Azam Khalil A sound discretion is not so much indicated by never making a mistake as by never repeating it Bovee The PPP has spent more than half the time it received as a mandate from the people of Pakistan, after the 2008 general elections. While there are a few things that the party can show as far as its policy of reconciliation and consensus building is concerned, i.e. NFC Award and 18th Amendment, there is very little that it can claim to be a good effort to alleviate the sufferings of the poor. So when one hears politicians talk about reshaping the current political agenda, it does not come as a surprise because only by setting new priorities they will be able to face the masses. Indeed, the best way for the party to reshape its agenda is by relinquishing all discretionary powers enjoyed by some top level authorities, including the President, Prime Minister, Governors and Chief Ministers of all the four provinces. If we analyse how these powers have been used in the past and present, it will not be difficult to conclude that they negate the concept of good governance. Often there is a clamour from various quarters that the government should put its foot down on corruption and mismanagement, and introduce measures in public procurement programmes that are transparent. That may also result in a net saving for different government departments. Recently, the whistleblowers (i.e. WikiLeaks) have exposed several scams that have smeared the entire political edifice of Pakistan and have also raised questions as to whether the politicians have matured to the point where we can trust them with governing this difficult country. For this, the government must immediately put rules in place to prohibit its high-level functionaries, including the armed forces, to distribute land amongst the undeserving people. Further, it can seize all the plots that were illegally allocated to such people by successive governments. This will set in motion a process that will automatically reduce or take away the powers of high-ranking officials to distribute official property without valid reasons. At the same time, only the most deserving, like sportsmen or those who lay down their lives in the line of duty, should be rewarded by the government, but only after proper investigation. Once the government decides that no individual or organisation, which does not fall in this category, will receive even a single inch of government land, it will become easier for the leadership to control corruption, including the illegal allocation of government property. Likewise, discretionary funds that have been widely misused in the past, especially by dictators who misruled and plundered the countrys wealth by distributing money at will. Thus, funding elected representatives by the government under the cover of fake developmental projects must be stopped. Transparent procedures should be adopted, which would allow development to take place without any interference that otherwise adversely affects when discretionary funds are unfairly distributed. However, this does not mean that lengthy and cumbersome procedures are adopted that would again retard the initiation or completion of various projects. Hence, procedures may be streamlined so that they are more transparent and also there are in-built safeguards to protect against the wastage and pilferage of government funds. Undoubtedly, such measures will enable the people to have faith in the government. It will also be in the fitness of things, if both the federal and provincial Public Accounts Committees work diligently and are not swayed by political considerations. Perhaps, only then the foundation for good governance can take root in Pakistan. Another aspect where enormous amounts of money are spent is the armed forces, which needs to be monitored properly. While the army may have its own procedures to stop pilferage and misuse of funds, it would be better if its expenses are also given under the purview of the Public Accounts Committee. This will indeed help to streamline the procedures that are followed by the armed forces, besides saving some of the wastages that may ultimately run into huge amounts of money. One hopes that the PPP-leadership will take into confidence all the other major political parties, so that it can reshape its political agenda for Pakistan. It should be known that the only course for Pakistan to move forward remains in establishing institutions that will assist various pillars of the state to function smoothly and within the orbits of law. In case the government moves in this direction it would be doing great service not only for the people of Pakistan, but also for itself, as it will restore the confidence of those who are willing to invest in the country. Also, it would raise the level of trust and confidence of the common man strengthening the credibility of the government. In addition, it would be appropriate if the opposition parties and the media, instead of playing a negative and destructive role, try to focus on a positive and productive aspect that will help Pakistan and its citizens. However, this definitely does not mean that the media should refrain or abdicate its inherent right to expose loopholes and wrongdoings by the government; however, it should only disclose facts after proper investigation and verification. The same holds for the opposition parties, who have an inherent right to criticise the governments policies. But they should refrain from criticising just for the sake of it, as half-baked criticism can harm the basic interest of the country. Therefore, it is truly hoped that Pakistans political leadership will negotiate to reshape the agenda, which will be conducive to take Pakistan forward with its chin up. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com