Pakistan has immense potential for growth and development; from its people to its land. There are vast untapped natural resources that Pakistan can use towards its growth and development and, as stated in Vision 2025, the need to invest in human capital in Pakistan is the only way towards lasting progress.
From time to time, with increasing frequency unfortunately, Pakistan has been tested by natural and manmade disasters. Lagging behind on the development scorecard in the region, we see that the country needs real-time development. Considering the exigency, the government of Pakistan presented Vision 2025 in August 2014 as an emergency bailout plan for fast-track development.
Vision 2025, which is a national development framework, has all the necessary ingredients to trigger economic and social development and needs a concerted effort by all in order to make it a reality. The highlight of the plan is its focus on development of human and social capital to help the people of Pakistan actualise their potential.
However, two years since its launch, the collective commitment towards its implementation is still largely missing. Pursuing a cohesive and collective vision is the fundamental steer to set Pakistan on the path to development and prosperity. We see a growing need for collaborative efforts in which every actor, such as development partners and civil society organisations, inherits and champions the national development priorities. We must align ourselves to the goals set out in Vision 2025 and contribute positively towards transformational change if the plan is to be realised.
International and national development organisations work as partners with the government to create civic space for people to come together and support change. They build key social movements and deliver social action around a common development agenda in order to strengthen civic space for change. They also bring in innovation into community-led initiatives as diverse as agriculture, education, health and human rights to name a few.
For instance, when rural support programmes in Pakistan pioneered community mobilisation on the principles of social guidance, we saw that not only was public consciousness improved but social action was also galvanised in the form of community owned and managed infrastructure schemes.
The only way they can play a meaningful role in the growth and development of Pakistan is if these sectors – and others – are well coordinated and directly complement each other in a way that is both visible to the naked eye and steeped in tradition and culture. We here in Pakistan need to immediately address this issue and bring all the change agents working in Pakistan together in order to synergise our approaches and visions in light of Vision 2025. Each and every one of us can and should play a role in ensuring that Vision 2025 becomes a reality.
In Pakistan, development partners, including Oxfam, have the right mix of resources, outreach and knowledge required to transform communities and society overall into human and social capital. Many development efforts that Oxfam is engaged in across Pakistan already resonate loudly with Vision 2025. This is especially so in the areas of gender equality, women’s economic development, investments in education and social development, interfaith harmony, overcoming inequalities, food security, availability of water, responding to the threats of climate change and skill development.
Millions of people are currently benefitting from these initiatives and interventions. Moreover, Oxfam’s programmes in Pakistan on food security, gender justice, urban poverty and democratic governance are in line with the pillars identified in Vision 2025.
For example, our Food Security Programme undertakes initiatives of wheat value chain governance, climate change adaptations and economic empowerment of farmers and home-based workers. These initiatives are directly contributing to Pillar IV of Vision 2025, which recognises that sufficient, reliable, clean and cost-effective availability of energy, water and food is indispensable to ensure sustainable economic growth and development.
This means complementarities exist at a large scale. The value that can be added is the alignment of the work towards a common goal to ensure best use of resources. If every development initiative taking place in the country is aligned with Vision 2025, a visible difference can be made towards realising the national goals. For instance public, private and non-profit actors can join forces to handle the spectre of climate change and to ensure that the country’s resources and people are treated fairly and equitably.
It is time for us to unleash the power of collaborative networks with deeper engagement between the private sector and civil society in order to address the great inequalities that currently plague Pakistan.
In this way, a vibrant civil society will emerge to benefit all citizens of Pakistan and lead the country towards economic growth, reduced poverty and improved access to basic services – a dignified life.
The writer is the country director of Oxfam in Pakistan.