Islamabad, November 4: Constitutional supremacy, electoral reforms to ensure inclusiveness, rule of law, emphasis on public service delivery, leadership development, accountability and ownership, awareness of citizenship, participatory governance based on the realities of Pakistan’s socio-political culture instead of adopting Western models and the optimal use of technology to create effective systems of governance at all levels of the state were the key ideas put forward and widely discussed by leading policy practitioners and academics at a seminar jointly organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI).
The session titled “Political System and Governance in Pakistan” was part of the “Grand National Dialogue” recently initiated by IPRI, aimed at gathering contributions and insights from scholars, scholars and practitioners on a host of national issues. , with the aim of converting them into concrete recommendations for policy makers.
Chaired by IPS President Khalid Rahman and co-organized by Brig(r) Raashid Wali Janjua, Research Director at IPRI and Ambassador(r) Syed Abrar Hussain, IPS Vice President, the seminar was addressed by Syed Abu Ahmad Akif (SI), Former Federal Secretary, Dr Syed Tahir Hijazi, Former Governance Member, Planning Commission of Pakistan, Dr Noreen Saher, Associate Professor/Chair, Department of Anthropology, International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI), Muhammad Arshad, CEO, Sehat Sahulat Program, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Government of Pakistan, and Jawad Akhtar Khokhar, Advisor, Maritime Affairs, Planning Commission of Pakistan. Naufil Shahrukh, GM Operation of IPS, moderated the session.
Initiating the discussion, Akif posed a series of questions highlighting several internal and external contributing factors leading to the governance deficit in Pakistan. He pointed to economic mismanagement, political disorder, deterioration of public services, civil-military relations, internal conflicts, lawlessness, extremism, militancy, intolerance, rising debts, external forces and geopolitical circumstances as some of the reasons for the deplorable situation in the country.
He emphasized the need to change the mindset to a productive and constructive one, emphasizing that no problem can be solved by the same thought that generated it in the first place.
Arshad supported Akif’s ideas, saying that all was not bad in the country and that several successes can be seen during his seventy-five-year journey. The development of nuclear weapons and success against the war on terrorism are a few examples, but the country has also seen commendable progress in other areas and national capacity to use ICTs for governance and public service delivery. is at par. with developed nations.
The speaker called the successful planning and implementation of the Sehat Sahulat program no less than an achievement in itself, as it provided health services to 170 million people in 1036 hospitals across the country. A precedent of such a model with such scale and in the face of such insurance challenges, he says, has not even been seen in the G7 countries, and the fact that all of this has been done with any compliance politics makes that realization even sweeter.
The speaker argued that this was just another success story that can also be replicated in other sectors. The only requirement is to channel the available resources and adopt the true model of inclusive governance where everyone has a specific role to play, for which they appropriate and become responsible and accountable.
Khokhar spoke from the perspective of Gwadar, highlighting challenges in the areas of port and city integration of Gwadar, travel, connectivity and training. On the other hand, he also highlighted some achievements with the help of Chinese institutions in the field and the participation of all stakeholders at the federal, provincial and local levels. He affirmed that the genuine and fundamental demands of the natives were taken care of now and that past mistakes had mostly been rectified.
Dr. Hijazi mentioned NADRA as one of the country’s greatest success stories as a facilitator and catalyst for good governance.
Dr. Seher called negativity and pessimism about our own culture a disease. She cited that nations go through good and bad times, but ethnocentrism keeps them from sinking. We, on the other hand, face xenocentrism, which is both the result and the target of fifth generation warfare.
She pointed out that there is vast natural and cultural diversity in Pakistan, but the real problem is lack of ownership and distorted priorities. With 60% youth, Pakistan is extremely rich in its contemporary resources and just needs to bring the skill into the mainstream. In an era where proxy warfare is being waged to divide the country, we must capitalize on our strengths of collectivism and networking.
Khalid Rahman, concluded the session by advocating for electoral reforms for proportionate democracy, strengthening the system of local bodies and student unions as nurseries of healthy democracy, intra-party democracy, the use technology and digitization for governance, smaller administrative units and fiscal decentralization.
He also highlighted the policy principles of the Constitution of Pakistan which are a guiding light for the essential framework of morality and values for the governance of the country at all levels.
He believes that reforms are needed in many areas, but the constitution must always be protected and the parliament must be strengthened. The hybrid governance model should be phased out, but not through conflict. Instead of being wasted on pointing fingers, energies should instead be used to solve problems collectively.
Rahman felt that we need to look through a bifocal lens, through which we could see both our weaknesses and our strengths. On the other hand, we must not remain in the mode of denial, and begin to take our own responsibilities by avoiding any blame game.