ISLAMABAD: Presenting a set of priorities, actionable points and viable solutions in various fields, calling it a proposed ‘national agenda’ for the new managers of the country, experts at the Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad, urged an aggressive anti-corruption crusade for substantial reduction in corruption in the first phase and its ultimate eradication in due course of time.
“It is time we made our contribution to enable the new leadership to squarely face the challenges that comes from the prevailing fivefold crisis of legitimacy, integrity, governance, capability and credibility,” said IPS Chairman, Professor Khurshid Ahmad in his opening remarks at the launch of an anthology of the policy proposals titled Pakistan: Key Policy Imperatives — Agenda before the Nation held on 21 June 2013.
The launch was also addressed by DG-IPS Khalid Rahman and members of its national academic council, Fasih Uddin, former chief economist, Planning Commission, Mirza Hamid Hassan, former secretary water and power, and Brigadier (retd) Said Nazir, security analyst.
Authors of the work, which presents a broad agenda covering constitutional, political and governance issues, national security, foreign policy, Kashmir, economy and well-being, energy, education, and women & society, also include Shamshad A. Khan, fomer secretary foreign affairs, Dr. Anis Ahmad, vice chancellor, Riphah International University, Islamabad and other members of the research faculty at IPS.
“Our failure of governance can be traced to many factors: lack of legitimacy and credibility, failure on the count of rule of law, disregard of the principle of merit, absence of transparency, and wanton violation of standing operational procedures, abuse of power and wealth-aggrandizement for personal ends,” Ahmad observed.
The foremost priority of the new government should be to fix the fundamentals of governance. The nation needs domestic consolidation, politically, economically and socially. Governance must be based on the rule of law, accountability and absolute justice on non-discriminatory basis, he stressed.
He also demanded that the number of ministers, advisors and state ministers should be reduced to the percentage of the legislative body set in the 18th Amendment both at federal and provincial level.
He underlined the need for a paradigm shift in the economy, i.e., an economic path that focuses on growth, human resource development, elimination of corruption, and effective mobilization of domestic resources and also those of the expatriates. He argued that the country’s fiscal system does not conform to principles of federalism. Unless taxes were also decentralized, principles of fiscal responsibility cannot be promoted at all levels, he stated.
He called for key targets to be set for macroeconomic stabilization, as well as the grassroots economic development ensuring social well-being for all members of the society and their active participation in the economic processes.
He was of the view that genuine decentralization without compromising the foundations of federation was one of our existential needs, and called for developing a clear roadmap taking care of the genuine concerns of the federation as well as the provinces, particularly in Baluchistan, in a manner that all stakeholders participate in this effort and ultimately arrive at a consensus.
The aspirations of Pakistani people, youth in particular, if not met may lead to dangerous consequences, he warned.
Mirza Hamid Hasan said that the energy crisis the country was passing through has its roots in four types of issues: policy, governance, efficiency and cost. He said there was hardly any quick-fix in sight and the multi-faceted crisis would require short-term, medium-term and long-term measures as well as some hard policy decisions.
Suggesting short-term measures, he said, resolving the problem of circular debt was essential and suggested creating a Circular Debt Retirement Fund for the purpose. Terming recovery of revenues from public sector organizations as imperative, he said, the ministry of finance should ensure provision of adequate budget to government organizations to pay their electricity bills on time. He stressed prompt implementation of tariffs determined by NEPRA, administrative and technical measures to prevent large-scale electricity theft, and public education in power conservation.
Suggesting medium to long-term measures, he said, early steps should be taken to formulate an integrated and comprehensive energy policy and preference should be given to the formation of a single Ministry of Energy; funds should be arranged on priority for GENCOs in the public sector to repair and refurbish old plants; vigorous and effective measures should be taken for promoting the use of alternative sources of energy; policy shift should be made to correct the energy mix by shifting our focus from oil-based thermal power to hydel; serious efforts should also be made for early development and utilization of the huge Thar coal deposits for power generation.
Hassan also warned against the looming water crisis, which, he said, would be worse than the energy crisis if immediate steps were not taken to build large water reservoirs in the country to increase storage capacity, which at present was only for about a month – one of the lowest amongst the comity of nations in the world.
Said Nazir, presenting his policy brief on security issues, said that the spectrum of threats, the nation was facing today, could only be defeated through collective national will and multidimensional efforts in which the armed forces have a critical role to play, in harmony with other instruments of the state.
He advised that de-escalation in the ‘War on Terror’ by facilitating the occupation forces a safe exit and earning goodwill of all parties involved in the Afghan conflict be given priority. While doing so, a well-thought strategy should be put into motion in order to win the hearts and minds of the people of FATA, he added.
Fasih Uddin proposed a broad consensus vision statement, ‘Developing an Islamic, Just, Equitable, Progressive and Prosperous Nation,’ based on the development perception of the father of the nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, as enunciated in his various statements, i.e., Islamic social justice, wellbeing of masses and poor, justice, fair play, equity, law and order (protection to life, property and religious beliefs), equal opportunities, rights, privileges and obligations for all citizens; unity, faith and discipline; eradication of corruption and nepotism; democracy, human rights and gender equality; moral building, scientific and technical education; and progressive and industrialized state.