By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)
On May 26, People’s Party government presented its viewpoint about Swiss cases in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It was a historical event in the history of Pakistan. The government ministers were standing like accused in the court but this attitude of People’s party is appreciable. At least they did not attack the court as Nawaz did in 90’s. People’s Party has set an example for Pakistani elites, how to behave in time of crisis.
But Nawaz, seeing People’s party a bit successful in this period of crisis, started criticizing the government policy and deriding the government for its governance. To understand this illogical and untimely criticism of Nawaz, it is necessary that the general masses should have clear understanding of good governance, especially in time of war.
Governance means to minimize the political, social and economical shortcomings of a state by the proper utilization of government machinery, civil society, media and market. If the mandatory objectives are achieved successfully, it is called good governance. But normally common people define good governance as excellent performance of the administrative bodies of the state. Common people also think that these administrative bodies of the state are at the mercy of the political government. They do not understand the complexities of the system.
Good governance is such an ideal that is not possible to achieve but in search of this ideal the country starts moving ahead and the ultimate result is an increase in the collective and individual revenue. Common people judge the government is this way. However, to understand good governance there must be some questions in our minds. What are the characteristics and principles of good governance? How these principles are applied? Moreover, what are the parameters to judge good governance? Governance is a complicated process that consists of different layers, customs, traditions, technology, history, government, private sector, civil society and media affect governance. Public participation is must for good governance. This participation can be direct or through elected members. But it is not possible to accommodate the wishes of all in legislation. Public participation means the freedom of expression and a share in development.
Impartial judiciary is the backbone for good governance. There must be rule of law in the country. Decisions should be made according to rules regulations and then implemented. The institutions must be made binding to solve the public problems within the promised timeframe. All the people of the society must feel that they are respectable citizens of the state and their opinions are valuable. The process of transparent accountability is essentially required for maintaining good governance. Accountability does not encompass only the government but all the institutions including civil society are accountable.
Along with peaceful transfer of government, different geographical and linguistic groups must have representation in the legislature. Strong institutions, monitoring of administration, professional and honest bureaucracy are necessary for good governance. Besides this the tendency of making such policies that can strengthen the economy, eradicate poverty, making people as pivot of investment and purposeful competition in private sector should prevail.
On international level, there are different measuring tools for good governance and on the basis of this analysis the donor agencies and banks issue funds. These organizations keep an eye on the accountability process, political stability, non-violence, writ of the government, powers of the government, rule of law, corruption, education, transport, taxation, people’s trust in the government, crime rate, availability of the resources, size of the bureaucracy, economic progress, research, and democracy.
Good governance is the first step towards development. If two countries are having similar resources but stands at different levels of development, it is because of the difference of governance. The countries where there is corruption, reckless handling of funds, no accountability, violations of human rights and frequent martial laws will result in low growth rate. According to the World Bank report, countries having good governance can decrease poverty rate by one percent if they get funds equivalent to one percent of their GDP. Good governance results in getting higher of consciousness in public. They will not psychologically tolerate lies and dishonesty and will express their concerns boldly.
Now consider those countries where there is war. Is this possible that government of such country can abide by the rules of good governance? Because they are busy in war governance. Government tenure can be prolonged by false promises and announcements but war cannot be won by hollow slogans. Good governance and war both needs resources. The problem is that if resources are consumed by war so can we apply the same measuring tools to judge the governance, which were used in peace. Before firing the first bullet the expenditure of the war is estimated. But if the war is inherited from previous government or when there is no other way out so is this possible that war and good governance can go together.
The failure and success in war does not make any difference in expenses. War needs soldiers, machinery and infrastructure which can not be prepared by the short notice of the army commanders. Besides this war needs constant tactics, thinking and energy. A government busy in war cannot satisfy all the needs of the people. And the people should not expect good governance in war. War affects education, health, economy, rule of law and legislation. In war, neither government can perform well nor can the people pay taxes. Both sides will have to be ready for sacrifice. The problems can be solved by resources provided the country is in safe hands.
It is unfair to criticize People’s party government for the lack of good governance at the time when government is busy in war governance. People’s party came to power when the country was reaping the crops of 30 years Jihadi policies. The U-turn of Pakistani government regarding Jihadi policy is a kind of repentance of the past. Now during these years of rolling back, it is very difficult to satisfy general masses and especially Jihadi media. The good policies of the government are too washed away in the uproar of Jihadi media against People’s party. However, Gilgit Bultistan elections show that people still like this party. The local body’s elections will also help People’s party to recover its lost image.