Pakistan has been tiptoeing on the brink of collapse for the past several decades. Generations have been born and lived through this ‘almost collapsing’ state, developing a mindset that the country might not collapse after all; it never does, and if anything, it will eventually prosper out of this brink. The notion has unfortunately fizzled out the urgency to fix our crisis. However, the recent collapse of Afghanistan, Syria, and now Iraq, one after the other, is a testament to our false notions and a wake-up call to all of us.
The bitter truth is that countries do collapse and ours had an initial collapse already in 1971, and it won’t be long before we witness another one if things stay the way they are. Countries may collapse for several reasons, but at the core, it is due to a lack of national vision that provides unity, political stability and the strength to prepare for challenges.
The country for far too long has been without a vision. Even the ones that we had were not realistic, or implementable, and never had a national buy-in. The result? Today, we have serious energy and water crises looming over us that we were not prepared for.
We frequently complain that Pakistan lacks visionary leadership. I believe it’s not the visionary leadership that is important. It is the collective vision — a product of all the stakeholders — that is needed. This country, with its diversity, is in need of a consensus. The politicians and leaders will come and go, but the vision will remain permanent as a rallying point, and an ideal to strive for.
And this is precisely what Pakistan needs at the moment: a road map/destination to look forward to. No country, be it South Korea, Malaysia, India, or even the United States, developed without setting a vision of where it would like to see itself in the next 20, 30 or even 50 years.
In that light, realising the changing dynamics of international politics, and domestic instability, Federal Minister for Planning & Development Ahsan Iqbal embarked upon a programme to develop Vision 2025 for Pakistan. It was strictly agreed by the PML-N government that the vision would be an apolitical document, with a national buy-in from all the political parties.
For that, a conference was hosted by the Planning Commission to invite input from all the stakeholders, including the political parties and the provinces, on the problems faced by Pakistan, their solutions, and how they would like to see Pakistan in the year 2025. With the input from across all sectors, the Vision 2025 team compiled a document, but only this time, it was different: For one, it was drafted through a consensus. Second, it defined the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) targets to keep a track and monitor the outcomes. Third, the vision was made realistic enough and emphasis was laid on its ability to be implemented.
The vision was vetted through experts in each sector for final input and their comments were integrated and taken seriously.
For the first time, Vision 2025 also emphasised the crucial link between peace and development by providing an insight on incorporating peacebuilding assessments into development planning to maximise dividends in terms of enhancing security and stability. The vision also put forth an establishment of a full-fledged Peace and Development Unit at the Planning Commission that will not only raise the awareness on the subject, but also conduct research and assessment studies on peace and stability for policymakers.
Vision 2025 is scheduled to be launched on August 11. Time only has one direction and opportunities don’t come twice. For Pakistan, fortunately, opportunities have come time and again and unfortunately, been missed. Given the volatile situation of the Muslim world and international economic dynamics, this might be Pakistan’s last chance to take off as a country. If we miss this crucial moment to come together, stand united to achieve set targets and a shared vision there might not be another chance. Let’s not play politics with our lives and our future, and for once allow the country to unite for the cause of prosperity under a national Vision.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2014.
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