Reforming Pakistan

5 min read

As Independence Day approaches, the prevailing enthusiasm seems dampened, and this sentiment holds merit. While it was once a mere probability that Pakistan might not endure, this notion has now entrenched itself as a prevailing belief. Amidst these disheartening circumstances, questions arise: Will Pakistan persevere? Can meaningful reforms rescue the nation? How can these reforms be enacted, and more importantly, by whom? Yet, amidst the pervasive pessimism, there exist glimmers of hope.

The notion that Pakistan is destined to become a failed state is but a fleeting and nearsighted perspective. Instead, it serves as a catalyst for instituting reforms that could enhance the state’s efficacy. The claim of an existential threat to Pakistan’s existence isn’t a mere abstract concept. Present-day Pakistan fares dismally across all indicators of socio-economic development. Corruption runs rampant, religious extremism proliferates, undemocratic forces exert undue influence, the economy falters, governance is in shambles, and a culture of feudalism prevails. The looming specter of failure, however, could be transformed into an opportunity for reform, contingent upon an unwavering commitment from stakeholders.

Addressing the triad challenges of the economy, federational crisis, and governance is paramount. Revitalizing the economy necessitates structural reforms. A linchpin here is comprehensive taxation – a lifeline. Pakistan’s meager 10% tax-to-GDP ratio pales in comparison even to developing nations, let alone middle-income or advanced economies. Hence, a concerted effort toward tax reform, encompassing base expansion and shunning exemptions and rent-seeking, is pivotal. The regressive flat-tax approach must yield to a progressive one. Equally important are indicators like exports, foreign investment, and the current account balance.

Untangling the hydra-headed federational crises that breed regionalism and alienation is imperative. Resource allocation must align with constitutional provisions. If Article 160 poses challenges to vertical resource sharing, leveraging the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for technically adept resolutions is wise.

The void of responsive governance exacerbates the nation’s woes. Basic service delivery – encompassing health, education, and justice – falters. Human rights violations persist, and the criminal justice system founders, also failing to curb informal justice mechanisms like Jirgas and Panchayats.

Addressing institutional imbalance is paramount, necessitating a return of the army to the barracks. As recently stated by departing Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto, a new charter of democracy is vital for credible and effective governance. Genuine democracy hinges on fair elections, participatory culture, independent media, and responsible military involvement.

Ultimately, broad-based political consensus or sheer political will is indispensable for realizing these reforms in substance. Politicians must recognize that alliances with the establishment prove fleeting, subverting democracy and their own political prospects. Simultaneously, the establishment must embrace its constitutional role. If these aforementioned reforms transmute into reality, Pakistan has the potential to emerge not only as a robust polity but also as a progressive nation.

Purazam Pakistan awards distributed in Islamabad

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