ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistan is faced with a crisis of governance at all levels, lack of national consensus on critical issues, and non-adherence to national objectives in policy for­mulation and implementation, according to senior academics and seasoned practitioners.

The experts were speaking at the annual meeting of the Na­tional Academic Council (NAC) of Institute of Policy Stud­ies (IPS), Islamabad. The year­ly gathering is aimed at deliv­ering intellectual input from a cross-section of veteran schol­ars and practitioners to IPS’ re­search activities.

Presided over by IPS’ Chair­man Khalid Rahman, the meet­ing was addressed by Dr Syed Junaid Zaidi, former rector COMSATS; Ambassador (Retd) Shamshad A Khan, former sec­retary, Ministry of Foreign Af­fairs; Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, for­mer federal cabinet secretary; Dr Syed Tahir Hijazi, former vice-chancellor, Muslim Youth University; Dr Waqar Masood Khan, former federal secretary, finance; Dr Anwar-ul-Hasan Gi­lani, former vice chancellor, Uni­versity of Haripur; Mirza Hamid Hasan, former federal secretary, water and power; Ambassador (Retd) Syed Abrar Hussain, vice chairman IPS; Dr Abdul Rauf Rafiqui, director, Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai Shaheed Chair, University of Balochistan; Dr Adnan Sarwar Khan, former dean of social sciences, Univer­sity of Peshawar; Dr Naveed Butt, senior physician at Federal Government Services Hospital; and Dr Noreen Sahar, associate professor and chairperson, De­partment of Anthropology, IIUI.

The speakers highlighted mat­ters of national significance that have negatively influenced the development potential of Pa­kistan and the ins and outs of which need to be unpacked at the intellectual and policy lev­el. The fundamental of these is­sues, as endorsed by almost all the speakers, was the severe deficiency of good governance. The government not only lacks the capability to channel oppor­tunities and manage menaces like floods or politico-economic crises, but also lacks the essence of democracy in its institutional decisions and policy thoughts. 

As pointed out by Sham­shad Khan, foreign dependen­cy and wrong decisions are also a cause of bad governance, en­dangering the sovereignty of the nation in the long run. In ad­dition to these, there is another important factor that is devour­ing the development perspec­tive of Pakistan ie the corrupt people present at the top-tier level of governance.

Khalid Rahman observed that there is a lot of confusion in the society and the nation regard­ing policy. He pointed out that national efforts towards devel­opment and policy discourse are not in the same direction because of many factors. One such factor is resourceful lob­bying that challenges the whole framework of policy and policy­making. In addition to this, for­eign sponsorships also play a considerable role in buying na­tional talent to fulfil ulterior agendas, which should be con­fronted by Pakistan through win-win collaborations.

Non-adherence to national ob­jectives in policy formulation and implementation has resulted in the overlapping of the crisis in Pakistan, which is, at the same time, marred by corruption and nepotism, as indicated by Syed Akif. Noreen Sahar added social networking and nepotism to the main causes that have resulted in blocking national progress. She emphasised the presence of peo­ple selected on the basis of skill and merit in top-tier governance positions. The participants indi­cated the need to work on emerg­ing challenges and developments like climate change, social issues, educational reforms, and techno­logical innovations.

Although the issue of climate change has manifested itself in recent times in the form of dis­asters like floods, there is still a lack of national consensus and awareness about it, noted the speakers. Along with that the country also needs educa­tional reforms and a balanced approach that integrates all lines of education, stated Rauf Rafiqui. Hamid Hassan added that the national politico-eco­nomic crisis and international factors also contribute to chal­lenges. However, this also pre­sents opportunities, which need to be capitalised on with time­ly and right decisions. While ap­preciating IPS’ efforts to pro­mote research on governance, Tahir Hijazi suggested for the institute to interact with the Planning Commission, rele­vant organisations, and univer­sity circles to find solutions to these issues. Adnan Sarwar also pointed out the importance of connecting research work and findings with policymakers to bring about true implementa­tion of national objectives.