Posted By: Jarri Mirza
By amending the National Command Authority Ordinance, President Asif Ali Zardari has taken another important step forward to implement the Charter of Democracy (CoD) in its letter and spirit.
According to the ordinance, the president has delegated decision-making powers of the NCA to the prime minister. Democratic institutions and parliamentary democracy was strengthening in the country, however, it was being wrongly portrayed by some groups having vested interests as weakening of the PPP-led government.
Dispelling the impression by some news analysts with regard to the amendment to the NCA as the surrender of power by the president. Initiative was the fulfilment of the PPP’s manifesto inspired by the dreams of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as well as the guiding principles of the CoD.
The government was working to achieve the road-map agreed by the two main political parties of the country in the Charter of Democracy, signed by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif on May 14, 2006, in London.
Extracts from the CoD, reaffirming “our commitment to democracy and universally recognised fundamental rights, the rights of a vibrant opposition, internal party democracy, ideological/political tolerance, bipartisan working of parliament through a powerful committee system, a cooperative federation with no discrimination against federating units, the devolution of power, maximum provincial autonomy and the empowerment of the people at the grassroots level.”
“The emancipation of our people from poverty, ignorance, want and disease, the uplift of women and minorities, the elimination of Kalashnikov culture, a free media, an independent judiciary, a neutral civil service, rule of law and merit, the settlement of disputes with neighbours through peaceful means, honouring international contracts and laws/covenants and sovereign guarantees to achieve a responsible status through a foreign policy that suits our national interests.” Some media spin doctors are trying to mislead the people by spreading rumours, speculations and wrong interpretation of facts to defame the leadership of the present government. The present government has achieved a number of landmarks in line with aspirations of the people and the spirit of CoD leading to an enduring democracy in the country.
Some key successes achieved by the government which included the initiation of consultative and re-conciliatory form of government by taking the elected representatives on-board on all important issues like the war on terrorism, military operation against terrorists and empowerment of the parliament through constitution of committee system to the extent that the leader of the opposition has been appointed as the chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The constitutional committee under the leadership of Senator Mian Raza Rabbani comprising all parties represented in the parliament to review and suggest amendments to the constitution distorted by the successive military and non-representative regimes.
The Committee had so far held 29 rigorous meetings to deliberate upon all contentious provisions inserted in the constitution through 17th amendment by the previous regime. The president has taken keen interest in expediting the process of committee proceedings and has already indicated to have the consensus document to be presented to the parliament in December.
This is going to be another landmark achievement of the present government by taking the course of consultation for consensus-building on key issues of national importance, the anti-government spin doctors are trying to belittle the achievements of the government with regard to progress made by the country. The restoration of peace in Swat and Malakand and handling of the IDPs. The government had launched a number of schemes for alleviation of poverty, empowerment of women and employment to the unemployed.
The launching of Benazir Income Support Programme worth Rs70 billion, Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme in more than 80 state owned enterprises, through which 12% shares worth more than Rs110 billion have been given to employees, free of cost.
Additionally, Benazir Green Tractors Scheme for small farmers, subsidy to the people in provision of about 70 items at the Utility Stores, increase in the minimum wages of the workers to Rs6,000, revival of trade unions through IRA 2009, restoration of thousands of sacked employees, regularisation of contract employees, National Internship programme, increase in the salaries of government employees are some other steps taken by the government.
In addition to short term measures, the present government has also launched new policies in the field of education, textile, power, petroleum and natural resources.
PPP leadership enjoys the credit of addressing the long outstanding issue of Balochistan. “President Asif Ali Zardari personally offered apologies to the people of Balochistan for the injustices meted out by the previous regimes and we take pride in initiation of process for restoration of rights for people of Balochistan through Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan.”
The 39-point initiative of constitutional, political, administrative and economic reforms was recently presented in the joint sitting of the Parliament, which has won great applause from all corners of life including the nationalist leadership of the aggrieved province. This has restored the trust of the people of Balochistan in the federation of Pakistan which was eroded by the myopic and arbitrary policies of the past regimes.
The present government has also empowered the people of Gilgit-Baltistan by delegating 61 areas of legislation to the elected representatives of GB legislative assembly and held free, fair and transparent elections participated by all major political parties. This has not only brought blooming democracy to the region rather has also demonstrated that democracy can neutralise parochial and sectarian divides of the society. The present government is not shy of facing the challenges, it has successfully resolved the issue of net hydel profit of NWFP and Gas Development Surcharge (GDS) to Balochistan.
“Our government has already paid Rs10 billion out of total Rs110 billion to NWFP and an amount of Rs120 billion will be paid to Balochistan on GDS.” It is important to note that the issue of GDS was pending since early 60s, which has only now been redressed by the present government.
The president advised to remodel the NFC Award by ensuring equity of resources distribution to all federating units.
The work in this regard is in progress and the NFC Award Committee has already indicated to reverse previously held rigid positions by some provinces and suggesting a structural revision of the NFC formula. The present government had practically demonstrated its credentials to uphold the cause of free media.
It abolished the emergency Pemra Law 2007 and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani is on record of having disallowed the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee regarding retention of some provisions of the 2007 Pemra Ordinance.
The media in the country is the freest ever in its history even the head of state is subjected to rigorous criticism and ridicule by the national media which does not happen even in the most advanced democracies of the world. “Unfortunately, some vested interest are taking undue advantage of the media freedom and trying to mislead the people by confounding facts with fiction,”
The detractors of the government should take a breath and look at the performance of the government objectively and come up with suggestive criticism, which is always welcomed by the people’s government. The government’s resolve to work for consultative, re-conciliatory and futuristic vision of democracy in the country.