By Mubarak Ali Baloch
Strong institutions with honest and upright management deny manipulative tendencies to undermine their institutional mandate. Positive institutional vibrance generates salutary impact in the area of governance falling in the ambit. For this to happen people with high moral standards and professional caliber are normally preferred to run such institutional entities. The latter are mandated to serve the interest of masses while simultaneously guarding and upholding the say of the state.
Unfortunately a lot of confusion is seen following the institutional near collapse in Sindh. Despite much hue and cry there has been no let up in the dwindling luster of institutions/ departments. Lack-luster working has been promoting despondency in people. Notwithstanding institutional near bankruptcy people, with visible ethnic contours in Sindh, have been sympathetic towards ruling party mainly after execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto followed with unnatural demise of his two sons and daughter Benazir Bhutto. This generated emotions and sympathy factor in the populace particularly living in countryside in Sindh.
Results of 2008 General Elections pushing PPP to power corridors should be seen in view of voters’ emotional and sympathetic response in the wake of assassination of Benazir Bhutto, however; party has badly failed to deliver even in its stronghold like Sindh. Needless to state the magnitude of corruption in province as precedents of making the institutions subservient are many and unaccounted for. Decision of installing, consecutively for two terms an octogenarian as Chief Executive of province is not understandable as chief ministerial job needs active vigilance demanding both physical and mental alacrity to understand and the rate the performance of the cabinet. The same could not be realized. Besides, in many instances co-chairman of party with his sibling (sister) remains the focus of power. Recent statement of Chief Minister that he has responsibility to discharge without authority vindicates the perception that authority lies with party chief.
The resignation of Justice (R) Agha Rafique Ahmed as Chairman Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) is corroborative of irrefutable perception that institutions have badly been dented and personal tendencies have permeated deep. The outgoing Chairman SPSC, as gathered from his media outbursts was under tremendous pressure to ignore the merit and publicize the nominees list allegedly received from Chief Minister office as successful candidates for being appointed as Assistant Sub Inspector in Sindh Police. Generally held perception is that SPSC with its current incumbent is also unable to withstand politicians’ bidding.
Widespread malpractices are noticed in the development works being carried out through contractors in the province. Favourtism and nepotism are reported while awarding contractual works of development schemes in province. This stands clearly substantiated in the face of the poor quality of work observed in development schemes like roads, buildings, bridges etc. Completed projects immediately start showing sagging areas like potholes on roads, buildings ceilings and floors chip off and bridges give in. Condition of roads infrastructure one sees turning suddenly worse once entering province from Kammu Shaheed police check post or elsewhere from Punjab. This is indicative of poor work.
Much to the chagrin of everyone education is in doldrums as seen from the statistics gathered and publicized by Alif Ailaan, an NGO which carried out a credible work in data gathering. A large number of schools are without basic facilities. Issue of ghost schools and teachers is an other menace. Recently, a large number of teachers were seen protesting and marching towards CM secretariat pressing for acceptance of their miscellaneous demands. A private TV reporter’s video footage showed basic words spelling challenge to protesting teachers abundantly exposing their incapability. Merit is compromised while recruiting teaching faculty. There has been a large reduction in the enrolment of students in government managed schools. This reflects the absence of interest of people in government run schools. Newly introduced supervision by revenue officials also fell flat.
On the other hand Sindh police has been politicized to the extent that the force badly lacks the professional and moral courage to neutralize the criminals’ challenge. Hence Rangers had to be called in aid of the police to combat crime in Karachi. Rangers performed well as there has been marked decrease in crime graph. Criminals are seen somewhere hobnobbing with the affluent segments of society having political background, hence Rangers turned against such collaborators as well. This has been resented by Sindh province and policing authority of Rangers has been extended after necessary curtailment in powers. With curtailed authority it would probably be impossible for federal force to continue with satisfactory performance giving way to criminal spree to resurface. Common man, business community and other segments of society heaved a sigh of relief in the wake of effective policing by the Rangers. Dithering and subsequently extending curtailed authority generated ripples in federal capital with federal interior minister blessing Rangers with perfect authority to operate in province. The latter sees it as interference in the dispensation of provincial domain.
PPP has been facing tough challenges ahead and indomitable being leadership’s incapability to resist temptations inducing to indulge in corrupt practices. Insipid governance is fast generating thick layer of pessimism in people. Situation is likely to take ugly turn in the weeks to come in the face of brewing confrontation between province and centre over Rangers issue.