Our Announcements

Not Found

Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn't here.

Posts Tagged Parliament

Elected Representatives Set Aside the Public Mandate – Amb. Sajjad Shaukat

Elected Representatives Set Aside the Public Mandate

Sajjad Shaukat

 

 

 

 

Although democracy has displayed its success in the west, yet it has proved to be fruitless in Pakistan. Therefore, it is generally said that “any instrument can be misused.”

 

Pakistan’s politicians have always claimed that they nourish democratic ideals, but, we could not establish this system on a strong footing due to irresponsible approach of our political entities. Hence, democracy remains weak, working in uncertainty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Political thinkers opine that politics is the process through which communities pursue collective goals and resolve communal issues leading to disagreement and socio-political conflicts. Civilized societies premeditate for their preferred governmental system, endorsing ideological foundations of nation.

 

No doubt, Pakistan’s favourite system of governance is democratic system as against the rigid schemes of authoritarian rule. By using their legitimate right of vote, people of Pakistan participate in political process of elections, and elect their own representatives to govern them. Thus, they give mandate by authorizing the elected members to hold public offices and make legitimate decisions to run the affairs of state. And, the elected representatives remain accountable for their actions, while, the system of electoral democracy also empowers the voters to take away the powers of the elected members, if they fall short of popular aspirations— grossly violate public mandate or fundamental ideology.

 

Regrettably, voters, after having elected their representatives, virtually become subjects of powerful elite who tend to shatter all hopes of voters by neglecting their social problems, financial difficulties and psychological distress. Promises made during election campaign are quickly forgotten, while perks of public offices are fully enjoyed. Irony of the fate is that same elite group gets elected over and over again and election campaigns are held as rituals. Unfortunately, voters, due to their extreme poverty and poignant standing lack social influence and political power, becoming trading pawns in the hands of politicians who regard elections as windows of business opening to plunder national wealth through all possible means.

 

Most of the elected representatives in National Assembly and Senate hardly make any worthwhile contribution, as they remain absent during active sessions of the Parliament. Therefore, sessions of the lower and upper houses are adjourned due to lack of quorum, and the process of essentially required legislation remains blank and weary. Resultantly, the voters’ aspirations turn into hopeless ordeal, dejection and despondency.

 

Elected Representatives Set Aside the Public MandateIt is mentionable that various malpractices such as horse-trading, nepotism, bribery, illegal obligations and other forms of corruption are very common among our politicians. In fact, the elite group of elected members uses powers of their public offices to advance their personal interests including engagement in politics of THANA and KUTCHERY (Police and Court), earnestly seeking allotment of development and discretion funds and timely steps of sycophancy to please the top party leaders. Poor educational background makes them inactive and soundless during debate sessions to approve or reject key issues requiring parliamentary endorsement. They also remain oblivious of world politics and philosophical aspirations of great leaders like Nelson Mandela. Thus, they promote their personal interests, and show total callousness towards torment of their voters.  

 

In order to divert the attention of general masses from real problems, elected politicians and opposition leaders always raise allegations and counter-allegations against each other, while manipulating various issues. In these terms, without grasping realities, our politicians have exploited every issue like the Memogate case, Mehrangate verdict, NRO scandal, missing persons’ case and issue of dialogue or military operation against the Taliban, not only to disrepute country’s key security intuitions, but also against each other so as to misguide the common men to increase their voting lists.

 

Particularly, on our media, most of the TV channels conduct controversial debate between politicians and commentators by exploiting every issue without bothering for the integrity of the country.

 

Fragile democracy in Pakistan is also due to some other factors. In this respect, a blind dedication to ones own race, tribe, creed and community creates hatred in one group against the other, which ends in violence. Regional and provincial political leaders also manipulate these disparities which have hindered the smooth working of democracy.

 

Concentration of wealth in few hands has created a privileged class of landowners and industrialists who contest elections winning the same against each other again and again. By dominating the political parties, they have dominated the politics of the country and have always sacrificed national interests for their personal gains. During the election campaign, they employ all means, fair or foul to defeat their opponents and capture political power. They mislead the general masses through, false propaganda and exaggerated speeches.

 

It is our misfortune that our political parties have worked on undemocratic principles like hostility for the sake of hostility, formation of alliances and counter-alliances to win the elections. Much time is wasted in retaliation against the previous government instead of fulfilling the promises, made with the voters during election campaign. So, they forget the real aim of public mandate by resolving the economic and social problems of the masses. In this regard, they also misguide the general masses by forming extreme opinion among them towards their opponents. Therefore, people who support these political leaders as a symbol of success of their favourite parties, feel pleasure at the failure of their rival parties. Past experience displays that very soon an alliance of different parties is formed to launch a mass movement to topple the government, which ultimately leads to military rule in the country.

 

At this critical juncture, Pakistan is facing multi-faceted crises such as soaring prices, energy-shortage, unemployment, crimes, lack of health facilities etc. Besides, the country has perennially been facing subversive activities in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi where country’s security forces and law-enforcing agencies are coping with the militants. In this context, our politicians and media analysts opine as to what the people want, but conceal as to what people actually need?

It is the right hour that by taking cognizance of the multiple crises of Pakistan, our Parliamentarians must think that they have an obligation to seriously engage in the process of legislation and must make efforts to resolve the problems faced by general public or voters. To fulfil such a pledge, they need to improve educational background and advance political philosophy by following the models of leaders like Nelson Mandela.

 

They must know that the process of legislation and public mandate is a sacred cause, which entails development of ethical dogma to work tirelessly in order to bring goodness to people whom the elected members represent. 

 

Our elected members must make themselves as law-abiding citizens and must realize that they are legally accountable for their actions. They have been empowered by the voters; hence, they need to fulfil voters’ aspirations and promises, made during the election campaign.

 

images-30Pakistan’s elected political leaders must be aware that real aim of the democratic system is to improve the system of governance, as in the system, significance of people is considered foremost priority. If elected representatives fail to attend the parliament sessions, they cannot contribute in bringing goodness to people and ultimately the system will get further corrupted, resulting into further poor governance. For the purpose, collective sense of responsibility must be developed by all elected members of the National Assembly and the Senate. A system of monitoring performance of all parliamentarians must be evolved to enable the voters to see the reality. Media must suggest that more public be invited to attend the live sessions of the Parliament, and online recordings be placed on the website. 

 

As Pakistani Parliamentarians who are seriously engaged in revered task of legislation and petty temptations, must avoid the same for fear damaging their image.  

 

Especially, corruption must be treated as the dangerous enemy and good models provided by good leaders be followed.  In this connection, Indian AAM AADMI KI PARTY (Common Man’s Party) and their anti-corruption movement is a case in point.

 

While, Pakistani voters have never failed the political leaders, now it is time for the members of the National Assembly and the Senate to reciprocate, and allow devolution of power to take place, empowering the people to arrange self-governance. This entails holding of Local Bodies elections at priority. Besides, Parliamentarians must concentrate on legislation, while delegating the power to local representatives.   

 

Returning to our main discussion, the elected representatives who set aside the public mandate through shrewd politics and use the same for their personal interests must abandon this mal-practice.

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

, ,

No Comments

Our national disgrace

When a most foolish prime minister after committing an avoidable blunder handed over on a gilded platter this country to his army chief in October 1999, there was, to put it mildly, from a nation imbued with democratic principles, a strange outpouring of widespread joy. The love of and desire for democracy was shelved.

Gen Pervez Musharraf inherited a country that was broke, and that was regarded as an international pariah due to its nuclear ambitions. Initially he did not do a bad job of running it, with a cabinet of 12 citizens, and his popularity ranking by and large was favourable. We chugged along, with no help from the outer world, with no internal upheavals. Then came 2001 and 9/11, and Musharraf was established as one of the world`s most sought after leaders. Pakistan`s geographical location and his wink-of-an-eye decision had seen to it.

Then he got carried away, it all went to his head, by April 2002 he had `lost it`. His referendum was the beginning of his end. He then further `lost it` by picking out the worst possible political actors on the national stage with whom to form a political party and run away with the elections he was bound, by the Supreme Court, to hold at the end of that year. His choice of manpower on the political side could not have been worse (well, yes, judging by what we have today, perhaps it amazingly could have been).

To form his new assemblies some bright spark advised him to decree that all those standing for election must be graduates. Utterly ridiculous, and against all democratic norms, because not only did it shut out the larger majority of the nation from offering themselves to the electorate but it opened wide the door to corruption (which until then had been held within reasonable bounds).

Musharraf knew his country-kin, he knew their propensity for corruption and he must have known that a large number of those he sought to install in his parliament would conjure up bogus degrees — which of course they did with his encouragement. He was not ignorant as to how entrenched was corruption. At the end of 1999, in an interview with the BBC, when asked how corruption in the armed forces compared with that of the political classes — Mickey (Kamran) Shafi will like this one — he responded, curtly and aptly “We are all of the same stock.”

So, no one knew, or even cared, at that time how many bogus degrees had been produced before the Election Commission, and exactly how many cheats and crooks entered parliament — though we did have a fair idea from the calibre of those that sat there.

The graduate requirement was operable for the 2008 elections and so more bogus degrees were cooked up by the new lot of aspiring legislators. We now know much more. On orders passed by the Supreme Court, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has reportedly sent off the degree certificates produced by 934 parliamentarians for verification (the total number of these leech-like beings is 1,170). Apparently 161 certificates were illegible — what does that tell us as to their validity?

It seems that a dozen or so cheats and crooks have already been disqualified by our courts and over 50 cases are pending. The most famous legislator allegedly with a bogus degree is the man in charge of the law ministry who claims to hold a doctorate from a university that sounds like an Italian ice cream factory.

The media, particularly the press, has been active in its coverage of this national disgrace — and must be given due credit. `Civil society` which reared its head in 2007 has not been too vocal, there have been no marches or demos against the cheats, charlatans, con-persons and four-flushers who have passed themselves off as legislators.

The two intrepid tilters at windmills, friends Naeem Sadiq and Isa Daudpota, appealed in April to the Chief Justice of Pakistan pleading that he order that the parliamentarians` degrees be verified and those found with fake degrees be disqualified immediately and barred from ever again standing for election.

Last month they sent him a second appeal requesting that he take legal action against the CEC or Chief Election Commissioner (current and previous) for failing to verify the declared degrees and allowing cheats and crooks to sit in our parliament. The fault that they are where they are lies entirely with the CECs.

The CEC and, by extension, the HEC must shoulder the blame for this unacceptable state of affairs and see that the matter is sorted out as per the orders of the Supreme Court and as per accepted norms of honesty. All who have sat in parliament between 2002 and 2007 and all who now sit there must share the guilt for having connived and acquiesced with gross moral corruption. The universities of the country must cooperate, and not in their turn cheat and falsify, in weeding out the bogus degrees and by advising the HEC which in turn should make public the list of all the criminals who have conned us.

To top it all, when on the subject of connivance and acquiescence, we had the chief minister of Balochistan, a `nawab` no less, Aslam Raisani, who recently when uttering on the subject of the holders of fake degrees in his assembly (13 members of whom allegedly stand accused) is quoted (this newspaper June 30) as having stated that “a degree is a degree whether fake or genuine”. If such be the belief and thinking of our legislators, then not even God Almighty can save this country from its moral morass.

arfc@cyber.net.pk

 

, , , ,

No Comments

PARLIAMENTARY CROOKS: How Crooks Rule Pakistan-Nearly 70 percent of Pakistani lawmakers don’t file taxes

 

“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

 Plato quotes (Ancient Greek Philosopher He was the world’s most influential philosopher. 428 BC-348 BC)

 

 

Nearly 70 percent of Pakistani lawmakers don’t file taxes – group

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Almost 70 percent of Pakistani lawmakers did not file income taxes last year, an investigative journalism group said on Wednesday, highlighting deep flaws in a taxation system that has drawn repeated criticism from Western aid donors.

The Center for Investigative Journalism in Pakistan released a report based on leaked tax returns, marking the first time that the records of 446 lawmakers and ministers have been published and focusing scrutiny on individuals ahead of polls next year.

Pakistan’s inability to raise revenue has constrained government spending, depriving schools and hospitals of funds and exacerbating a power crisis, causing widespread hardship in the nuclear-armed country of 180 million people.

Western allies have poured billions of dollars in aid into Pakistan, worried that growing public anger may boost recruitment to Islamist militant groups threatening to destabilise Pakistan and beyond.

But the aid has not been nearly enough to plug the huge gap between members of the elite, who often pay little tax, and the poor who desperately need the public services taxes should fund.

“This is what the people of Pakistan are upset about,” said Jehangir Tareen, a trim, silver-haired businessman who paid the most tax in the National Assembly last year. He tried to set a precedent by making his returns public but no one followed suit.

“Taxes are the beginning and end of reform in Pakistan,” said Tareen, who gave up his seat in parliament in frustration over his inability to push changes. “Right now the rich are colluding to live off the poor.”

Umar Cheema, an award-winning journalist heading the Center for Investigative Journalism, said he hoped the report would make members of parliament more accountable to voters.

Cheema took legislators’ identity card numbers from their public election nomination papers, then convinced employees at the Federal Board of Revenue to leak the tax returns related to the identity numbers. It took him nine months to collect the data.

POOR ENFORCEMENT

The report highlights why Pakistan has failed to improve its tax collection rates: politicians benefit from a lax regime. No one has been convicted of income tax evasion in 25 years and few Pakistanis see a failure to pay tax as shameful.

Although lawmakers have about $25 (15.48 pounds) a month deducted from their basic pay in tax, almost all have second incomes.

“They built this system for their own benefit,” said tax expert Ikramul Haq. Poor laws and loopholes meant lawmakers often have their income exempt from tax, he said.

Huge swathes of the economy, like agriculture, are virtually exempt. Specially designated products also benefit from “zero-ratings” and are not subject to any tax.

“We want to cut down on zero ratings and loopholes,” said Ali Arshad Hakeem, the head of the Federal Board of Revenue. He has vowed to crack down on tax cheats.

“Parliamentarians are just a subsection of the population we want to become compliant,” he said.

Enforcement is so poor that paying tax is almost voluntary, another revenue official said. About one percent of Pakistanis file tax returns.

The investigative group said it had not been able to find tax returns for 35 out of 55 government ministers, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Finance Minister Hafiz Sheikh was among those who did file, paying $1,700 in tax on his ministerial salary. His money from private equity funds would be exempt, a tax official said. He spent more on his electricity bill than his taxes, according to a federal tax record seen by Reuters.

The interior and finance ministries did not return calls or emails inquiring about tax obligations for ministers. Visits by a Reuters reporter also did not yield any comments.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar paid $670, the investigative center said. Her spokesman said she paid $1,700, more than most. Her agricultural income and a small dividend from up-market restaurants she co-owns were exempt, he said.

Among the ordinary members of parliament whose tax returns the investigative group was unable to find is Mehboob Ullah Jan, a former secretary for religious affairs.

He is often pictured wearing a traditional flat cap, handing out aid to poor families fleeing fighting in his native northwestern Pakistan.

Jan has assets of more than $30 million, making him the country’s richest legislator, according to an analysis of asset declarations by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, an Islamabad-based think-tank.

Jan did not return calls seeking comment.

The average Pakistani legislator has assets of $800,000, the investigative center’s study of their declarations found. Yet of those who paid tax, most paid less than $1,000, it said.

Former minister and Georgetown University graduate Mushahid Hussain Syed paid less than a dollar in tax, the center said. The senator was attending a conference in Bali but sent an email disputing the report and saying he had paid $6.

“I was not a Senator then, my source of support was from my family’s agricultural income and lecture honoraria,” he told Reuters.

According to his tax record, Syed paid $6 but had $5 due as a refund.

“RIDDLED WITH HOLES”

The report makes troubling reading for Pakistan’s donors. Much of their aid supports services normally funded by state revenues.

Britain has begun a five-year, billion dollar project to improve education in Pakistan. The United States has given Pakistan more than $3 billion over the past two years.

Pakistan also owes the International Monetary Fund (IMF) $7 billion. The IMF has repeatedly demanded Pakistan widen its tax base as a precondition of possibly rescheduling loan repayments.

“The tax net is riddled with holes,” said Jeffrey Franks, a regional advisor to the IMF.

Most countries collect between 20 to 40 percent of their economic output in tax. In Pakistan, less than 10 percent is collected, Franks said.

Pakistan revenue authorities say 0.57 percent of adults pay income tax and the number is steadily declining.

“People know that the elites, the government, are corrupt but they don’t understand how the corruption works,” said report author Cheema.

“If our rulers are not paying for themselves, why should taxpayers in other countries pay for them?”

Part of the problem with going after tax evaders is the poor state of records at the Federal Board of Revenue. It’s hard to distinguish ineptitude from corruption, officials said.

About three quarters of the time, people’s declarations of what they paid did not match the actual payments, the officials said. An official said authorities never really tried to match up the records: “Oh dear God, no!” he laughed.

(Editing by Michael Georgy and Robert Birsel)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

This video has been hacked by cyberterrorists of MQM and defaced. This was done at the direction of Pakistan’s No.1 Terrorist, Altaf Hussain

, , , , , ,

No Comments


Skip to toolbar