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    tide is turning

    is the honemoon over for the military regime
    in pakistan. broadbased opposition is
    forming against unrepresetative goverment.
    continuation of military rule and ineffective moderate forces only leads
    to extremists filling the vacum.


    The tide is turning

    Shafqat Mahmood

    Slowly but surely the tide of public opinion is firmly turning against the government. The countrywide strike by the lawyer's community is the first overt but significant indication of this trend. There are other less visible signs. The business community, the bureaucracy, the farmers, the labour unions, the urban intelligentsia, the student community and many more, have quietly begun to speak up. Their voices are soft but if you listen carefully the message comes through loud and clear. They are unhappy with the present and unsure about the future. Sometimes there are cries of anguish and pain. Many times there is nothing but ridicule for the regime and its functionaries.

    The sad part as always is that sins of a few are visited upon the many. This is neither new nor unique to us. Throughout history, the ordinary people have paid for the sins of their leaders, the foot soldiers for the mistakes of their commanders. This last part is particularly true in the case of our armed forces. The ordinary soldier and an overwhelming majority of the officers fought tenaciously and courageously in East Pakistan. Yet the sins of Yahya and Niazi became a millstone around the entire army's neck. Zia and his coterie were up to no good in their selfish interest yet the army had to bear the burden of their shenanigans. It would be unfair to compare the Musharraf regime with either Yahya or Zia.

    Yahya's brain had clearly been addled by alcohol and his lax leadership created a less than responsible atmosphere in the upper ranks of the army. Zia was the ultimate manipulator and now we know he and some of his top generals made a great deal of money on the side. He was also ruthless and brooked no dissent. Obviously none of the these traits apply to the current dispensation. The Musharraf regime is not corrupt and that is saying a lot in our environment. It has also shown a remarkable capacity to tolerate dissent. Particularly the freedom that the press enjoys must be unheard of in any military regime. All this is to the credit of the regime and must be acknowledged. It also means well and wants to do the best for Pakistan.

    Sincerity is not a virtue that should be ignored in the rulers. But that is where the positive side of the ledger ends and the litany of its mistakes begins. Whether General Musharraf and his colleagues were unprepared to take over or not can only be revealed by them. We do not know. What is clear though is that they had little clue about running the country on October 12,1999. Some sort of split personality was visible right at the outset. They had taken over by force but yet wanted to hide the military behind a thin civilian facade. Hence, their reluctance to impose martial law and to put in place the old tried and tested system of Martial Law administrators as heads of the civil administration. They found the device of a provisional constitutional order (PCO) which they thought would provide them a cover.

    Unfortunately for them it fooled no one. The West, for whose benefit all this was being done, still saw them for what they were -- a military autocracy that had overthrown a democratic government. It also created functional problems. Some venerable old gentlemen, much long in the tooth, were fished out and appointed governors. They were supposed to run the civil administration and like a Houdini trick not supposed to run it. The lines of authority between the Governor and the Corps Headquarters were never clearly defined with the result that it often lead to paralysis. Particularly in the Punjab the problem has been acute because there are six corps headquarters in the province and each one is an independent entity. The Lahore Corps is supposed to co-ordinate with the provincial government and the other corps, but without clear lines of authority and responsibility is seldom able to do so adequately. The result is that even the simplest of decisions can take months.

    This duality of command also impacts the day to day running of the civil administration. It is answerable to the governor who is their legal head but also has to bow to the corps headquarters that, in a manner of speaking, is their functional head. It has required all the deftness of a Machiavelli on the part of the civil officers to keep both the sides happy. This arrangement is not conducive to efficient administration. Often contradictory orders are received and the administrator does not know what to do. If he gets close to the military, the Governor starts to complain and vice versa. Never in living memory has the administration of the country been so paralysed as it is today.

    To further compound the problem a new system of monitoring was set up. In the earlier martial laws, a divisional commander became the Deputy Martial Law Administrator and an effective head of the divisional administration. Other military officers were not involved as a DMLA dealt directly with the civil administration. For better or worse a sort of team spirit evolved between the military head and the civil administration. Not any more. The civil administration and the military monitors are at loggerheads with each other. The monitoring system is a uniquely flawed arrangement. Different army units have been made monitors of civilian departments about whose working they have no clue. With the best of intentions and sincerity, and I have no doubt that generally speaking there is no lack of sincerity, the army officers are in no position to tell the civilians how to do their jobs.

    By training and discipline, the military mind is a straight and simple mind. Civil administration is complex and quite often like a maze. Public administration and public policy are disciplines learnt through long years of experience and may be through a Master's degree or two from a reputed university abroad. A young major or a colonel has no experience, no training and no education to advise and direct the civil administration. Yet this is what they are trying to do. The result is again bitterness and bad blood between the civil administration and the military. At least in my life time I have not seen a military regime so disliked by the civilian bureaucracy as this one is. This is unfortunate in the sense that General Musharraf and his colleagues, so far, are a far better people as military regimes go than Yahya and Zia ever were.

    When the basic structure of administration in a country becomes so flawed then every strategy, every policy, and every decision has the propensity to get stuck in the mud. Everyone says about General Musharraf that he is sincere and means well, then why is it that we are not getting anywhere? I would venture to suggest that at least one major reason is the flawed administrative structure that they have put in place. Even now if the monitoring system is confined to only checking complaints of corruption or things like attendance etc, the system may work in the remaining time that the government has for itself.

    I have spent sometime discussing the administrative arrangement put in place because it is a core reason for lack of performance by the government. Of course, this is not the only reason. Its political analysis has been amateurish, its accountability system, until Lt Gen Khalid Maqbool took charge, lackluster. Its economic policy can only be characterised as conservative plodding. Its foreign policy is hamstrung by its very definition, that is, because it is a military regime the foreign powers tend to view it in a certain way. In other words, its military identity is a serious drawback in international relations. Even its much-touted devolution plan is likely to be exposed as unworkable.

    These issues will figure prominently in the second part of this article that will continue to analyse why the tide of public opinion is now so solidly against the government. For the moment let us remember that a non-democratic regime can only get legitimacy of sorts through performance. The performance of the Musharraf government has been poor. One of the reasons for this is the flawed administrative arrangement put in place.

    The author is former Senator, former federal and provincial minister



    #2
    >>The author is former Senator, former federal and provincial minister


    If it wasn't for the greed of civilian politicians like the one writing this piece, there would have been no need for the military to step in. The fact is, deomcratic governments are the biggest culprits in Pakistan. their loot-grabbing mentality has put a severe dent in the image of democracy for many Pakistanis.

    This Shafqat Mahmood seems to be looking at the situation with blinkers on as he has listed the failings of all the military dictatorships but has kept strangely silent on Essex landowner Benazir and Pakistani mill-king Nawaz Sharif. Both of whom have siphoned the national exchequer in order to provide themselves with fat retirement funds for themselves and their family.

    Comment


      #3
      Xtreme Shafqat Mahmood is none other than a SUSPENDED SENATOR from Benazir's PPP. In fact he was a minister in her last government.

      What wonderful biased and bitter sources rvikz comes up with?

      Comment


        #4
        There you are then. I didn't even know who he was, but it was easy enough to nail him just throuhgh his one-eyed analysis.

        rvikz, please be careful about the stuff you paste here as it makes you look like a desperate fool anxious to post anything negative about Pakistan, even if it comes from those who stained democracy almost beyond repair in our country.

        Comment


          #5
          so you say all politicians are corrupt and military people are from separate gene pool
          only military knows best.
          people are incpable of electing and sustaining a civilian goverment.
          crruption will be eliminated and economy will recover and all the sectarian clashes will stop if miltary rule extednted for another 50 years?

          Comment


            #6
            and what if the public opinion goes against musharraf? is musharraf there because public wanted him to? he is there with power of gun and will be there till guns do not turn against him, public opinion notwithstanding.

            Comment


              #7
              read what i wrote properly rvikz.

              I'll post it again because there's no need to keep repeating myself:

              =============================================


              If it wasn't for the greed of civilian politicians like the one writing this piece, there would have been no need for the military to step in. The fact is, deomcratic governments are the biggest culprits in Pakistan. their loot-grabbing mentality has put a severe dent in the image of democracy for many Pakistanis.

              This Shafqat Mahmood seems to be looking at the situation with blinkers on as he has listed the failings of all the military dictatorships but has kept strangely silent on Essex landowner Benazir and Pakistani mill-king Nawaz Sharif. Both of whom have siphoned the national exchequer in order to provide themselves with fat retirement funds for themselves and their family.

              Comment

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