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Fixing The Root Causes Of Misgovernance

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Abdul Qayyum Kundi argues that the problem of misgovernance in Pakistan has not been resolved by successive governments because the stakeholders fail to recognise the root cause of the issue.

We all know that Pakistan is a badly-governed country but it seems we fail to recognise the root causes of it. Our diagnoses have been consistently wrong. First, we blamed it on military rulers, then on foreign wars and now corruption of politicians. I am not suggesting these are not real issues but rather that they are not the root cause. A headache maybe just because of sinus congestion and can be taken care of through an over the counter medicine or it could be because of cancer for which a different cure is needed.

Good governance rests on two pillars organisation and administration. Organisation relates to placing things in order, for example, the distribution of authority between national and provincial governments; distribution of tax collection between national, provincial or municipal jurisdiction; deciding on the bicameral legislature to balance provincial inequality, and distributing constitutional power between institutions.

Once the organisation is done then it comes to administering it. If the organisation is ill-conceived then no amount of good administration can deliver efficient governance while if an organisation is good then even a bad administration may be able to deliver some results.

Let me share some examples. Consider the example of the USA, it is a very well organized country in terms of an elected congress, tenured judiciary, empowered executive and division of jurisdiction between federation and states (provinces). Because of this good organisation, even a badly managed and chaotic administration of President Trump can provide good governance.

This does not mean that repeated bad administrations can be sustained but a good structure has the resilience to withstand unforeseen shocks. President Trump has damaged this institutional structure because of his autocratic tendencies and no respect for merit in choosing his team. The other example is the United Kingdom which has some built-in flaws in the organisational structure but has been able to deliver functioning governance because of good administration.

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Queen has played a stabilising role to contain the fallout from the flaws in the organisation. Brexit has exerted pressure on these flaws and has the potential of breaking the kingdom apart. Bottom line is that if a house is badly structured by the architect then no matter how hard tenants try to make good use of it the living standards will not be high.

Pakistan is a badly organised country since our independence and these flaws are further accentuated by bad administration. So we have a double whammy as they call it. We still don’t know how to balance the relations between our national identity and our ethnicities. We have not figured out the division of tax collection between federal, provincial and municipal.

Our local government elections have never been taken seriously. The state institutions have been infiltrated by political operatives that are more loyal to their political masters than the communities they are mandated to serve. The situation has become exponentially bad because our elected governments also lacked administrative skills for various reasons that are a separate issue to consider.

The current republic has been given sufficient time, since 1973, to prove itself but it has failed repeatedly because of the architectural issues. Change of face at PM house, national government, or new elections is not a solution because it does not address the fundamental issue that our current republic is badly built and has many fatal flaws.

Hoping to fix it through constitutional amendments is a pipe dream and further delay in replacing it can be fatal for the survival of the nation and state.

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We have already proposed a dialogue table where we can sit with all political parties to develop this new second republic. We will not accept any dialogue in which we are not on the table as the others have repeatedly failed to do the right thing and compromise for short term personal gains. We also request the oligarch and the rich to help us because we are not working against anyone rather want to ensure there is a level playing field for all citizens.
They should enjoy wealth and security in their own country rather than running around the world and feel insecure all the time. The second republic is a win-win for all.

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