Path for progress

Despite the immense difficulties we face at this juncture, there are grounds to feel optimistic

Amin Jan Naim April 12, 2015
The writer is a former ambassador and a B. Sc (Econ) from the London School of Economics & Political Science

In the columns of this newspaper, I had, on March 26, outlined some of the factors that could lead us towards a path for progress. Most of the factors involved are complex and multi-dimensional. They are often inter-related with one another. Some additional aspects that are relevant are mentioned below.

Our country faces centrifugal forces. Therefore, it is necessary and essential for the central government to ensure that its writ prevails everywhere throughout the land. It must firmly control violence on the part of smaller groups.

Then there is the dangerous meddling by some foreign countries in our disturbed areas. Foreign clandestine subversion and covert destabilisation is causing us enormous damage. The grave, externally manipulated challenges have to be met in a strong and determined manner by the nation as a whole.

Internally, we should try to do the best we can with the existing political and constitutional dispensations. Whatever the political and administrative system, its successful functioning depends on the people who comprise it. We have to make do with what we have and try to improve it instead of resorting to radical somersaults from time to time. An uninterrupted process of regular elections and parliamentary democracy would lead to the continuous sifting of peoples and systems for the better. Since we cannot expect angels to run the country, we must foster the political processes of give and take.

Besides a free political process, a country requires a sound administrative structure. The tried and tested administrative framework bequeathed by the British was adapted to our situation and requirements. Therefore, I believe that the erstwhile CSP and the office of the deputy commissioner with full magisterial powers and the police subordinate to it, must be resurrected. It will foster neutrality, impartiality and efficacy in the country’s administration.

The administrative heads of ministries and large state organisations should primarily be generalists instead of specialists. It all depends on the person in question.

Modern education will determine our success in the years to come. Education imparted in state schools needs to be modernised and made effective through the fostering of analytical skills and originality. Modern methods of student assessments and tests should replace rote learning. English as a medium of instruction needs to be encouraged. It is now fast attaining a worldwide status as a means of communication and repository of higher learning.

It is essential that women in Pakistan be enabled to play a significant role in all walks of life. Their education and uplifting would contribute towards raising healthy and well-rounded children, and a progressive society. Half of our total population consists of women. They must no longer remain in ignorance and backwardness. Our armed forces have led by example by giving women regular commissions and even combat roles.

For a healthy future, environmental pollution requires to be curbed on a national, regional and global basis. Together with tackling climate change, this has to be factored into our planning for the future. It would have a crucial bearing on our future.

Religion needs to remain a personal matter. This was the clear cut view of our greatest leader and founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The creed and beliefs of a particular religious sect must not be imposed by force on others. Nor should dissenting beliefs be opposed by inflicting death or violence.Tolerance and humaneness are essential for harmony in the nation.

Pakistan has hitherto faced overwhelming challenges and difficulties. Decades of authoritarian dictatorships have set us back enormously. Yet, a strengthening of democracy, the rule of law and political freedoms would lead us on the path to progress. Despite the immense difficulties we face at this juncture, there are grounds to feel optimistic.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th,  2015.

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