The way forward

A clear road map is needed to deliver.

In his televised speech to launch his election campaign Imran Khan (IK) talked about the way forward. The same day, Dr Miftah Ismail, the finan­cial guru of PML-N, talk­ed about the need for structural reforms to deliver change. After 75 years finally, there is a realisation that the prevalent system cannot deliver. The colonial system that we inherited was designed to control, not serve. The enemy has always been within. Today the Islamic Republic of Pakistan finds itself seriously trapped. There is a serious administra­tive collapse. The bureaucracy is totally non-functional. While the judiciary and the armed forces have their own internal account­ability mechanism, the bureau­cracy is totally out of control op­erating under laws of colonial protection. A significant portion of civil litigation emanates from rampant executive abuse. All ef­forts at reforms are seriously blocked by those who control the files and paperwork. Only tech­nocrats can contain the bureau­crats as was done in the seventies through the lateral entry of ex­perts in senior management po­sitions. In the 20th century, bu­reaucrats became obsolete and redundant. Under the 1973 con­stitution, it’s the prerogative of the Prime Minister (PM) to make appointments in Grades 21, and 22. Bhutto appointed several professionals to head ministries. The elected ministers worked closely with the technocrats who had executive authority and to­gether they were able to provide relief to the public. Bureaucracy has failed to provide good gover­nance. The original set of officers realised the importance of free­dom, they provided relief within the system. Once they retired in the mid-eighties, the system re­turned to its old coercive ways

Yes, the overseas Pakistanis are the most vital national resource who can turn Pakistan around but without executive authori­ty they will not be effective. I was appointed Chairman Pakistan Sci­ence Foundation on August 15, 2002, for a period of three years. It was a legislated, term position, the Chairman once appointed, could not be removed. Empow­ered with executive authority I was able to take on the mafia that existed within the organisation.

Abdullah Gul the former Presi­dent of Turkey during his visit to Lahore lamented the lack of change in Pakistan. According to him, they invited their expatriate experts who sat across the table from the local administration to implement reforms. The devil is in implemen­tation, not ideas. Over the years the negative forces are well en­trenched to thwart progress.

Till today the entire officialdom operates/hides under the protec­tion of the Official Secrecy Act of 1923 even though the Right to In­formation Act (RTI) has been en­acted since 2017 at the federal level and in 2013 in KP and Pun­jab. Then there is the Government of India Act of 1935 which is still being followed by the bureaucra­cy even after 50 years of the en­actment of the 1973 constitution. Instead of empowerment, the sys­tem enslaves the masses. Dissent carries serious repercussions. In­deed, the expatriates have played a major role in the development of China and India but such a framework does not exist in the land of the pure.

IK talked about the energy cri­sis. As a nation, we are out of fuel and do not have the means to im­port it. Last year the fuel bill was above $ 20 billion. Food is also be­ing imported. The food and fuel crises have to be resolved. Paki­stan has the potential to be self-sufficient in both these vital ar­eas. Edible oil seeds can be grown on marginal lands. Olive planta­tion has started at a large scale with encouraging results. Tea plantation sites have been iden­tified in AJK and KP where tri­al production has been started which can be expanded to meet our needs. At 175 billion tons the coal reserves in Thar can meet our energy needs. Now that min­ing has started, 2600 MW of pow­er is being generated at a cost of Rs 8 per unit. Black gold can be used to produce gas, fertilisers, diesel and several other chemi­cals. Currently, the gasification of coal is being investigated to pro­duce SNG (Synthetic Natural Gas) which can replace imported LNG (Liquified Natural Gas). A coal-based energy system with 21st-century technologies can resolve our energy crisis.

Mining has great potential as most resources remain untapped. Having worked on all the ma­jor mineral deposits of the coun­try, the challenge is in manage­ment to avoid debacles like Reko Diq and Saindak. State Owned En­terprises (SOE) continue to drain the economy. Under professional management, they can be turned around under a public-private partnership as is being successful­ly practiced at Thar through SEM­EC (Sindh Engro Coal Mining Com­pany). The speech of IK has raised hopes for the nation. A clear road map is needed to deliver. With­out the induction of technocrats in the executive branch no relief will be possible. As a nation, we must achieve self-sufficiency in food and fuel as both are essential ingredi­ents of life. Any attempt to stall the march toward real freedom will be thwarted by the people. IK is lead­ing the charge fearlessly and hon­estly. His march is now unstoppa­ble. Court cases and arrests can no longer deny our freedom. Civilian supremacy through free and fair elections is the need of the hour.

Dr Farid A Malik
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email:

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email:

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