Tag Archives: accountability

State accountability – all is not that bleak

Raza Rumi

Earlier, I had written a piece on citizen accountability and Jhang model innovated by a bureaucrat – Zubair Bhatti – who ironically resigned from the civil service. I am posting a video of his talk and the article for readers here at PTH.

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Filed under Pakistan

Reforming the legislators – on the fake degrees

Raza Rumi

The debate on fake degrees has captured the middle class imagination of Pakistan’s mainstream media. True that lying and misrepresenting facts is not acceptable. Yet, discriminatory laws against the political elites are not kosher either. The debate on the issue remains sensationalist, purist and devoid of the larger context of Pakistan’s democratic history.

Each era of our existence has witnessed such campaigns. In the 1950s laws to screen out the corrupt politicians was launched with much fanfare. It was a clear tool for the unelected institutions to tame and manipulate the political class. In the 1960s such a process was institutionalized and Pakistan reeled under the ill-effects of authoritarianism leading to the break up of the country in 1971.

The establishment continued the policy throughout the 1980s and we witnessed the growth and proliferation of politicians who were absolutely wedded to the fortification of Pakistan as a national security state. In the 1990s, such games continued and we have cases from that decade which are yet to be adjudicated. The state as a whole has used these as bargaining chips. This is why the debate on NRO is complex and its moral simplification becomes a historical act in itself. Continue reading

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Filed under Judiciary, Pakistan, Politics, public policy, Society

Reform or perish -Police and Human Rights

“Police reform in South Asia is too important to neglect and too urgent to delay”, concludes a
recently published report

By Asad Jamal

“Feudal Forces: Democratic Nations — Police Accountability in Commonwealth South Asia”, is a study by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an international non-governmental organisation dedicated to ‘the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth’.

The study mainly focuses on the mechanism of accountability of police in legal frameworks in five South Asian countries of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives (Commonwealth South Asia).

Transparency, accountability and democratic participation are the three major strands that make the present day society work in an efficient and just manner. Among these three fundamental requisites, reliable processes of accountability make the police a public service in the real sense. The need to reform the police and develop strong accountability mechanisms arises in view of the public experience of policing in the Commonwealth South Asia, as the CHRI study points out: “Public experiences of policing show that police are more often characterised by violations of laws and individual rights rather than protection of them. From murders, to torture, disappearances, excessive use of force, failure to follow due process, biased policing, to corruption — the list of violations committed by the police is endless.” Continue reading

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Filed under human rights, Pakistan, state

An open letter to Mr Aitzaz Ahsan

This was published in DAWN yesterday

By Raza Rumi

THAT you are principled, charismatic and right is beyond doubt. You have inspired the cynical, intelligentsia, revived a moribund civil society and awakened Pakistan’s traditionally de-politicised middle class.

This is something that history shall record gloriously – reminiscent of the way you re-invoked the essential attributes of ‘Indus man’ in your treatise on the pre-historic identity of Pakistan.

Today, all efforts to generate ‘positive’ results from Election 2008 have foundered; and there is a new parliament ready to be sworn in. The new National Assembly, reflecting the fractured polity, has one common thread – nearly two thirds of its members constitute or sympathise with what was known as the opposition before February 2008. This is a moment of reckoning and most concrete outcome of a decade long struggle initiated by your friend Mr Nawaz Sharif, your leader the late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and your supporters in the middle class and urban democrats. The movement that followed the suspension of the Chief Justice in March 2007 was a culmination of public discontent that started way before. That you provided a shape and led it, is, your stellar contribution.

This is a historic moment that cannot be squandered or lost to the politics of personalities and individuals. Most Pakistanis are in awe of the dismissed Chief Justice for his strength of character, they have tremendous respect for the members of the bench who refused to succumb to the executive diktat following the imposition of emergency in November 2007. And above all, they are also tired of General Musharraf whose good intentions have only led to the proverbial hell of energy and food crises, rampant inflation and roaming suicide bombers. But this struggle just cannot be about getting rid of the president and reinstating the Chief Justice. That would be a belittling corollary of this fabulous episode in our recent history.

The representatives of the PPP, PML-N, ANP and bulk of like-minded independents are touching the magic number of two thirds in the new Assembly. If they are asked to settle a score with an individual and honour another few, history will not record it in kind terms.

Your call for a march towards Islamabad and the restoration of judges before Mar 9 is bound to polarise the fragile parliament, the political parties that have been beaten, poached, hounded with leaders assassinated or disqualified. It is a delicate juncture of our history and any division in the moderate political class or resort to historical bickering and blame-games will rock the system only to benefit the martial corridors of Islamabad’s Byzantine palaces and their traditional occupants.

This is why many citizens are worried and skeptical that nothing changes in the murky waters of Pakistani politics. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizens, Pakistan, Politics, public policy