Imran Khan is right, Pakistan should have more than four provinces
By Shakir Lakhani Published: May 21, 2018
Dividing the country into more provinces could ease the problems faced by its people. PHOTO: RAHEEM


Whenever I make any comments about Pakistan having more provinces and smaller units, the reaction is always the same,
 

“You want to divide the country? Are you a RAW agent or what?” 
So when Imran Khan promised the creation of a South Punjab, it was a pleasant surprise to hear him say something intelligent for once. Imran made this promise recently as he welcomed turncoats from South Punjab into his party; defectors who enjoyed the perks and privileges of being MNAs for the past five years while saying nothing about creating a new province, until now.
Whenever I make any comments about Pakistan having more provinces and smaller units, the reaction is always the same,
“You want to divide the country? Are you a RAW agent or what?” 
So when Imran Khan promised the creation of a South Punjab, it was a pleasant surprise to hear him say something intelligent for once. Imran made this promise recently as he welcomed turncoats from South Punjab into his party; defectors who enjoyed the perks and privileges of being MNAs for the past five years while saying nothing about creating a new province, until now.

While supporting the demand by the Janoobi Punjab Suba Mahaaz (JPSM) for a South Punjab province, Imran said,
“I believe that it is very difficult to administer big units.”
He went on to say,
“The power is centred in Lahore and there is a growing sense of deprivation in south Punjab areas.”
So according to Imran, and rightly so, Punjab should be divided. But if he really is sincere when he says the country should have more provinces, why does he want the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P)? Why not have more provinces to make K-P itself more manageable? And why does he say nothing about Sindh being divided into smaller provinces as well?
In fact, when it comes to Karachi, Imran holds a diametrically opposite view:
“Karachi cannot be a separate province,” he said.
He knows that if he says otherwise, his party will get no votes from the rural areas of Sindh. So it seems Imran is just paying lip service to the cause of smaller provinces, and he will continue to do so as long as his party remains in the opposition.
Devolution of power by having more provinces is good for democracy and strengthens the country. Unfortunately, neither Nawaz Sharif nor Asif Ali Zardari want power to be given to local bodies. The Sharif brothers have spent more than half of Punjab’s budget on the beautification of Lahore, whereas the less is said about Sindh, the better.
Although Karachi contributes most of the revenue for its province, hardly anything is spent on the city, and the mounds of garbage accumulating have made it the dirtiest city in the region. Of course, if even some of the revenue contributed by the people of Karachi had been spent on the welfare of the city, would the rulers of Sindh have been able to siphon away billions to foreign countries? After all, Rs2 billion in cash was allegedly recovered from a raid at Information Minister Sharjeel Memon’s house. Where did he get such a huge amount of money, and that too in cash?
One problem faced by the common man is that the rulers are inaccessible to the public at large. Gwadar is about 800 kilometres from Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, while Zhob is about half that distance from Quetta. People in these two cities have to spend a considerable amount of time to get their personal problems heard by ministers. Similarly, Multan is 300 kilometres away from Lahore, and the distance between the Kashmore District and Karachi is 600 kilometres.
Dividing the country into more provinces could ease the problems faced by its people, as having more provinces will bring the seats of the government closer to the citizens.
There is no reason why Pakistan (with more than 200 million people) should have only four large administrative units. Having four provinces made sense in 1947, when the population was only 30 million. Switzerland has a population of eight million, less than half of Karachi’s, yet it is divided into 26 parts, known as cantons. No wonder Switzerland is one of the most efficient societies in the world.
Turkey, with a population of 81 million, has 81 provinces, while Taiwan, with 23 million, has 22. Having only four provinces has encouraged corruption and ensured Pakistan remains backward and underdeveloped. This situation cannot continue for long, and unless more provinces are created, the people will be forced to come out on the streets.
Those who live in Karachi know what it is to have rulers who know nothing about their problems. The city used to have a Karachi Building Control Authority once, which was the largest contributor to its revenue. The greedy rulers of the province, belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), renamed it to the Sindh Building Control Authority so they could have control over this lucrative department. Out of the 27 directors of this moneymaking entity, 22 are outsiders posted in Karachi, no doubt after paying a handsome sum to get the job.
In fact, practically all those who preside over Karachi’s destiny have had their origins in other cities of Sindh. Consequently, you meet very few genuine Karachiites working in the departments of the Sindh government. Most policemen in Karachi are unable to make themselves understood because they cannot speak the national language fluently, as they have spent their lives in villages and small towns far away from Karachi and have been appointed for being party activists. If Karachi were made a separate province, its elected ministers would be aware of what the people need, and since they would be easily accessible to voters throughout the year, they would ensure that taxes paid by the people are spent wisely and not siphoned away into foreign bank accounts.
I have no doubt that in every provincial capital, government servants are appointed by ministers from their own constituencies and not on merit. Conversely, having more provinces would mean more employment for those who are residents, and street crime would decrease as a result.
Ideally, all those cities or divisions with populations between 10 and 20 million should be made provinces. Karachi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Hyderabad, Multan and Rawalpindi would all fall under this category. The cities having less than a million residents can be merged with smaller neighbouring towns to make more provinces. Due to its small population and large area, the present six divisions of Balochistan can be made provinces, while K-P can be split into three provinces. Sindh can have five: Karachi, Hyderabad, Larkana, Sukkur and Mirpurkhas.
Having more units would mean the transfer of funds to more people who can use them wisely. As we have seen in Punjab, most of the funds have been spent in Lahore, central and north Punjab; all part of the core constituency of the Sharif brothers. South Punjab has therefore seen very little development in the past five years.
Even though a federal system of government works best when control and authority are decentralised, as is the case when more provinces are created, it is doubtful that the present mindset and greed of our politicians will allow them to agree to the formation of more provinces. Our citizens will thus be compelled to go on living as they have in the past, with poor healthcare, without proper education for their children, with battered roads and heaps of garbage lying everywhere.


Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (twitter.com/shakirlakhani)

https://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/67061/imran-khan-is-right-pakistan-should-have-more-than-four-provinces/ 



Why have elections?

If our politicians favour real democracy, why do they not hold transparent elections in their own parties?




After the recent charade of the senate elections and the election of the chairman and deputy chairman, one cannot be blamed for wondering if we really do deserve to have the kind of democracy which allows politicians to loot and plunder.
Of course, since Nawaz Sharif himself did his best to destabilise past PPP governments, he ought not to have been shocked at what has happened to him.
It has been obvious for a long time that we are not democratic by nature. The ten immediate years after partition saw politicians fighting among themselves, while prime ministers did not last long in those tumultuous days, with one, I I Chundrigar, resigning only a month into his tenure.
The people, therefore, actually welcomed General Ayub Khan with open arms, calling him the saviour of the country. Claiming that universal adult franchise (one man-one vote) is not suited to the temperament of our people, Ayub introduced the basic democracy system in which an electorate of only eighty thousand people, out of a total population of eighty million, voted to elect members of the national assembly.
These basic democrats elected Ayub Khan as president, rejecting the popular Miss Fatima Jinnah. Those elections were thought to be massively rigged, as she was the sister of the founder of the nation and was very popular among the masses. Ms. Jinnah also died under very suspicious circumstances, and it is widely believed that she was murdered during her sleep.
When Ayub Khan became unpopular, however, our people came out on the streets to throw him out. The people did not protest when he handed power over to another general, although his own constitution said that the national assembly speaker, an East Pakistani, should have taken over as president.
After the first supposedly free and fair elections in 1970, the winner Shaikh Mujeebur Rahman should have been allowed to form the government. Unfortunately, our so-called ‘democracy-loving’ politicians, led by Bhutto, and those who were in power at the time simply could not bear the thought of having an East Pakistani heading the government.
The country was dismembered, and we had to start anew, with Bhutto serving as the civilian martial law administrator and whose intransigence was the main reason for the country’s breakup.
Despite calling himself a committed democrat, Bhutto was highly autocratic, very much like Imran Khan, Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. He humiliated and tortured many of his party stalwarts like JA Rahim and Mukhtar Rana, who had the courage to oppose him.
Bhutto’s tenure ended in 1977 when the people came out to protest against the massively rigged elections, and when General Zia seized power even though he held Bhutto in high esteem mere days before launching the coup. Then again, our politicians too have the knack of changing sides at the drop of a hat, as is being witnessed nowadays.
After the restoration of democracy, both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto connived with the establishment to dislodge each other’s governments. Even during the last PPP government, both Zardari and Nawaz were at each other’s throats. Zardari imposed governor’s rule in Punjab, while Nawaz sided with the establishment in the Memogate scandal.
If our politicians favour real democracy, why do they not hold transparent elections in their own parties? Shahbaz Sharif was elected unopposed as party chairman of the PML-N. Apparently no one else had the guts to oppose him.
The PPP, moreover, is a family business, with grey-haired and experienced veterans like Aitzaz Ahsan and Raza Rabbani forced to obey the orders of the virtually inexperienced Bilawal, while the PTI chief rejected his own election commission’s report about rigged elections and corruption within his party.
It has sadly been like this since the country’s independence, with history repeating itself every few years. Our leaders have always been embroiled in trying to retain or attain power, which gives an opportunity to the establishment to step in, much to the relief of the common man. Those who lose elections try their best to dislodge the winners, who in turn try desperately to remain in power and therefore cannot concentrate on good governance, which leads to the country suffering.
It has been said that the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. Talk to the voter in our rural areas and you find that he is not at all bothered by corruption. He respects those who are wealthy and who live in their own palatial houses.
In fact, if our politicians were to suddenly adopt simple lifestyles like giving up their motorcades and getting their children educated in government schools, they would find themselves losing the confidence and respect of their voters. The common Pakistani thinks, “If this man is not wealthy, how can he solve our problems?” The average Pakistani peasant will either vote for his feudal landlord’s party or to someone who belongs to his own caste or tribe. Which is why the PPP will continue to win elections in the rural areas of Sindh.
One may well ask then, “Why have elections at all?” Why not simply appoint members of the feudal elite throughout the country to rule and supervise development in those areas which they control?
Look at our assemblies, dominated by feudal lords and the filthy rich. The nation has to incur massive expenditure on holding elections, which in any case tend to be rigged and tend to cause so much bitterness.
Even in the US, a man like Donald Trump became president, despite the fact that Hilary Clinton got three million more votes than he did. In our own country, we had a prime minister who has been elected three times, and who is the alleged owner of property worth millions.
Perhaps a few years without elections may be the solution to our ills. Plus, of course, having incorruptible leaders like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore who will not hesitate to take strict action against those indulging in corruption.
The writer is an engineer, a former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, an industrialist, and has been associated with the petroleum, chemical industries for many years. He tweets @shakirlakhani
Published in Daily Times, May 16th 2018.
https://dailytimes.com.pk/240455/why-have-elections/