Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Electricity crisis and the fundamental rights

For the last 62 years we the ordinary people of this country have been, and are still being, COERCED in the worst possible and worst imaginable manner by the elite and ruling classes of Pakistan. Take just one example that faces us at the moment: how we the common people are living day and night without electricity under 45 degree centigrade summer heat!

No doubt words are deficient in describing the helplessness which has become the fate of millions of us the wretched of this land. One cannot sleep, and take rest. One cannot read, write and work. Or attend to his affairs and jobs. One cannot see to his daily chores, household tasks, and other routine matters. It must be noted here that it is not just electricity that goes out of the social existence; it takes water supply too along with it. Both are organically and inseparably linked, we know. Thus, one is forced not to do anything but wait in vain for the electricity supply make a come back to disappear again in the next one and half hours or so. That means we have been deprived of a life of our choice!

As the electricity black-outs are not prone to any pre-determined schedule, let alone an announced one or the one we learned as the electricity hide and seek game was played on us say in the last weeks, we have been forced to live in a Guantanamo Bay of uncertainty with fear like a sword looming both over our heads and minds when comes the next moment of no-electricity. But certainly it is out of place to use the metaphor of Guantanamo Bay here, since who were kept there presumably had a firm commitment, no matter how un-ethical and wrong it was, that gave them strength to bear the torture. Have we the hapless of this elitist state any rationale or justification or reason that will give us strength to bear the torture that the more than frequent disappearances of electricity bring upon us? Rather have been bringing upon us for the last many months?

Also, it is quite relevant here to highlight the fact how this “ELECTRICITY PERSECUTION” has affected and is affecting our life in myriad of ways such as economically, socially, morally, psychologically to name only a few larger domains of our existence. Economic effects are a matter of daily reports in the newspapers, websites, TV news reports and talk shows. How economic failures are causing social unrest and how social life of the people is being disfigured by the recurring unavailability of electricity is not a matter of conjecture. It is happening before our eyes.

Usually when all the positive norms that keep a society intact and smoothly sailing lose their raison d’etre, it allows personal norms exclusively rule the moral world. Two points may explain the proposition. One, when the privileged parasite elites make hay by turning their clout into a norm such as General Musharraf got electricity at concessional tariff and there are other umpteen such cases, it imparts learning to us the un-privileged crowd how to live in a world without rules. Even if we the crowd do not resort to unruly economic, social, moral, psychological behavior though sometimes we do, we feel depressed to the core of our deepest selves and what is more dangerous is that our trust in the system, nation and country evaporates in the air.

Two, what is the essence of our world and what is the greatest moral learning in our world of ‘give and take,’ mutual trust, and as Economics is defined as the study of how best we fulfill each others’ needs, in that sense that learning may be worded thus: we should not steal but pay for whatever we take from others. In other words, when voluntary exchange of goods and services take place both or all the parties involved should benefit. This entails that when we have got money and need to buy something to make our lives easier and happier, there should not come anything in between that stops us from fulfilling that need of ours.

However, under the present circumstances, what prevails in Pakistan is far from being so. We shall come back to this point after a while and then stay a bit on that. Before that, psychological effects of electricity-lessness must be given due weight. How all the economic, social and moral effects combined in one including the abnormal acts of the privileged parasite classes (such as the provision of cheaper electricity to General Musharraf, and in these times of acute electricity shortages uninterrupted electricity supply to all those who are in and around the parasite ruling elites) act on the psyche of us is though a subject for specialized researchers, but is not beyond ordinary comprehension that it has aggravated the already persisting sense of deprivation in addition to the solidifying sense of injustice and helplessness.

What is more immoral, anti-social, anti-human than the fact that we the people are ready to purchase electricity at any rates, but there is no one who could sell electricity to us but the government which has no electricity to sell and which has but little electricity to sell and that too at monopoly rates. All this is trying us the lowly citizens of this elitist country to transform into neurotic and psychotic beings.

It is just unimaginable at least in this world of ours that a commodity is increasingly in demand but is not available in Pakistan. It is diametrically against the spirit of both market and entrepreneurship. Certainly, because the electricity generation and distribution sector has throughout been completely in the hands of government and more or less is still monopolized by it. Isn’t it enough to show how this sector presents the most dismal picture of a perfectly distorted market? Also, how this monopolization has destroyed the spirit of entrepreneurship in this sector is evident from the KESC’s privatization. It is despite the incontrovertible fact that monopolies remain monopolies even if they change hands that run them.    

No doubt, the immediate solution to this crisis is to free the electricity generation and distribution market from the government clutches, and at the same time to open it for all investment be it domestic or foreign, small or large. This should make allowance for the government’s role only to the extent of enforcing contracts, which it never did in its own case where WAPDA, PEPCO, and DISCOs and their pseudo-regulator NEPRA always acted and act unilaterally. In their contracts, second party has no rights.  

But this is not the mainstay of this article. The argument that this article wants to make is that how by killing the electricity generation and distribution market the government or the parasite ruling classes have played havoc with the life of its citizens and thus with their fundamental rights also. In other words, how by monopolizing the electricity generation and distribution sector, and thus by forcing the market players out from this sector, how the government and parasite ruling classes completely annihilated the freedom of choice of the people to live a life of their liking, i.e. purchasing and using commodities as they wished and needed and here in this case it means purchasing the electricity.

Have a cursory look at the constitution. What has been stated in the Article 4 and in its Part II ‘Fundamental Rights and Principles of Policy,’ especially Article 8 (Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of Fundamental Rights to be void), 14 (Inviolability of dignity of man, etc.), 15 (Freedom of movement, etc.), 16 (Freedom of assembly.), 18 (Freedom of trade, business or profession.), 19 (Freedom of speech, etc.), and 25 (Equality of citizens.) has never been given due attention by any state institution, but now it is expected that the new Supreme Court will be paying proper heed to it. All these articles of the 1973 constitution if read and interpreted in unison amount to crystallizing the most prized human freedom, freedom of choice! Also, if not directly, they by implication mean the same thing.

Hence, it is a matter of little argumentation how the successive governments of the parasite classes of Pakistan by strangulating the electricity generation and distribution market have affected the life of us the people, not only the quality of life but our very right to live with dignity and choice. Although there are other so many sectors where we have no freedom of choice, but it is especially in this sector that government’s monopolization has resulted in making our life utterly miserable and that to the worst level so much so that we are under the constant threat of becoming psychic patients.

Now when the sporadic electricity 'riots’ are waging almost in all parts of the country, isn’t it high time to raise the question whether all that mess of electricity-lessness which came to be created by the government’s monopolistic policies is not tantamount to utter violation of fundamental rights of us the ordinary citizens of Pakistan? Who will take up this question? Who will answer this question? What is the proper forum to bring this question to the notice of?

Indeed, the way the parasite ruling classes of Pakistan have coerced us the forsaken people of this exclusively elitist country and buried us under the worst suffering day and night is unparalleled in the history of democratic world. Never the freedom of choice of us the ordinary people was so wiped-out, and our life made so desperate! Isn’t it time that all those who brought us the Pakistanis to this state of hapless and helpless life must be indicted and brought to book? They must be made to pay for their anti-people deeds.

And, isn’t it time that as an immediate way out of this inhuman predicament electricity generation and distribution sector be free and opened, and market players be allowed to meet the electricity needs of the citizens of this land under the rule of law? That needs a forum which will see to this diligently and restore the spirit of fundamental rights of the citizens in its truest sense and will enable them to exercise their freedom of choice! Let’s see who takes up this and how?!

[This article was completed on July 20, 2009.]

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