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Endless Power Games In Pakistan: Open Government Is The Way Forward

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That pride hath a fall is a universal truth. In his book Rise and Fall of Great Powers, Paul Kenndy talks about the importance of history to learn lessons. Studying history encourages us to understand the world in which we live. Power will be maintained solely by a careful balance between wealth and military expenditure. Great nations in decline nearly always hasten their ending by shifting spending from the previous to the latter. While further explaining the balance of power, Paul Kennedy maintains that the capability to sustain a conflict with a comparable state or coalition of states ultimately demands economic strength.
The example in our case is Kashmir. According to World Bank estimates, in 2019, India’s GDP (current $ terms) was $2.875 trillion while Pakistan’s was $278.22 billion. In terms of purchasing power parity, India ranks third globally with a GDP of $9.612 trillion in 2019, while Pakistan is at the 24th spot with a GDP of $1.058 trillion. No wonder why Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue at the UN has been ineffective.

The most famous theory of C. Wright Mills on ‘power elites’ said that they include government, big business, and the military, which jointly constitute a ruling class that controls society and works for its interests, not for the interests of the citizenry. On the other hand, the Principle of ‘utilitarianism’ advocates the idea of greater public good: one decision by power or authority/leadership, and maximum good for a maximum number of people. Having said that, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” the System demands distribution of power to achieve equilibrium.

The term ‘trias politica’ or ‘separation of powers’ was coined by Charles-Louis de Secondat, an 18th century French social and political philosopher. If we talk in the Pakistani context, as per the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, there are three state organs to govern the system.
1- Legislative: Law-making bodies. (Parliament: NA and Senate)
2- Executive: Law Implementing bodies. (Ministries and bureaucratic offices)

3- Judiciary: Law interpreting bodies. (Courts)

Montesquieu discerned a separation of powers among these bodies to provide them with a vital system of “checks and balances” over each other – to play the role of watchdog. Most importantly, this doctrine helps maintain law and order and ensures smooth run of democracy.

Armed forces in Pakistan come under the defense ministry of Pakistan equal to executives under other ministries. However, realities are different in practice. If we go back in history and look at martial laws – Pakistan has spent several decades under military rule (1958 – 1971, 1977 – 1988, 1999 – 2008). The reason again was the same: power imbalance.

In Pakistan importance of economic growth has been undervalued by people in authority; hence, today, Pakistan is faced with many problems such as poverty, the poor state of health, education, and transport infrastructure, insecurity, corruption, unemployment, sectarianism, terrorism, water issues, issue of good governance and political system and what not?

To become a prosperous state and thriving nation, the way forward is effective accountability and one way to implement it is Open Government Partnership (OGP): The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that directs to establish concrete commitments from national and sub-national governments to promote open government, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen good governance. Institutional instability is another factor that affects power dynamics and economic growth. Institutional unreliability is intrinsically associated with existing imbalances in the power structures. There shall be no “incompatibility” between the formal rules enshrined in the constitution and the informal norms governed by the power elites. 

Economic incentives shall reach the majority by increasing opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovations, and investments. To fix the crashing economy of Pakistan, Pakistan needs to work on heavy external and domestic indebtedness, high fiscal deficit, and low investment. Here public-private Partnerships are strongly recommended.

Similarly, audits are compulsory to provide credibility and regulate the system reasonably and lawfully. Reforms in bureaucracy will play a significant role in demolishing red tape. The rule of law shall replace abuse of power by the elected officials.

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Naya Daur