Monday May 27, 2024

Age of progress

These disclosures are alarming as they suggest a pervasive culture in which politicians

By Dr Murtaza Khuhro
February 18, 2024
In this picture taken on January 8, 2022, employees of Taza Transforming Agriculture talk with customers at a call center in Lahore. — AFP
In this picture taken on January 8, 2022, employees of Taza Transforming Agriculture talk with customers at a call center in Lahore. — AFP

The recent disclosure by JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman has shed significant light on the concerning trends of unconstitutional practices within Pakistan. His revelations reveal not just isolated incidents but a systemic problem that illustrates an unconstitutional relationship between the powers that be and political parties in the country.

These disclosures are alarming as they suggest a pervasive culture in which politicians, who are supposed to be the stewards of the country’s democratic values, seem compromised and incapable of maintaining their independence against unconstitutional mandates.

The effects of the dominance of one institutional elite on Pakistan’s democracy are significant. Democracy’s foundation is built on the separation of powers, rule of law, and the sovereignty of the people. Any inappropriate influence from non-civilian bodies undermines these principles, leading to a governance crisis where the authority and legitimacy of elected officials are weakened.

This situation not only casts doubt on the effectiveness of the political process but also diminishes public confidence in the institutions meant to represent and protect the citizens’ interests. The historical backdrop of Pakistan’s governance challenges, rooted in the colonial legacy and the post-independence power vacuum, underscores the complexity of transitioning from colonial administrative setups to a solid democratic political system.

The enduring presence of interventionist policies and the perceived subjugation of political processes to specific institutional preferences trace back to the formative moments of the nation’s founding. Overcoming these entrenched dynamics necessitates a comprehensive and ongoing effort to reform legal frameworks, bolster democratic institutions, and promote a culture of political engagement and accountability. Regarding the proposed future direction, it is important to recognize that traditional analyses and assessments, while informative, may not suffice in addressing the contemporary challenges Pakistan faces. The current era, characterized by the advent of generative artificial intelligence, requires a nuanced understanding of the forces shaping our world.

The current epoch is distinctly marked by the prominence of four fundamental forces, collectively termed the ‘4F’: science, technology, globalization, and the enhancement of human intellectual capacity or brain power development.

This quartet of drivers is propelling a series of rapid transformations across the global landscape, exerting profound impacts on various socio-economic and environmental dimensions. Some of these changes are listed below:

Reduction in production costs and enhanced productivity: Advancements in science and technology, especially in automation, artificial intelligence, and manufacturing technologies, are revolutionizing the way goods are produced. These innovations are leading to significant reductions in production costs while simultaneously enhancing productivity. The utilization of more efficient production techniques and technologies enables the production of goods at lower costs and with fewer resources, which in turn can lead to lower prices for consumers and higher productivity across industries.

Universalization of high-tech education and skill development: The global spread of technology and the emphasis on human intellectual advancement are fostering the universalization of high-tech education and skill development. This is achieved through both traditional educational institutions and online platforms that offer access to quality education regardless of geographical location.

By equipping individuals with high-tech skills and knowledge, societies are better prepared to engage with and contribute to the knowledge-based economy, driving further innovation and development. Potential to address global challenges: These transformative changes have the potential to significantly mitigate common global challenges such as poverty, hunger, disease and the lack of basic human necessities. By enhancing productivity and reducing production costs, goods and services become more accessible and affordable, contributing to the alleviation of poverty. Furthermore, advancements in medical science and technology hold the promise of combating diseases more effectively, improving global health outcomes.

Projections for 2030: The collective impact of these developments suggests a potential reduction in global challenges by 60-70 per cent by the year 2030. This optimistic projection is predicated on the continued advancement and application of science and technology, the further globalization of economies and knowledge and the sustained development of human intellectual capacities. Such progress will not only address immediate socioeconomic and health-related challenges but also lay the groundwork for a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous global society. In Pakistan, the following strategic actions are imperative:

The paramount necessity is to strategically organize political entities that maintain not only a digital connection with their own hierarchy but also forge a robust link with the Pakistani populace at the grassroots level. This initiative aims to foster a democratic ethos, cultivate a culture of transparency, enhance efficiency in their operations, and bolster their capacity to implement effective governance.

It is imperative to recognize that good governance serves as the foundational prerequisite for the economic development of a nation. By prioritizing these elements, political forces can significantly contribute to laying the groundwork for sustainable economic growth and development in Pakistan. The implementation of digitization and digitalization, including the adoption of blockchain technology, to foster transparency, accountability, and efficiency, thereby minimizing corruption is also essential.

The next step deals with the enforcement of proactive disclosure sections in federal and provincial information acts, such as Section 6 in Sindh and Sections 5 and 6 in other legislations. This enforcement will ensure that all government-generated information is accessible to people, potentially requiring the setting up of information commission offices in each district headquarters, if not every town.

The universalization of high-tech education and skill development through the development of a new educational model, replacing the centuries-old system of primary, secondary, college, and university education is also paramount.

With advancements in technology, such as animations, 3D videos, simulations, and extended reality, this transformation is feasible. Achieving this goal necessitates ensuring access to energy, for instance, through solar panels or other means, and providing internet connectivity to every household across the country. These actions are critical in steering Pakistan towards a future where governance is transparent, accountable, and aligned with the democratic aspirations of its people.

The writer is an advocate of the high court and a former civil servant.