Reflections on collective responsibility | Political economics


The accountability apparatus in Pakistan has attracted much attention but achieved relatively little in the way of results. At the individual, collective and institutional levels, this has had disastrous consequences for the well-being of the state and society. We need to ask ourselves some basic questions in this regard.

As a nation, do we understand the importance of accountability? Do citizens show some willingness to hold themselves accountable for their actions? Are rewards and punishments channeled through a reliable accountability system?

With this essential question in mind, let’s look at both sides of the picture. There is a dark, gloomy side and a positive side showing the potential and promise of our future generations.

The term “accountability” covers a number of related ideas relevant to issues of individual and social responsibility, political representation, administrative control and legal responsibility. The principle of accountability attempts to hold a person or an institution accountable for a set of functions. They are held accountable for their achievement to an authority who is able to dispense a reward or punishment. This perspective discerns that, by default, all citizens of Pakistan are responsible for what they do and should accept responsibility for their actions.

The underlying principle surrounding this accountability paradigm ensures that while the masses are grouped into castes, clans, classes and communities, the 220 million of us also function as one entity and are equally responsible for our achievements and failures. nationals. This inclusivity encompasses “the common man” as well as the “elite” classified into military and civil bureaucracy, business magnates, feudal lords, senior magistrates and politicians.

Let’s start with the dark picture: we live in a closed society where thinking is often myopic, asking questions is forbidden and attitudes are archaic; where chaos is normalcy and anarchy is order, damaging public property can be a matter of pride and abuse of power is viewed with admiration.

We urgently need reforms in the country. Unfortunately, many corrupt practices enjoy social license and are considered societal norms; profit is preferred to credibility; and the greed for money is the guiding principle of many lives; civil servants consider themselves masters, politics is a lucrative activity and access to justice depends on its purchasing power; law-making is left to a coterie of selfish and ineffectual politicians; the economy is in the grip of mafias that operate in collusion with the ruling elite.

Are we a nation where people are plentiful but skills are rare? Are research and innovation hard to find but degrees readily available?

Is eloquence in our leaders preferred to substance?

Despite rapid urbanization and the permeation of materialism into the social fabric, we still value our relationships and show integrity and solidarity towards our social responsibilities..

The list is long and the answers represent our macro reality; the situation at the micro level is even worse. The nation is collapsing, but people are blindly pursuing their petty self-interests. They refuse to realize that they are digging their own grave. With such moral standards and social values, can society prosper?

Now let’s look at the positive side of the picture: Pakistanis are essentially a generous and philanthropic people. They contribute a considerable amount of money to charity, relief and welfare. Our history and our culture speaks volumes about our compassion and our big heart towards others. We are naturally cheerful, helpful and complacent.

Most Pakistanis have close-knit families where the elders are treated with respect and reverence and the younger ones with a duty of care and affection. where the institution of marriage is religiously enacted and where strong family ties are deeply cherished; where motherhood is a blessing and fathers are treated as sacred figures; where kinship is intensely celebrated and feelings of love reign supreme in brotherhood.

Despite rapid urbanization and the permeation of materialism into the social fabric, we still value our relationships and show integrity and solidarity towards our social responsibilities. We live in a country where the standards of hospitality are respected; where guests are welcomed with open arms and served with humility and gratitude.

We are a nation where people suffer great misfortunes with more resilience and courage. We are economically poor but inherently happy, sometimes fragile but often gregarious, politically unstable but invariably democratic, technologically backward but capable of working wonders. Our people are victims of poor governance and the impotence of the state apparatus, yet their ability to survive the trials of daily life is incredible. We are a nation where the willingness to sacrifice our lives for a cause is unparalleled in the contemporary world.

The list of physical assets is also promising: abundant natural and mineral resources, enormous agricultural prospects, a large irrigation system, a long coastline, a high proportion of young people in the population, immense tourist potential, a Booming ICTs, rapid infrastructure developments and a vast diaspora across the world.

It is a pity that with such ingenuity and resilience, we are still far behind other countries. Clearly, many socio-economic, geopolitical benefits and demographic dividends can be achieved by behaving smartly and decently as a nation that must be prepared to evolve on the notions of mutual trust, recognition and responsibility.

Pakistan is at the crossroads of challenges and opportunities. The collective awareness of the damage we have caused to this country and the will to hold ourselves accountable are an essential condition for the necessary reforms. Do we want to keep hurting ourselves or are we ready to capitalize on our strengths and put the nation back on the path of progress and development? The right answers can change the odds in our favor. The choice is entirely ours.

The author is a seasoned institutional reform and capacity building professional. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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