CERTAIN AREAS NEED IMPROVEMENT ON WAR FOOTINGS

The country lacks strong political and social institutions, which are essentially required for a secured future and sustainable economic and social growth in any society

BY AMANULLAH BASHAR
Aug 14 - 20, 2006

Pakistan celebrated 59th Independence Day since its inception on August 14, 2006, when the country came into being as a separate homeland for the Muslims of the then Indian Sub-continent.

Today, with all good and bad of the past, Pakistan is standing on firm footings in certain areas especially having strong defence capability on the back of its nuclear status and its economic achievements which have built up the image of the country.

Apart from the defence and economic conditions of the country, there are some important areas where improvement is needed on war footings and perhaps these areas are of vital importance for the survival. These areas include our political and social structure.

Despite all efforts of the present regime led by President Musharraf, one may agree or not, the fact remains that it's a one-man show situation in Pakistan. The man behind the scene as well as in front is not other than President Musharraf who steered out the sinking economy of this country from the hot waters.

No one can deny the ground realities that the foreign debt which had strangulated the economic structure of this country to a state where it was not in a position to carry out its debt servicing, what to speak of the debt retirement. Our exports had never touched the mark of $10 billion during 55 years.

It was possible only due to good relations with the West which agreed to allow access to Pakistani products into their markets especially in the European Union and the United States. The economy presents a positive and strong outlook.

The government policies are talking about $40billion exports to be achieved in next five years. Actually Pakistan's exports are on the rise for the last few years, however, the export regime is contributing hardly 12 percent to the GDP which obviously does not represent the actual export potential of this country. The government is thinking in terms of enhancing the export regime contribution to the GDP to a level of at least 15 percent during next five years, which is not a difficult target. The economic powers not only from this region but even from the West are looking towards Pakistan as a business place. As a result of successful privatization policy, except the Pakistan Steel, Pakistan has attained a position where investment giants from Middle East are feeling comfortable to bring their investment in Pakistan.

However, all these economic and political gains have been achieved on the back of better relations with the West and the mastermind behind the political success was the dynamic approach of President Musharraf. Despite all this dynamism the fact remains that this one-man show concept has created a gap in our political system.

It is alarming to note that in case of any change in the government, the country would not have a cover-up political leadership, as our political society has miserably failed to develop strong political and social institutions, which are essentially required for a secured future and sustainable economic and social growth in any society.

It's a harsh reality of the day that not a single political party exists in this country which can claim to be the representative of the people from all corners of Pakistan. Apart from the tall claims made by the political parties, practically speaking most of our political parties lack the national character. These parties either carry provincial, ethnic or sectarian tags and the people of this country are fully aware of this very ugly fact.

Personal or party gains have become the focus of our political forces. In fact people join politics like a commercial organization with an objective to make money. Consequently, majority of the people has no faith in political agenda of different parties due to loss of credibility of these political forces.

The popularity gained by the concept of power devolution to the grassroots level through city and district governments also proves the failure of our political system. Though the black sheep or corrupt elements are still there in the city government system, yet it is for the first time that the funds allocated are being visibly utilized in all corners of the country.

It is not for the first time that development funds have been allocated for the developments, but the corrupt politicians used to enjoy major chunk of these funds for their personal joys and princely living style.

Another important area, which needs to be tackled on top priority, is our education system. Though the present government talks about its agenda of poverty reduction but it has to look into the factors which are not other than ignorance and illiteracy which are basically responsible for generating poverty at a massive scale. Government has allocated a certain fund for reduction of poverty, which include Zakat Fund, Khushhali Fund and other heads under which money is distributed among the poor. These funds should be used for imparting education and training of the poor to address the issue on permanent grounds instead of distributing money which redresses the grievances only on temporary grounds.

OUTLOOK

It is highly important to note that the people of this country would again go to the polls to decide their fate sometime in 2007. Those who love people of this country should use this opportunity by casting their valuable vote only for those who are honest and true Pakistanis irrespective of their political affiliations.