You are here: Home News A futuristic vision of Pakistan

A futuristic vision of Pakistan

Pakistan Today, 22 June 2014 - Today Pakistan, pitched as it is, on the crossroads of its short but eventful national history, is faced with an acute crisis of confidence engulfing the whole ambit of its economic, social and political affairs. Prominent journalists of the world are painting a grim picture of this state of affairs in the country. They say there is a deep rooted internal crisis which has not been addressed so far and which they term as a failure of the indigenous elite class, both civil and military. Civil society is, no doubt, alive to the situation in Pakistan and has a powerful voice through the media, the NGOs and HR groups but they lack coordination and mobilisation. The promise of a new political order enchants the young and old alike. They would welcome any one who is new but promising and has the ability, talent and strength to eradicate corruption and anything that is antithetical to our national interest.

The prospect of a change in the country mainly rests with its youth who form 65% of its population. Some 40 years back one could witness a lot of youthful energy and hope across all segments of the university population. That energy has now dissipated. At the moment, the question before us is “Can we rebuild the people’s Pakistan?” Let us try to reach an answer to this question. For this purpose we should first analyse where do we stand today and then see what could be the possibilities for our venerable State to survive and thrive.

Obviously, Pakistan is stuck up in a quagmire. Our important institutions including major state enterprises are mortally sick and may even collapse if not cured timely. Three state enterprises (Steel Mills, Railways and PIA) are incurring a recurring loss of some 200,000 rupees per minute. Secondly, the ongoing malaise of inflation is gradually sacking the purchasing power of the people. Thirdly, our GDP growth for the past many years has riveted on 3.5 per cent. Fourthly, our tax to GDP ratio of 12.6 per cent is lower than that of Ethiopia. Even our public representatives including the top leadership feel shy of paying s taxes. Fifthly, our debt servicing is equal to 120 per cent of the total federal government revenue. Sixthly, our expenditure on education has been floating between1.5 per cent to 2 per cent. Seventhly, our governance practices envisaging observance of the rule of law, have been rather discreditable. According to Transparency International, our corruption rating during 2011 stands at 134 out of 182 countries. Our national leadership does not inspire any confidence either.

The question now is whether we can rebuild and put Pakistan together in some new order. The answer is: ‘Yes’. But this will be possible only if we could turn our challenges into opportunities. The writer would suggest adoption of the following measures to achieve this goal:

Honest and capable leadership:

It is rather sad but the fact remains that our present leadership has not succeeded to create an atmosphere in which both institutions and the individuals could best realise their potential. We have a vibrant and dynamic society. However, to exploit this God-gifted advantage, we need an exemplary governance system pioneered and executed by a set of God-fearing, talented, self-sacrificing, and highly dedicated leaders assisted by an equally efficient bureaucracy.

Social justice:

There should be an independent judiciary to dispense social and legal justice so that people feel that their basic rights are safe and intact. They should enjoy equal opportunities to work and build up their career. Their fundamental rights of expression, movement and earning of respectable livelihood should be preserved at all costs.

Education:

There should be a unique system of education for all. Syllabi should be devised in such a way that modern education in science and technology as also in vocational subjects be imparted and the moral and ethical values of our society be upheld. At least 5 per cent of GDP should be allocated to education sector and education be made compulsory for all. Financial assistance be given to the poor and incentives be introduced for the talented students.

Economic growth:

Our country is a mineral treasure of sorts and we need to exploit this treasure to protect our economic interest, to reduce our dependence on the debt and finally to stand on our own feet. Agriculture sector has been awfully ignored. Land tillers in the rural areas must needs be supplied electricity, graded seeds, fertilisers, insecticides and weed-killers, all at low rates. Measures should also be taken to provide them transportation facilities from field to market. Industry has had a great set back in the past. It needs round the clock power supply to survive. Good incentives be given to new investors. It will multiply domestic production and provide opportunities of employment to the needy and jobless. Radical measures are required to be taken to beef up the steel mills, railways and PIA.

Health care:

We spend only 2.5 per cent of our GDP on health which is perhaps the lowest in the world. Precisely, only five poverty stricken countries fall behind us. Even India and Sri Lanka are ahead of us with 3.9 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively. It is also deplorable that our physicians’ density is 0.81 per 1,000 persons. According to the World Health Organization it should not be less than 2.3 per 1,000. Another amazing fact is that in our hospitals we have 1 bed for 1,667 persons while in Sri Lanka they have 1 bed for 323 persons. One can imagine as to where do we stand in the domain of healthcare. The authorities must rise to the occasion and give special attention to this prime sector.

Energy sector:

Load shedding has been and is still a major threat to industry and business and an appalling hardship for domestic consumers. Exploration of hydel power and coal is inevitable. Power generation is the need of the hour and must be given priority to help solve the current energy crisis.

Terrorism:

The country has been in the grip of terrorism for the last about three decades. The extremists have no regard for the life and property of innocent people. Bomb blasts, target killings and suicidal attacks have become a normal routine and have created an atmosphere of horror and terror. The business community is constrained to shift its enterprise to the neighbouring countries. In these uncongenial circumstances we cannot expect foreign investment in Pakistan. We have been front line partners of America in her war in Afghanistan having suffered heavy losses of life and property. We have spent more than $85 billion to combat terrorism on our streets and alleys. Can’t we ask America to compensate us by paying off our external debt or else we shall be compelled to review our strategic policy?

Foreign affairs:

Our foreign policy urgently needs restructuring. We should scrutinise the balance sheet of gains and losses in the recent past. We are now in a better position to choose our friends carefully. We have to strengthen our relations with the neighbouring Muslim countries. Policy decisions have to be taken in the best interest of our own country. Bilateral relations be developed with each country on the principle of an equal independent status.

Austerity:

Austerity should begin at the highest level and filter down to the common people. We should observe it particularly with respect to the standard of our food, habitation, transport and life style. At government level non-development expenditure should be minimised. The cabinet needs to be suitably downsized. There should be 15-20 ministers in the federal cabinet and 10-12 at provincial level. Extravagant protocol be withdrawn altogether.

Accountability:

In order to eradicate malpractices, the public representatives and civil servants must declare their assets first at the commencement of their career, and then at the end of every financial year. The declarations of the public representatives should be monitored by the Election Cell and those of civil servants by the service tribunals. Corruption and fraud cases be sent up to accountability courts for speedy disposal.

Police:

The primary duty of maintenance of law and order in the country rests with the police force. It arrests the law breakers, registers cases against them, conducts intensive investigations and presents them before the courts of law for punitive action. Unfortunately, almost 50 per cent of the police force is deployed to give protocol and provide security to the government dignitaries. Moreover the police has outdated arms as also it lacks proper training to tackle the situation. The rate of crime is on the increase which breeds anarchy. The volume of cases of theft, dacoity, kidnapping, burglary, gang rape, robbery etc has shot up enormously.

This would naturally disrupt flow of normal life and hamper the pace of economic activity. The police force, therefore, needs thorough transformation to circumvent all genres of crime. Protocol/security staff should be withdrawn to make up for the shortage of the force. Police should be immunised against political affiliation and made to discharge its duties freely without any external pressure. The force must be fully equipped with modern weaponry, latest operational devices and high speed powerful transport.

A purposeful implementation of the above measures is sure to accelerate the process of rebuilding of Pakistan, our beloved home. We are committed to rekindle the hope of abolishing poverty, unemployment, insecurity, extremism and terrorism in our homeland, in a foreseeable future.

Source: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/06/22/comment/a-futuristic-vision-of-pakistan/

Document Actions