Need to revisit ‘Social Contract’

There exist several theories regarding the origin of state and its purpose, but the most relevant among them is “Social Contract theory”. This theory was promulgated by different political thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke in 17th century and Jean Jacques Rousseau in 18th century with slightly different perspectives, but all agreeing that basically the state was created as a result of the will of people to surrender their authority before a sovereign power having the consent of people on the grounds that the lives and rights of people would be protected.
With the passage of time the nature of the state changed, and people started feeling increasingly essential to have this contract in written form. Modern democratic states had their social contract written in the form of a constitution which could guarantee their liberties and rights in absolute clarity. The constitution hence became the guarantor of rights in all the democratic countries throughout the world.
Pakistan enforced her present constitution on 14th of August 1973 and has made 26 amendments so far. Generally, it guarantees the fundamental rights of its citizens but in fact has failed to deliver them due to certain socio-political phenomenon as well as her chaotically turbulent political history which apparently seems to be unique in Pakistan’s case. The rights guaranteed in the constitution have proved nothing more than theory and the practice seems to suggest the complete opposite of it.
Unfortunately, the state has turned into a commercial entity where the elite class has the opportunity to buy the pleasures the state offers in the form of rights guaranteed in her constitution. Money and political influence are the currency to buy the luxuries of exploiting the law of the land at ones will. The fundamental rights guaranteed to common masses are more or less wild dreams and can only be desired at the cost of one’s life.
The state due to becoming a commercial entity or a corporation seems to have stopped worrying about providing the basic necessities of security to life, healthcare, education, social security, transportation and jobs etc. Everything that is essential to the survival of life has become a private matter of the citizens and the state has laid off almost all her responsibilities towards her citizens. It is no secret that the state is almost nowhere when it comes to the services it has to provide and may be seen everywhere to ask for the responsibilities and obligations of her citizens.
Let’s have a look at the facilities the state is bound to offer under her constitutional obligation of providing fundamental rights. The facility of provision of education to those segments of our society which cannot afford private school education isn’t something worth an appreciation. There are more than 164,000 public sector institutions serving 21.6 million students and we have the world’s second highest number of out-of-school-children (OOSC) with an estimated 22.8 million children aged between 05-16 not attending school, representing 44% of total population
Continued on in this age group.
This is nothing other than utter disappointment at the part of state that despite the constitutional guarantee in the form of Article 25 A of the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan which obligates the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 5-16 years, it badly failed to do so. The healthcare system that the state provides reflects a shameful picture of the lack of seriousness of state.
According to ‘International Journal of Advanced Research and Publications’, only 30% of healthcare is provided by public sector whereas 70% is served by the private sector. What a shame that only 27% of the population benefits from full healthcare which too includes mostly government employees and members of armed forces and the rest of 73% population depends on out of pocket payment. The story of pathetic public transportation sector and lack of social security also reflect a dismal situation of the state disconnectivity from weaker segments of society.
Above everything else, the most shocking truth is that only the rich and powerful enjoy the fruits of liberty and rest of the majority is systematically and technically under slavery. Apart from a negligible percentage or rare cases, the law-making forces are the elite powers belonging to feudalist class or ultra-rich business entrepreneurs sitting in the parliament. The big government organizational heads are paid in millions, the higher hierarchy in bureaucracy and armed forces are paid handsomely. Just imagine that the education minister who heads the education system gets his children educated in private institutions.
All the ministers and almost all high profile and mediocre government officials from all departments get their children admitted in private institutions. Most of them enjoy the perks of sending their children abroad for higher education that too with the pleasures of government money. Same is the case with healthcare system where government officials and their families never get admitted, if sick, they all are privileged to be entertained in costly private hospitals.
The multimillion question is why state as an institution has been labelled sacred and is almost equally revered by the whole world, and of course it should be taken so, but only subject to the purpose for which it was created, i.e. for the provision of fundamental rights promised by the constitution in practical terms. There is a dire need in our society to revisit our social contract in a manner that it lays out a practical mechanism for ensuring equal rights and it should be very clear in its nature to serve the interests of all its citizens. It must be binding according to the renewed social contract that the government officials would compulsorily get their children educated in government institutions only, they would only get treated in government hospitals and travel in government owned transport unless otherwise inevitable.
The new social contract must also envisage the possibility of a mechanism through which it would be prohibited for the government officials, especially the political elite, bureaucracy and security division to get foreign citizenship except in inevitable circumstances. The hiring of civil servants through competitive exams must be based on the expertise of applicants in their relevant degree certification. The feudal elite and ultra-rich business entrepreneurs must be abandoned to become a member of parliament. In short, the long standing and deep-rooted problems like corruption, poverty, the widening class gap, political instability, and economic degradation can only be reformed if the social contract is renewed with more practical measures suitable for our society.

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