Showing posts from January, 2010

Social Capital in Pakistan

Pakistan is a society that seems to have lost self confidence and self esteem. Opinion pieces are beginning to recognize that what is driving us to failure may lie deep in some intangible factor in ourselves and our society.Shafqat Mahmood writes in a column entitled, “The absence of morality” (Jan 29, 10)“We are a deeply religious people. We even have it in our Constitution that no law would be made that is not in conformity with Holy Quran and Sunnah. And we don't just leave it to a verbal commitment. The attendance in mosques for prayers and at other religious occasions is large and growing. And yet, how do we explain this moral vacuum within?Morality is a luxury in our society. Pragmatism a necessity.”Ayaz Amir writes in a column entitled “A governing class which makes one cry” (Jan 15. 2010)“Odysseus would have had to revise his understanding of patience were he to have undertaken his voyages in the salubrious climate of the Islamic Republic. Adversity and facing up to it ar…

Those Filthy, Non-Transparent perks

My email has been inundated with messages that contain the following.
"Govt. Concessions for a Member of NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (MNA)
Ø Monthly Salary : Rs. 120,000 to 200,000
Ø Expense for Constitution per month : Rs.100,000

Ø Office expenditure per month : Rs.140,000
Ø Traveling concession (Rs. 8 per km) : Rs.48,000 (For a visit to ISLAMABAD & return): 6000 km
Ø Daily BETA during Assembly meets : Rs.500
Ø Charge for 1st class (A/C) in train : Free (For any number of times all over PAKISTAN )
Ø Charge for Business Class in flights: Free for 40 trips / year (With wife or P.A.)
Ø Rent for Govt.. hostel any where: Free
Ø Electricity costs at home : Free up to 50,000 units
Ø Local phone call charge : Free up to 1,70,000 calls
Ø TOTAL expense for a MNA per year : Rs. 32,000,000
Ø TOTAL expense for 5 years : Rs. 1,60,000,000
Ø For 534 MNA, the expense for 5 years :
Rs. 85 , 4…

Beggars vs Doers: What Aid dependence does!

The Nation noted the following plea from the Pakistan government today
“Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said Pakistan though facing several challenges offers vast opportunities of investment, which should be highlighted before the world. Talking to media during the Friends of Democratic Pakistan moot in Dubai, Pakistan foreign minister said the conference has been organized to attract the corporate sector towards investment in Pakistan.”
This plea needs some footnotes1.Note the conference is being held in Dubai because Pakistan is considered too dangerous for investors to go to. 2.Interpret the plea as we will do nothing for ourselves. We will not change our lifestyle; let the foreign investor bring in money so that our bad habits can continue. 3.This charade has been played out by all our governments from Ayub to now.4.This is the year 2010, and our government continues to use tools from the 1960s: donor conferences, friends of PakistanMeanwhile the fishing village Dubai th…

Abolish perks, they are costly

For about 20 years I have been arguing that the path to true reform in Pakistan will open up with the abolition of perks. The reason being that the current incentive system for government officials is perverse where perks are valued higher than performance. Moreover perks are wasteful. Today Daily Times carried the following information on the waste associated with perks proving my point. "GOR I, II + III, IV, V, VI equals Rs 150m in home improvement* GOR III, IV, V, VI file applications for work likely to cost Rs 51.4 million

By Anwer Hussain Sumra

LAHORE: The Punjab government has been sent 127 requests by officers who are residents of Government Officers’ Residence (GOR) III, IV, V and VI for renovation, alteration and repair – work that is likely to cost Rs 51.4 million – at their official residences, according to sources.

The requests were sent following the lead of GOR I and II residents – who have filed applications for work that is likely to cost Rs 98 million. Judicial off…

Constitutional reforms for better democracy

In Pakistan with or without elections, the status quo of rent-seeking elite through degenerated colonial institutions continues.

Soon after any change whether elected or through a coup, our leaders begin power plays, VIP pleasures, and of course amassing personal fortunes.
It seems to me that democracy needs to be strengthened. And this can be done through a better design of a constitution.

Democracy is obtained though a system that balances and distributes power so that the community at every level controls lawmaking and the administration, execution and adjudication of laws.

Surprisingly dysfunctional governance has not produced an informed body of knowledge on constitutional reforms. By default the army and the politicians are left to think up constitutional amendments. Both of whom are neither equipped to think nor are their incentives aligned with increased democracy. And we have seen the mess they have made of the constitution.

Perhaps, it is time civil society carefully looked at th…