Academic year is to start in September and end in June with summer vacation coming at the end of the year. However, this is left at the description of provincial government whether to make a change in this respect or not.

CENTRE-PUNJAB TUSSLE: It is difficult to predict when the ever growing conflict between the Punjab and Federal Government will end. At present there is a state of confrontation on issue after issue, the People's Programme for Development, transfers of officials, the Wuller Barrage, relations with India, the distribution of fertilizers and host of several issues. Nawab Akbar Bugti, Balochistan Chief Minister also chose to align himself with Mr. Nawaz Sharif. The two chief ministers have been insisting on a meeting of Council of Common Interests (CCI) to resolve the current impasse between their two provinces and the centre. It is however felt that this is not a demand motivated purely out of administrative considerations but is part of the political pressure mounted by the two on the Benazir Government.

Robert Kimmett, U.S. Under Secretary was in Pakistan to discuss recent changes in the Afghan Policy. This was in the light of the fact that the automatic fall of the Najib Government that was gleefully predicted in many quarters failed to take place and in fact the Kabul forces successfully beat back a concerted rebel attack on Jalalabad. Several peace overtures by Kabul were summarily rejected but towords the end of the year there were persistent reports that a section within the U.S. Administration was veering round to the idea of a political settlement that included the PDPA. The divisions within rebel ranks, with open bloodshed and clashes between some groups, constituted a serious impediment in the way of any negotiations. Pakistan will have to do a serious rethinking on its Afghan policy because the present policy that supports Afghan's rebel demand for the fall of the Najib Government and the total sidelining for any peace negotiations left the Afghan situation in a stalemate. Europe is undergoing a drastic change and US and USSR are coming closer. Accordingly, US is not in a mood to continue the same policy in regard to Afghanistan which was pursued so far.
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Title Annotation:Pakistan
Author:Haidari, Iqbal
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Jan 1, 1990
Next Article:Karachi transport problem.

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