LAHORE: Mistakes were committed by the past regime as well as by the present ruling elite. This is the time for engagement and not to enter into heated debates just to shift the blame of the current debacle on others.
Pakistan is paying the price of its selfish leaders who always keep their ego above the national interest. Every government that ever rules this country committed numerous blunders.
For instance no government has ever taken the issue of ballooning population seriously. Had our governments been as committed as the Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi governments, we would be adding 1.5 percent annual GDP growth.
If we grow by 5 percent per annum, the real growth is 2.5 percent because our population increases by 2.5 percent annually. For Sri Lanka, 5 percent growth means 4.2 percent as its population grows by 0.8 percent. It is 4 percent for India and Bangladesh.
Our political leadership failed across the board in improving the health indicators of the country. We have the lowest life expectancy, highest infant mortality rates in the region.
Our political leadership failed to convince the citizens to get polio drops for their children, with the result that we are one of the two or three countries that are not polio free.
Our literacy rate (meaningful literacy that enables a person to learn modern skills) is pathetically low. None of the governments that have led Pakistan have done anything in this regard. Our vocational training budgets are shamefully lower than our regional economies.
Our political leadership without any exception has used the public sector enterprises as avenues to provide jobs to their party workers without merit. It is no surprise that the loss-making giants like Railways, PIA and Pakistan Steel Mills are still in government control as privatisation would make their workers (of each party that ruled the country) jobless.
Even the regulatory posts are filled with favorites of the government of the day. They may be competent in their field, but there might be more competent persons whho are ignored because of their independence and strict professional attitude.
Our political leadership without exception tinkers with postings and transfer of bureaucrats that is none of their business. This has divided the bureaucracy into several groups. Each group is the favorite of one political party.
Whenever any party forms the government, one can easily predict which bureaucrats they would choose and which would be made officers on special duty. How can the country operate smoothly with truncated bureaucracy?
The favoritism has gone down to the level of station house officers in police and sub divisional officers in the power sector. Each government gets its legal or illegal work done through these favourites, who are destined to become OSDs when the opposing party assumes charge.
The debate must not be on who harmed the economy, but on how to cure the ills in the system so that no one in future dares to play with it.
The debate should center on ways to cut expenses and ways to eliminate political interference in government affairs. The points of discussion should be the measures that bring all incomes in the tax net.
There must be no exceptions. Everyone without exception must pay the same tax on the income that is paid by all others. There must be no waivers on import of vehicles or other items for anyone. They may debate these issues on national television so that the public is a witness.
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