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Pakistan, planning, metros and Nawaz Sharif


July 18, 2015

It has been a turbulent run for Nawaz Sharif’s government. The dream team which was set to change the destiny of Pakistan and make us roar like an “Asian Tiger” again barely seems to be holding on to its own legitimacy. The Prime Minister who with his experience and capability was to set Pakistan on newer and stronger foundations of democracy and development has allowed us to be pushed back to the 1980s and 1990s. Where did it all go wrong or go right?
The truth is that we have never really had a planned or structured governance model or government term as long as we have existed. Dictators have come to power and so have elected Prime Ministers, they knew how to get there, but most of them gave little thought to what they would do once they had. Power was the end not a means to any other end. If there ever was one it was never beyond personal gain in terms of position and wealth.
The fight for personal survival and maintaining a barely functional governance structure takes precedence over any reform or idea of where the country should be headed and how to get there. But, let’s stop stating the obvious. Let’s stop stating that Nawaz Sharif said that he had the only team which had a proper plan in place to uplift Pakistan. Let’s stop stating that immediately after coming to power he took the infamous “u-turn” by saying that we need to understand our problems first. Let’s forget the same happened for Imran Khan in KPK. Let’s forget that Zardari and Co. didn’t even bother to say anything about development.
Where does this leave us? As a country of 200 million people (a number whose accuracy too has no bases whatsoever) where and what will be the future of Pakistan? The truth is no one really knows and no one has ever bothered to make a roadmap for Pakistan. Perhaps because no one thinks they will ever be in power for long anyway. So what is the point of even thinking of a long term national plan anyway. Short term solutions for short

and uncertain government tenures.
There is not one but many Pakistans in Pakistan. Elite Pakistan, working class Pakistan, educated Pakistan, illiterate Pakistan, ruling class Pakistan, ruled Pakistan, irrelevant Pakistan, poor Pakistan, rich Pakistan and the list goes on and on. Not to discount or speak against any sense of unity we do have, such as the one when we win the cricket match. The question remains where does one even start to fix the problems faced by Pakistan and Pakistanis as a whole?
What future can we promise all Pakistanis not on the basis of where they come from or what family they were born in? What future can we promise them which will give them the ability to reach their fullest potential and fulfill their own dreams?
So that is perhaps one of the end goals. But how do we even begin to get there? Starting small is the key. Small goals for ourselves on the path to larger more substantive goals. We must all accept that we can’t end load shedding in one day. We can’t redistribute wealth in one day. We can’t fix education and healthcare in one day. We can’t do all of this even in one government’s term. You can’t undo 68 years worth of bad decisions and ill planning in one day. Not to say that redeeming things didn’t happen during the 68 years but the bigger picture has been unfortunately gloomy.
We need to have areas of focus and national benchmarks that all governments must look towards. Education, health, economy, security and growth goals can help us reach workable benchmarks. If I were in Nawaz Sharif’s shoes I would set realistic targets that would impact the country not necessarily in the short terms but also in the long terms. Of course one can continue making the bigger projects that sell well to the voters. However, metro’s shouldn’t come at the expense of longer more strategic planning and delivery.
With a little less than three years to go Prime Minister, will we see evolution in governance under your reign or will we continue to see a hotchpotch of policies and projects, often self-conflicting. Will we see you taking the lead from the front or will we see a maintenance of the status quo where survival will be the only priority. Mr. Prime Minister I leave it to you.
The writer is a columnist and General Manager Innovation and Strategy for Jang Media Group. He can be reached on Facebook Twitter @am_nawazish and email [email protected]

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