Towards a successful state

Published: February 22, 2011

The writer is a PML-Q MNA marvi.memon@tribune.com.pk

As Libya joins Egypt, there is continued talk of revolution and a need for change in Pakistan — ironically, from all those sitting in the power corridors. Whilst traditional politicians might want change to increase their power, the new breed of politicians and the populace want change because they feel Pakistan has a dysfunctional democracy. A democracy where rules are not followed. It is clear that if rules were followed, there would be wealth creation, development and justice for all. It seems that all this hue and cry is for a semblance of functionality of an existing parliamentary democracy versus an overthrow of the same.

Amidst the day-to-day protests and power games of traditional politicians, we are losing sight of the bigger picture. Whilst there is much talk of revolution, there is not enough talk on what needs fixing and how. There needs to be a clear realisation of which state functions need immediate improvement in order to get Pakistan out of the failed states list. These have been eloquently listed by the authors of Fixing Failed States, Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart. The book says that lawmaking is a crucial function of the state. The more clear, transparent and equal the rules are, the better the governance will be. The more internationally tuned the rules, the more globally acceptable the state. The second is that the state needs to establish legitimate control over the use of violence. The third is that administrative control needs to be managed by government professionals who are accountable to the citizenry and recruited transparently.

Sound management of public finances, through which efficient collection and allocation of resources among contending priorities is done, is also a requirement. Another point stresses on the importance of investment in human capital, terming it the key towards the formation of a middle class. The sixth point states that creation of citizenship rights through social policies is critical to stability and prosperity. Citizens must have mutual rights and obligations. Another point adds that provision of adequate infrastructure services is necessary, especially to avoid spatial inequalities and areas of exclusion. Market integration is only possible when infrastructure is seamless. The book also stresses on the formation of markets and the creation of an enabling environment for the market. It says further that management of public assets should be utilised for the collective good as opposed to benefitting only a handful of people. Another factor is that effective public borrowing and not extending public borrowing limits is an important indicator of fiscal strength, domestically and internationally.

When Pakistan can manage all the above tasks in an efficient and coordinated way, then the failed state status can be avoided and the sovereignty gap filled. The change that we are chasing, the revolution that we are dreaming of, needs for all these state functions to work seamlessly for the people. The fix-it team needs to just get this list right in order to deliver a developed Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • AnIndian
    Feb 23, 2011 - 12:19PM

    This is ridiculous Marvi Memon ji. Obviously Equality, Rule-of-Law, Transparency, Prosperity are (and should be) the ultimate objectives of any nation state. But, what is needed from intellectuals, is the suggestion of PRAGMATIC policies to achieve them.

    In today’s Pakistan two things are most necessary but also the most unlikely to happen: one, the removal of power from the tyrannic clutches of military; two, establishment of a more moderate society. So in practice, at least for now, we can set other priorities. What are they? I say, as Gandhi believed: “from the bottom up”.

    LAND REFORMS. For people’s sake, Pakistanis, it’s high time. I repeat. It’s high time. To a considerable extent it has been pursued and implemented in every country in South Asia. Landlords are exploiting Sharia to oppose land re-distribution. The land should be liberated from their hands.
    WOMEN EDUCATION. I am a man who strongly believes: “if you educate a man you educate a person, if you educate a woman you educate a family”.
    REVAMP BUREAUCRATIC SYSTEM. The civil officers of British India were the envy of the world – the efficiency, the functionality. Both in India and Pakistan, it has degenerated into a totally inept and corrupt system. A revamped meritocratic system with total non-interference of Army and Politicians is the need of the hour.
    STRONG POLICE FORCE in the states. Well paid, effectively functioning police will improve law and order on one hand and reduce reliance on the army on the other.
    OMBUDSMAN. The establishment of an independent, powerful, quasi-judiciary institution for dealing with corruption is the only solution against it. India and Pakistan direly needs it.
    REVOKE Frontier Crime Regulations and make FATA into a full pledged province.

    I think these should be the start point of a more comprehensive drawn out process. It is true that “saying is easy doing is difficult”. Yes! But these are achievable policies for the simple truth that they will be Welcomed by the majority of the public.

    Trying to learn about the World as a genuinely interested Student, I take the view that I could study for many many more years and still only see a small part of Her. These suggestions offered come from my humble knowledge about Pakistan,
    AnIndian.Recommend

  • Asim+Ali
    Feb 23, 2011 - 2:22PM

    Providing suggestions is not the solution. As a leader (MNA) you are expected to list 3-5 initiatives which you intend to work on and deliver upon those. The 80 channels of the media and 160 million people can all provide suggestions. You will come a long way, should you profess and deliver upon a single worthwhile initiative. Example is Imran Khan who delivered upon for example the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital. Example are the TCF schools. Example is the social network of Mr. Abdul Sattar Edhi. So what we need are initiatives which can change the fabric of society. Recommend

  • Feb 23, 2011 - 5:18PM
  • Arsalan J. Sheikh
    Feb 23, 2011 - 8:17PM

    Bravo. Well said Marvi.

    @anindian: Snide Indian comments that don’t recognize ground realities are not helpful. A minority of MNAs in Pakistan are now feudal lords. Feudalism today is only dominant in Rural Sindh and Balochistan. The things you listed would all help, but to suggest that they are exclusively what’s needed, and hence to rubbish the ideas of the author is hubris of the highest order. You have still a lot to learn about both Pakistan, and true humility.Recommend

  • AnIndian
    Feb 23, 2011 - 11:55PM

    @Arsalan

    “ground realities”. What about Feudalism in rural Punjab? Do you know that more than 80% of the land still belongs to a tiny fraction of the people? What about the deprivation of a major percentage of the rural people which is the root cause of stagnation of growth and retardation of middle class booming? To suggest that “lack of land reforms” is a minor issue and Pakistan can somehow get away with not doing land reforms is simultaneous ignorance and bigotry.
    “Snide”. Seriously pal, you got to use a dictionary. If an Indian mocks at Pakistan getting US aid or it being a failure state, I would indeed call it derogatory. If you cannot distinguish between a constructive criticism and a slander – you either lack comprehension or possess poor knowledge or probably both. Re-read and point out to me where there is the slightest implication of “exclusivity”.
    It’s people like you supporting a non-sincere, non-dedicated, non-committed government and politicians who are one of the root cause of Pakistan’s suffering. Sorry I forgot to mention this earlier.
    About “humility” – do a reality check bro and get back. You did be none the wiser.

    And, you just gave a testimonial to prove that we south Asians have a severe inclination to “talk about problems” and not “solving”.Recommend

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