Friday, June 4, 2010

New Book: Pakistan's Development Challenges: federalism, security and governance.

Pakistan's Development Challenges: federalism, security and governance.

(Post by Meherzaidi)

Akhtar Ali has previously written "The Political Economy of Pakistan: an agenda for reforms and restructuring". (1996). In this he discussed the developmental and governance challenges facing Pakistan such as Political and constitutonal reform, administarative reform, restructuring agriculture and political power, building and financing infrastructure, Industralization strategy and dilemmas, promoting science and technology and restructuring R&D, the political economy of national security, employment and labour policy initiatives , freedom of information. many of his ideas have seen the light of the day, but a lot of work has to be done on continued basis and many more new challenges have to be faced, understood and tackled in a most proactive model. In his book "Nuclear politics & the challenges of governance "(post nuclear explosions in 1998) he discusses the issues facing Pakistan at the time such as the nuclear politics eg., CTBT, the conduct of an on-site inspection, the case for de-linking from Indian policies, Chinese attitude, The Kashmir question, "the dangers of Islamic bomb", Nuclear deterrance and defence spending, the case of confidence building regime, International package, a multipronged strategy. In this book he gave measures to re-organise and revitalise the economy and society, discussed the decentralisation and devolution of power to provincial and local governments, improving governance by institutional and constitutional reforms and formation of economic and social council. A comparison of electoral manifestos at the time of the political parties gave an idea of the political will and understanding of the development challenges by some major political parties.
In his latest book "Pakistan's development challenges: federalism,security and governance" he further discusses the immense challenges Pakistan faces today and presents a reasonable and doable agenda for development and progress. In his own words,
"Federalism, security and governance are three major issues faced by Pakistan’s development prospects. It is in the framework and space provided by these three elements, that the economic development is to take place in Pakistan. Federalism and security put demands on development which generate demand for governance, that is to say good governance. The pace of development is tempered by the balance of demand and supplies of the three. Demands of federalism may not permit certain economic efficiencies and optimalities to operate, while external security requirements may divest a disproportionate and unaffordable portion of resources to militarization and the lack of internal security may discourage local and foreign investment. An inadequate governance response may further deteriorate the impact of the two or better governance ameliorates the effect of the two. Development itself creates challenges for governance in many forms. Governance can and has to balance all towards an economic and social optimum.
Governance can deteriorate security divisions into a military organization that is cruel, insensitive, oppressive, and predatory, while reverse is also possible by boosting social and economic multiplier through a civil-military partnership through indigenization, creation and promotion of social sector in far off areas.
Social and economic problems are the main problems and remain as such, irrespective of military or civilian governments. Dictators manage to bring short term improvement through sheer coercive power, often putting to use, unutilized production capacity. Military rule is often endowed with stability and peace of mind that is often denied to civilian rule. Let us, this time, give some peace of mind to the new civilian government of PPP. Fortunately PML-N has acted wisely, because their suffering at the hands of military dictator in the immediate past. However more peace and harmony is required in the light of myriad of new problems.
Policy prescriptions are abundantly available. Some may require change of emphasis, such as the previous government’s profligacy on higher education etc. There are few options, but hard choices. Solutions can be found only in national consensus including the military. It is unfortunate but they are to be on board if a major policy break-through is to be made; be it vis-à-vis India or reducing military expenditure. The main theme of this book is to define and elaborate on some selected problems, and draw the attention of all, that without a major departure resulting in enhancement of social sector investments, problems would continue to multiply. Politics is the art of the possible. The two major parties have to play a role in building the consensus that is so vitally needed but also because of the fact that the next government would also be facing the same issue.
There are four themes of this book or six areas where reform and initiatives need to be taken. These are;Economic development,Federalism andProvincial autonomy,Governance &Security.
In some ways, this book may please nationalist leaders as well as annoy them, for it argues for doing justice with smaller provinces especially Baluchistan in particular with reference to income generated from the utilization of natural and mineral resources. But it also advises them not to see too much into the natural resources and exaggerate the political issues to an abrasive secessionist tone. Without Pakistan, Baluchistan, it is prognosticated by the author, would be a lazy colony of foreign interests, yielding nothing much for the real development of its populace, as can be seen from the plight of the resource rich countries of Africa and Latin America. Within Pakistan, and in solidarity with their brothers in other provinces, they have a bright future and potential not withstanding the current problems and difficulties.
Similarly super-patriots may not like my suggestions for a dialogue on reduction of military expenditure, but would feel reassured by my denunciation of Indian policies and wishful thinking of building an empire in the region forcing other countries to direct precious resources in countering the real or perceived or both kinds of threats.
Politicians would like my advice of strengthening political parties and financial support from public resources and they may equally dislike my sermons and advice on bringing true democracy in their own parties.
Fortunately democracy has returned and dictatorial rule is gone, hopefully forever, but a continuous threat for its return persists. Military in this country goes away when it is unbearable, lets democratic rule return while waiting in ambush to come back once again, on one pretext or the other.
Tall claims of salvaging the country are made, but in essence more problems are created. It is ironic that growth rates in the economy have been consistently higher during military rule, than during civilian rule, partly legitimizing the former, in the eyes of many, if not all. Why does this happen? This must be investigated and answered.
“Development Commissioners” in the districts, being representative of provincial governments in a coordinator capacity. The acronym DC, that sweet bygone era, should be of some consolation for some.
It is disturbing to note that most of our political parties have shown anti-local government behavior. They somehow consider local governments and Nazims as competitors and even a threat, and an un-necessary impediment towards their direct contact with the people and local government affairs. They have even shown a preference for a subservient Deputy Commissioner than an elected Nazim, who could have been from their own party. Adjustments and changes are a fact of life, but an obvious antagonism is really deplorable.
Compromise is essence of democracy and governments normally in our societies which under the load of history of misrule, are polarized, and usually dislike compromise. They call it a “deal”. Deals are essential, if one has more form and there is no fundamental truth, justifying rigidity. A compromise could have prevented Pakistan’s dismemberment and another could have saved democracy and life of a former PM of Pakistan. Compromise and flexibility is, however required among political forces and not a conspiracy with rival military forces encouraging them to march in as it happened in 1977.
A compromise in 1988, enabled democracy to return, after the fateful demise of General Ziaulhaque, and another compromise of 2006-2007, enabled the two former prime-ministers to return, and paved the way for return of democracy and civilian rules.
Compromise of Hudaibiya enabled prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to open up Makkah for Muslims and eventually culminated in victory. A compromise in 1998, after 9/11 tragedy, saved Pakistan form possible US attack, and a lack of concessions by Saddam Hussain resulted in invasion and occupation of Iraq. Lack of compromise among Sunni, Shia and Kurd factions would again result in catastrophe and destruction of Iraq again.
A historical compromise of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, led to the creation of the Pakistan, or the British may have hastily run away resulting in continued mayhem and bloodshed and eventual emergence of “Akhand Bharat” A lack of compromise among the two parties PPP and PML (N) may even result in the return of military rule, while another lack of compromise among PML factions may guarantee permanent winning of elections by PPP. A lack of compromise by India and Pakistan on Kashmir issue, one day may result in a nuclear catastrophe, and a settlement may usher into a new era of cooperation and reconciliation.
Corruption & Idealism
Freedom has many aspects and meanings to it. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto wrote his most influential book, “The Myth of Independence”, in late sixties, in which he exposed the myth that we are a free, independent nation and decried the role of foreign powers in the affairs of small and poor countries of the third world. What he essentially said that it is a myth, that we are free or independent. We are neither free nor independent as we shall see later in this chapter.
Despite democracy, we are not amongst one of the 89 countries which have been declared Free. Those who think that conditions in Pakistan and India are the same, may be hurt by knowing that India has always been grouped under “Free” countries with high ratings on political rights and civil liberties. We are reproducing comparative trend of freedom data for several countries, in which mirror one could see his image. No wonder the issue of missing persons could not be adequately handled, even by current Supreme Court, the most independent ever of judiciary in Pakistan and is continuously applying pressure to grapple with the issue. In fact, one of the “sins” of Iftikhar Chaudry, the chief justice, has been his “principled and hard’ stance on the missing persons and the role of intelligence agencies. It does not, however, mean that intelligence agencies cannot peruse and perform their genuine professional work in a Free and democratic system.
Fortunately, after the elections in 2008 and assumption of office by a democratically elected government, Pakistan has been classified as a “partly free county”, by Freedom House.
In Chapter 17: Democracy and Political Parties, we discuss the proposal on funding political parties, if not to support politicians. Most countries, except South Asia, have some kind of funding scheme to aid political parties or give financial support to electoral contestants.
Millennium Development Goals Can be Good Manifesto.
Political parties seem to be at a loss to give a viable programme and rally people around them. Television anchors blame the present government that there is no sense of direction or agenda. Millennium Development Goals (MDG) can offer this required sense of direction.
It would be highly visible and give a visible sense of direction, which people (including television commentators and anchors) desire. It is obvious that no government would dislike the idea of improvement in the living conditions of its people. But unlike political parties, a government has to survive first; survival is its first objective. Their major constraint is the requirement of continuity, and the inertia of the past. With the exception of revolutions, governments have to cater to the demands of more powerful sectors of the society, which manage to galvanize popular support around their sector and interests. All heads of states gathered at UN General Assembly in the year 2000 and agreed to these goals. These goals were, to improve human conditions in developing countries by measurable amounts in a definite time frame i.e., by 2015. These goals are about reducing poverty and hunger, improving access to education and reducing illiteracy, improving health conditions, access to safe water and sanitation etc. Most developing countries have agreed to work for achievements of these goals and targets including Pakistan. Ten years have gone by, only five more years are left, and we are now hearing to be able to achieve these goals. Certainly as it appears from the data, the time frame may have to be extended, perhaps to 2020. These goals and targets are quite practical and the need of the hour. All development should finally end up in improving human conditions; direct or indirect and the so called trickle down effect.
MDGs have the backing of the international community, and quite some technical and financial assistance is available through MDG mechanism. All that is needed is the political will, appropriate resource allocation and mobilization of people, common man and the state power. Without these elements, MDGs would not be achieved. The non-achievement of goals has been for the lack of these elements in the required amount.
One would have hoped that with the adoption of MDG goals and targets, as state commitment, things would improve by 2015, No way. Recent MDG monitoring report of UN is pessimist about our achieving any target at all except on HIV/AIDS. Investments in social sector are required. Words and glib talk or glossy reports do not help. Commitment must be backed by investment, without which not much can be achieved. No increase in allocations to education and health has been made. Recent PRSP-2 report predicts a shortfall of 5 billion US$ in social sector investment, for achieving MDG targets. The plain fact is that allocations plan for PRSP-2 would not be made, not to talk of more ambitious MDG.
If we keep making our budgets as usual, any achievement in the MDG, if at all would be at its best, a coincidence. A conscientious effort for achieving the MDGs can only be done through doing things differently and through allocating resources differently. Do MDG systems mean business? (Lately PRSP has done some work on this). We discuss these issues in Chapter 18: Lagging Social Sector Development.
Islami Nizam & Jihad
In Pakistan, no discussion on governance can be complete without"Islami Nizam". There is considerable controversy as to whether Pakistan was made for a rigid “Islamic state” or a state for liberal Muslims like M.A. Jinnah, the founder of the country. The advent of Taliban and later its more frightful form of TTP-Suicide attackers, the issue has become even more controversial and polarized.
In Chapter 19: (Part B) Islami Nizam & Jihad (Islamic Rule & Jihad), we discuss theory and practice of Jihad in the context of terrorism. Traditionally a dark image of Islam and Muslims has been painted. And Muslims themselves seem to be unsure whether this image is well deserved or untrue. Had coercion been used by Islam and Muslims, there should not be so many Christians in Spain and Hindu majority in India. Indonesia was beyond Arab geographical outreach, but accepted Islam and now most Indonesians are Muslims.
Muslims indulged in expansion because the prevalent world system permitted and even encouraged that. The vanquished people and nations did not fight or resist the victors, as they would do today. It was alright to resort to war and conquer land. The system continued everywhere including in Europe. World has seen and experienced the swift and soft military campaigns by Muslim kings and has also suffered the Halakoo (the killers) conquests. By and large Muslim societies have conducted themselves peacefully and constructively. Their contribution to science, history, philosophy, mathematics, and civilization in general has been noted undisputedly. Today’s period is an aberration which would go away with the passage of time.

Can we tame Al Qaeda and Taliban menace? Wishful thinking? Halakoos were finally tamed and they started contributing and rebuilding what they had destroyed. Perhaps there is no harm in talking to “good Talibans”, if they are willing to shun violence and respect generally accepted human values vis-à-vis their fundamentalism .If this can happen, Afghanistan can find lasting peace with the withdrawal of foreign forces and elimination of symbolically democratic but corrupt Karzai government. But you cannot expect Malaysian or Turkish Islam in Afghanistan. The most they can be expected to come to is the social milieu of NWFP, and may improve with time.
(Book is published by Royal Book Company , Karachi. BG-5 Rex Centre, Fatima Jinnah Road, Karachi, Pakistan . 75530. Phone: 35653418, 35684244,7015471.
Price US$ 25. Pk Rs. 1295)


  1. The military regimes in general have caused immense visible and invincible wounds to our polity. Ayub Khan tried to project himself a bit taller than even Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The way he manipulated the elections through a system of ‘Basic Democracy’, essentially a mockery to defeat Madar-e-Millat Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah. Similarly the hanging of Z.A. Bhutto, General Zia’s total indifference to country’s interest and futile attempt to gain popularity through transforming the society towards puritan Islam and promoting militancy across the Pak-Afghan borders, was totally against the ethos of the society and true to its builder, who adhered to liberal Islamic order, shunning theocracy. Notwithstanding the grave errors, on the part of the military dictators, General Pervez Musharraf committed a great political sin by disgracing and publicly humiliating the Chief Justice and brutally killing the Baloch leader. He also committed several sins which everyone know. Compare to dictatorship, democracy always delivered best. And I believe among all the political parties PPP represent the colossal deprivations of the people at the lower rung –the silent majority. Not many political parties even do that and that PPP essentially is a massiha party’. It is also important to quote that PPP was handed over rule when country was in grave crisis. It is not the first time but after shoving country to the brink of disaster, the entire burden was put on the shoulders of PPP and this is the party that always saved Pakistan from disintegration.

  2. I live in the USA how can I buy ur book?

  3. Available at with shipment

  4. Thanks meant for sharing this type of satisfying opinion, written piece is fastidious, that’s why I’ve read it completely.