Saturday May 18, 2024

Tabdeeli or national reforms

By Senator Rehman Malik
August 29, 2018

Social media has now become an integral part of politics and a medium of spreading of facts or misinformation. This tool is sometimes being misused in many ways like creation of hypes and propagandas. Tabdeeli is also a part of hype created in media and it has highly raised the expectations of people. The projection given to Tabdeeli stands tied with our day-to-day social life. The jokes ridiculing Tabdeeli are not appreciable. The change/ Tabdeeli is not new for the people of Pakistan as this word has been used in different ways by many successive governments.

The very first time I heard this word “Change” was from Thailand when I had been in the country as guest of the then prime minister of Thailand during my exile time. In fact this was the beginning of yellow-shirt movement by Thai pressure groups/protestors against Thailand’s prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra that resulted in 2006 military coup in September. In fact, yellow shirt was termed as symbol of Tabdeeli.

The theory of “Change “originated in the mid-1990s as a way of analysing the theories motivating programmes and initiatives working for social and political change through certain well organised movements. In 1990, it emerged at Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change as a means to model and evaluates comprehensive community initiatives. Huey Chen, Peter Rossi, Michael Quinn Patton, and Carol Weiss were the main theorists and practitioners who worked on the idea and applied development in the evaluation field. The idea of Tabdeeli existed but there has to be a proper course of action for Tabdeeli through structural and legal reforms.

The Slogan of Tabdeeli is not new in Pakistan but it is a slogan advocated many time in the past. This idea of Tabdeeli inspired by Thailand was presented by a political party as a slogan of their election through both social and electronic media.

Let us see the previous slogans of the political parties, which were used in the previous elections time to time but no considerable change was noticed and it remained as slogans only:

1. Slogan to change education system but no change/reforms. 2. Slogan of Ehtesab/End of corruption but No Tabdeeli — no change. 3. We changed system from president to parliamentary system but no Tabdeeli. 4.We brought 18th Amendment without any Tabdeeli.

5. We shifted from cars - to cycles but no Tabdeeli. 6. We changed from 1600 cc cars to Suzuki 800cc but no Tabdeeli. 7.We sold all government luxury cars but no Tabdeeli. 8. We launched too many TV channels with freedom of speech but No Tabdeeli.

The political parties in the past played to gallery and unfortunately instead of promoting the system and institutions we fell into individualism and ignored the institutions rather used them to remain glued to the power. We politicians do everything to stay in power. I have closely witnessed many transitions of the governments and I found them getting crippled in the hands of bureaucracy. We get united to grab the power in order to hit our mutual political opponents but we never got together for the collective response required for our national interests and unity. We need to change and reform the laws and policies to bring about real change in the country.

I personally know Imran Khan as well meaning and literate person and let us hope that he comes up to the expectations and high hopes already arisen in the public mind. I pray and hope that he performs right according to the expectations of a common man.

The high hopes from public may meet the same fate as of the past if this subject is not handled by bringing in the required reforms; hence he needs to move with good advisers and with collective efforts. The present government is expected to devise a programme to bring meaningful change to improve the life of the common man. He needs to improve the governance by implementing proper rule of law. He should use accountability as yardstick for effective governance as per the given principles of effective governance by Ibne Khaldoon.

I remember the words of Abraham Lincoln who stated on change: “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.

Our religion has also given teachings on “change” and according to Islam; it can be brought at three different levels: the individual, social and political. As per Islam’s idea of change, the change comes from the “inside” and not from outside by doing cosmetic changes. In Quran Allah says: “Verily, Allah will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness).

Hence, change can never be brought until we work on our inner selves so that it is there forever and not for a specified amount of time. For instance, the cosmetic changes are always temporary as even cosmetic surgery of face is not a permanent Tabdeeli in the face. The states need continued reforms and to avoid ad hoc changes in the system.

Let us go for real changes and not the cosmetic options. The change is required immediately in the following main areas in Pakistan:

Economy, foreign relations, national security, education, electoral system, political system and devaluation of rupee.

Mr prime minister, if you bring qualitative reforms in the above-mentioned areas, the people will start feeling the Tabdeeli. I propose the following to be done:

Economic reforms: For economic reforms and debt retiring programme, use the Turkish economic model as the Turkish economy has been defined by the IMF as an emerging market economy as well as one of the world's newly industrialised countries.

The model Tayyip Erdogan used to boost the economy of Turkey must be followed as, in his first year of government, he ended "State of Emergency" (Olaganustu Hal) in East of Turkey in 2001. This increased the investments to the East, inflation rate decreased to around 7-10% that decreased interest rates and this boosted consumption in all manners and credit cards and consumer loans became available for the masses. Long term credits like mortgage and mortgage system became available after 2005-2006 and this helped people to build better houses, accumulations in treasury (dollar, gold) increased by 4 times. Long-term international credits became available, as before Erdogan Turkey was craving IMF for 1-2 billion dollar with high interest rates. Today, Turkey can borrow money for 30 years of payback. IMF offered 40 billion dollars in 2011 but Turkey rejected it.

Effective Governance and police system: For effective governance and appropriate police reforms, our government needs to follow partly Singaporean model of governance and police system. The most effective system of policing and governance is of Singapore where the crime rate is almost zero. We can pick the best part of it. We need extra ordinary police reforms for better rule of law.

Health care: For improvement in health and care, the government must use UK’s model of National Health services. It is a state-funded system called the National Health Service, or NHS, which guarantees care and services for all patients, whether rich or poor. That means everything free from ambulance rides to emergency room visits to long hospital stays, complex surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. In addition, any medication you get during a hospital stay is free, and the costs of most prescription drugs at a pharmacy are cheap.

Agriculture and farming: To make Pakistan green our government must use Philippine’s model of agriculture and farming. Women’s participation in agriculture and farming, like in Philippines, would help boosting women’s potential of farming and agriculture. We can copy their canal irrigation system.

Education: For quality education and increasing literacy rate in all four provinces of the country, the government must follow the Australian system of education as it is considered the best in the world. The cost of transport, living and tuition expenses is comparatively low in Australia than US and UK, which makes it easier for students to get higher education and become graduates.

Energy production: We have rich resources of water and we can opt for hydropower and production model of Tajikistan. Tajikistan is producing maximum power from a single river by constructing multiple hydro power stations. It will be cheaper to produce. Small dams with mini hydro plants are other option.

The government needs to bring well-drafted foreign policy to the joint Parliament session.

The government also needs to bring well-drafted National Security Plan with the help of provincial governments to the joint Parliament session.

Industrialization: Government must follow Chinese model of Industrialisation. China achieved its spectacular economic growth with massive government spending in industrial sector. The Chinese government ownership allowed China to direct the companies to high-priority projects. The other major factor of Chinese industrial growth is that The People's Bank of China, the nation's central bank, tightly controls the Yuan to dollar value. It does this to manage the prices of exports to the United States. It wants Chinese products to be a little cheaper than those produced in America.

The government must expand tax base by more easy and doable tax reforms, which should be pragmatic.

A task force consisting of all the chief ministers headed by PM for implementation of above reforms should be formed, as the major implementation of law & order and development is the responsibility of provincial government.

My final advice is to bring desired national reforms for a common man and Tabdeeli will automatically find its way in the public.

The writer is chairman of think tank "global eye" & former interior minister of Pakistan. @Email:, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik, @GlobalEye_GSA, WhatsApp +923325559393