Tag Archives: public policy

Addressing the challenges – a short term agenda

Raza Rumi

Strange things are happening. Two months after a natural disaster hit millions of people and created essential prerequisites for an economic meltdown, the focus of Pakistan’s ruling elite — elected and unelected — remains on power politics. As if the utter lack of preparedness to cope with a disaster was not enough, the response to the disaster and its monitoring by a holier than thou media is baffling.

The primal cause of the post floods mismanagement, if were to believe the analysts on prime time TV and opinion piece writers from the press, is the corrupt clique headed by Mr. Zardari. Those with the most religious bent of minds have cited a divine wrath as a cause of this calamity. A few right wing newspapers have even blamed the United States and India to have caused this natural disaster to punish Pakistan for its nuclear weapons. The genesis of such intellectual confusion and distortion of public debate lies in the way the Pakistani mind has evolved into a hydra-headed, paranoid and militarised being. This has been the greatest contribution of the Pakistani state to shape and craft a society that places a premium on nuclear weapons over citizen welfare and which demonises the political process and celebrates religious militancy as a just cause. This is why militarism of a softer variety is back in full force.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan army has done a tremendous job in rescuing people and ensuring that relief efforts are well-executed. However, this is neither unusual nor a matter of surprise as it happens to be an organised institution. But to apply this success in an emergency situation by a force trained to deal with urgent situations onto the domain of national governance brings back the central issue of Pakistan’s statehood: the unresolved and now perhaps a permanent civil-military imbalance. It started with the TV channels eulogising army efforts and creating a binary between the army and the civvies — a half truth and a rhetorical polemic with little substance. This was followed by calls for army intervention by the MQM and its nemesis, Mr Imran Khan. Luckily, for Pakistan the Generals appear to be in no mood to intervene and rock the applecart. Well, at least for now. Continue reading

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Paved With Good Intentions

By Feisal H. Naqvi

Most Pakistanis don’t know what Nepra is, let alone what Nepra does. This is a good thing for the Nepra people because otherwise there would be a mob right now outside their Islamabad offices, complete with pitchforks and burning staves.

What most Pakistanis do know is that their biggest problem (apart from minor issues like rampant inflation, exploding jihadis and imploding cricket teams) is lack of electricity. What most Pakistanis also know is that there is no good reason for us not to have electricity. We have enough coal for the next 500 years and enough hydro-electric potential to meet our current needs three times over. Why then are we stuck in load-shedding land? Continue reading

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Reform or Perish

By Raza Rumi

On the face of it, the Pakistani state with the clear endorsement of political parties and the majority of its citizenry is fighting a battle against militant Islamism. However, it is not as simple a formulation as it appears to be. The state is also cracking under extreme pressure for having lost its capacities and effectiveness a long time ago. The central tenet of state policy and implementation is adhocism that keeps a mammoth, oversized, under-paid and snail-paced elephant going. With Mughal and pre-industrial social structures reflecting in a colonial organisation, the Pakistani state is an unattended patient lying on an Elliotesque table, waiting for a surgery. Continue reading

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