The world is an intricate web of states with the institutions as their key players. Over the evolution of the mankind, the history stands witness to the flow of ideas and concepts from states to states forming institutions on the basis of the very principles and eventually, albeit some of them, making a huge mark in the history. This flow of ideas, and its potency to shape the world also include the concepts of nationalism and liberalism which shook Europe in the late 18th and 19th centuries, and eventually the whole world, courtesy to the philosophy of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes.
Starting off in France as the ‘magnificent’ French Revolution which overthrew the ‘Old Regime’ and spreading the revolutionary concepts to most of the Europe, so much so that historians had to write, “When France sneezes, the rest of Europe catches cold”.
This was the influence of ideas and its adaptation by the fellow states.
To stop the flow of these liberal and nationalist ideas, the European rightists had to unite and devise what is popularly known as the ‘Concert of Europe’ in 1815. These principles of nationalism and liberalism were the cause of many wars, and even the Italian unification in 1861, also called ‘Risorgimento’, and ‘German Unification’ in 1871.
If you leap further back in the history, the Industrial Revolution endorses how the states and their economies prospered due to innovative technological ideas.
The last case in point to endorse the importance of adopting ideas of developed nations is keenly illustrated in the book, Why Nations Fail. The authors, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, argue about the astonishing differences between the two neighbouring cities, Nogales Arizona, USA and Nogales Sonora, Mexica. Both are border cities, to the North is Nogales Arizona and to the South is Nogales Sonora. The two cities are exposed to the same climate, share almost the same geography, but surprisingly different in their healthcare system, economic situation, and social circumstances. The citizens under the administration of the US i.e. Nogales Arizona has higher per capita income, better sanitation, safe security situation and a higher life expectancy due to better healthcare system than Nogales Sonora, which is the victim of the administrative policies of Mexico.
What caused such stark contrasts in the twin cities?
The adoption of different ideas and principles by the US and Mexico led to divergent institutions in both the countries, and hence even till the year 2000, Nogales Sonora is in a state of despair due to its incompetent, rigid and corrupt institutions.
To stop the flow of these liberal and nationalist ideas, the European rightists had to unite and devise what is popularly known as the ‘Concert of Europe’ in 1815.
Pakistan is no more different in this regard. Our history dates back till 1947, and it took us nine years to enforce our own constitution, while our neighbours made one in two years.
As Maleeha Lodhi, a senior bureaucrat, wrote a witty note about the late formulation of constitution in her book Pakistan Beyond The Crisis State. She wrote that our leaders, in the initial years after our independence, got busy in making the national anthem for the country not realising that a country can do much without a national anthem, but not without a constitution. This was the start of our institutional crisis which only got worsened in years to follow.
In its 75 years of brief history, Pakistan has experimented with almost every form of government (except democracy in its true sense). It has been through military regimes in face of martial laws and civil authoritarian regime via Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. There have been positives with respect to our institutional evolution in this tenure of our independence. Plans like National Finance Commission (NFC) award, Single National Curriculum (not implemented yet) and the 18th amendment illustrate the development made by our policy makers for the country.
A point to keep in mind is that relationship between a state and its citizens is only through its constitution to which all the citizens of the nation submit their approval. The constitution, in turn, presides over all the institutions of the country. The major trouble point of the collapse of our country is constitutional mismanagement.
There is a complete disconnect between authority and responsibility in all institutions, which makes the state of affairs more haphazard. Law makers are more interested in executives leaving behind a complete mess of loopholes in the constitution. There needs to be a radical change in terms of our policies for various institutions, and we should learn from the developed, prospering countries because it was the same adoption and learning of ideas from fellow states which eventually ended up forming countries, point in case being Germany and Italy.
There is a great deal to learn, e.g National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of Pakistan can collaborate with Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), which is an anti-corruption department with 100% of scarcely credible results against the illegal activities. It can pave a way for a corruption-free Pakistan – a dream that is 75 years old.
Likewise, we can collaborate with other developed nations to uplift our various intuitions by learning from their policies. This can eventually assist us in identifying maladies and to work out remedies for the pinned problems.