.: Features

Date: 21 Apr 2011

Pakistan does have a national vision and national leadership but it does not have a political party that embraces that vision and acknowledges its leader. The prime national objective of Pakistan has always been the liberation of Jammu and Kashmir and Syed Ali Shah Geelani the leader of the liberation struggle for fifty years. It is time we reiterate that Kashmiris are a part of the Pakistan nation and Syed AliSyed Ali Geelani the leader of the nation. In a widely televised speech he made in Srinagar, Syed Ali Geelani said, “We are Pakistanis; Pakistan is ours”. Based on that reiteration Rifah Party embraces Syed Ali Geelani as the national leader and the liberation of Jammu and Kashmir as the foremost national objective of Pakistan.

Pakistan is located in a strategically important area where three emerging powers and two active battle fields are located. China is a nation of 1400 million people, India of 1200 million and Russia continues to be resource rich and territorially the largest country in the world. Afghanistan and Iran are a battlefield where religious zealotry and ethnic chauvinism are a source of perpetual instability. India and Pakistan have been at war ever since they came into being in 1947. India threatens Pakistan’s water and food security by its continued occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. However, in the new circumstances, Kashmir can be liberated in one year.

Pakistan helped liberate not just Afghanistan but also the five Central Asian Republics and Azerbaijan. Their security and prosperity is a part on Pakistan’s national purpose. Consolidation of the ten ECO States all of which are contiguous Muslim majority countries - Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan - must be the common purpose and visionary objective of all ten states.

Pakistan being a nuclear power and the largest nation and Turkish the language of most of the states, Pakistan and Turkey must lead efforts to create a union of the ten states. The Union must embrace as its objectives: 1) acceptance that the present frontiers are sacrosanct and inviolable, 2) that an attack on any one state would be deemed to be an attack on all; 3) commitment to unfettered movement of people and goods within the Union. New high speed rail links - Karachi to Kashgar and Islamabad to Berlin via Afghanistan – to be built on priority basis to provide physical means to support the vision of Union of ten ECO states.

Pakistan is faced with internal threats aided and abetted by India and America. A political rationale to combat the threat from the Takfiri brand of Islam, tribal nationalists of Baluchistan or urban Mafiosi of Karachi and Sindh is needed. The political class of Pakistan is incapable of articulating the counter-argument. It is not the flag bearer of democracy but an instrument of loot and plunder. Every leading political party in Pakistan is run like a mafia with a single family in perpetual power. Pakistan needs at least one proper political party without which there is no hope of democracy or good governance in Pakistan. Rifah Party is resolved to be one such proper political party committed to a national vision and agenda articulating a programme that unites the people and accelerates its socio-economic progress. The outline programme of Rifah Party is as follows:

Administrative and Political Reforms

Under Musharraf rule every institution of the state was undermined. The judiciary has since recovered but it is shaky because it is defied by the Executive with impunity. The armed forces escaped his evil overtures largely because of institutional resistance. However, the damage done by him elsewhere has still not been undone. Rifah party proposes the following programme to repair the damage and to move forward:

1. Reforms carried out under the so called ‘Devolution Plan’ to be revoked completely and entirely. The objective of these reforms was to use city governments as goons of the Central Government in elections.

2. Police Reforms to be revoked completely and entirely. These reforms made the police top heavy, split investigation from registration and record of crimes, undermining proper prosecution and allowing political meddling thus making maintenance of law and order impossible.

3. The number of seats in the national and provincial assemblies to be reduced to the era before Musharraf. The reserved seats for women have been given to quarrelsome housewives or daughters of party leaders. The shameful charade should be promptly brought to an end.

4. Every province to be split into three with boundaries of the new provinces to be decided by a separate commission in each current province of eminent judges and civil servants with no political interference. The agencies of FATA to be integrated into the new provinces. Each of the twelve new provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan to have five seats in the Senate.

Foreign Policy

5. To leave SAARC, which is an instrument of Indian hegemony over South Asia, consolidate a union of ECO states and transform Afghanistan from a barrier to a bridge to Central Asia.

6. Having gone back on its commitment to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir, India has conceded that the people of Jammu and Kashmir want to join Pakistan. Rifah Party to amend the constitution declaring the state of Jammu and Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan. China and the OIC support that stand. The day is not far when India would be forced to agree to a plebiscite under UN auspices according to the agreement between India and Pakistan, which was endorsed by the UN Security Council as early as in 1948

7. Among the neighbours of Pakistan China is the only country whose national vision - creating a multi-polar world - is supported by the people of Pakistan. China is a pillar of strength for Pakistan and a guarantee against adventures by India. The friendship should be reinforced by an all-weather rail link and rapid increase in Chinese investment in industry and infrastructure in Pakistan.

8. America is too far to be a natural ally of India or Pakistan. If anything, its economic interests make it a natural ally of the Muslim world. But America is under tight control of Indo-Zionist lobbies that make and execute its policies. As long as that is the case, America will continue to menace the security of every Muslim country. But the dichotomy creates some room for manoeuvre. The ECO States in unison can exercise considerable influence for the mutual benefit of the USA and the region.

Economic Policy

It is the duty of the state to match supply with demand. The present government has failed to perform that function. Scarcity of electricity and gas are created by the ruling coalition who is insensitive to the needs and aspirations of the people of Pakistan. The solution to load shedding has been widely discussed on the electronic media but the present rulers are content that it is hurting the Punjab more. All parties in the ruling coalition are willing and eager to use the Sindh or Baluchistan card against the Punjab. Rampant corruption and deliberate mismanagement of the economy and state institutions to cultivate constituencies of hate undermine national unity while burden the economy and the state exchequer with huge cost.

The state is unable to increase its tax revenue because of resistance by its coalition partners. Pakistan is becoming unique as a failed state – a prosperous country which is failing because it is unable to design and enforce fiscal policy required to arrest rampant inflation. Public anger is rising and social atrophy reaching alarming levels. Salient features of economic reforms proposed are as follows:

9. The plunder of countries is made possible by two instruments – flexible exchange rates and FDI (foreign direct investment) in stock exchanges of ‘emerging markets’. The world-wide banking crisis did not affect the emerging economies much because the penetration by the big Western banks was limited. But the reforms since introduced leave both the instruments in place. The world’s leading economies are stymied because the emerging markets are wary and aware but much more is needed. China and oil rich Arab states have the money and the clout to create a new system that stops the plunder. Rifah to design monetary policy to save the economy from international instruments of exploitation.

10. The present budget and balance of payments deficit are being met by IMF. Under IMF direction the rate of economic growth is falling causing rising inflation and falling employment. To reverse the trend Rifah would introduce fiscal policies to increase tax-GDP ratio from 9% to 16%.

11. Set target prices of essential commodities like wheat, meat and sugar, also of cement and steel, and achieve those by increasing production and controlling cartels.

12. Rupee to be revalued to say 75 Rupees to a Dollar. Import duties to be increased by 20 %.

13. All Pakistanis except those ‘ordinarily resident abroad’ should be required by law declare their foreign assets and pay taxes on them in Pakistan. Money laundering laws should be strictly enforced after a period of amnesty.

14. Dams store water; they do not consume water. More dams are needed to take care of scarcity of water in South Punjab and Sindh. Kalabagh being the most southern gorge has the most potential for storage of additional water. Rifah would build dams on all gorges on the Indus River. It would nationalize KESC, import LPG from Qatar, and accelerate programme to develop new oil and gas fields with the objective of immediate end to all load shedding of gas and electricity except in areas where theft is rampant.

15. Offset Agreements. All major importers, all foreign companies who have assembly plants in Pakistan, and all those companies relying on imported raw materials or components, should be bound by law to match their imports with exports by offset agreements where necessary. This should reduce the trade deficit - even eliminate it.

Health, Education and Employment Policy

When there is demand for which people are prepared to pay, it is an asset that drives rapid development. There are enough resources in local capital and plenty of foreign capital available in the hands of our close friends – the Chinese and the Arabs – to invest in Pakistan. Rifah Party to explore and focus on the following avenues:

16. National Health Service is a huge employment generator for professionals. Hospitals and GP clinics on Canadian lines to be organised countrywide. The health service may be funded partly by general taxation and partly by a uniform charge of Rs. 50/- per person per month. The bill for those unable to pay should be paid from Zakat.

17. Universal education up to Matriculation to be provided by the State. The salaries of primary school teachers to be paid for by the state with the premises provided by the community; secondary school teachers’ salaries to be paid from school fees while the state to provide and maintain quality buildings and sports facilities.

18. Clean drinking water and wide use of solar energy to provide it in rural areas is a vital need. Water management using new technologies is a huge employment generator in which the most expertise has been developed by our friends in China. Rifah would draw on that source.

Security Policy

19. Our armed forces are well equipped and well trained for conventional war but not for asymmetrical war. The armed forces are anguished by the continual defiance of the Judiciary by the Executive and demoralised by propaganda against them which the present Government often endorses. This creates a situation that either democracy is under threat or the entire edifice of the state. This is happening at a time when liberation of Jammu and Kashmir has become more urgent in view of India going ahead with building dams on Rivers whose water belongs to Pakistan under the Indus Basin Water Treaty. India knows that it courts the risk of war but it depends of the effete leadership of Pakistan to get away with its excesses against the Kashmiri people and Pakistan’s national interests. Rifah would demonstrate that Pakistan has the resolve, ability and plans to take up the challenge.

20. Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine to be modified to say that low intensity war in Kashmir would not invite ‘first strike’ response but the violation of the Indo-Pakistan border elsewhere would invite ‘first strike’ response from Pakistan.

21. Pakistan to discuss the issue of Wakhan corridor with Afghanistan that was created in order to separate British India from the Soviet Union. Now it is an unnecessary barrier between Pakistan and Tajikistan- Kyrgyzstan. It should be bought back from Afghanistan to which it is of little use.
Sajjad Ahmad is based in Rāwalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan, and is Reporter for Allvoices

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