“Fixing Pakistan is not nuclear science. It requires will and the ability.” I have been repeating this phrase ever since I started seeing Pakistan’s issues up-close from the grassroots level. The solutions are already worked out by the best of Pakistani brains and the best of foreign experts. They have been debated over and over again. However, unfortunately, they simply have not been implemented, since those in the driving government seats have different agendas.
In a country, which has natural resources boasting copper, iron ore, gold, rock salt, minerals, natural gas, water, agriculture, industries, human demographic dividend, and tourist attractions second to none, is it difficult to turn that country’s GDP around? It cannot possibly be nuclear science? It surely has to be common sense.
There have been several great austerity plans written in this country and then shelved. Great 2030 vision documents written. Great Planning Commission Annual plans written. Many donor reports written. Had any of them been taken seriously, the GDP would have been pushed up. Surely, many more jobs would have been created. What a lot of intellectual resource has gone into suggesting how to fix Pakistan’s economy and we are sitting close to a failed state! With the best of Pakistani brains, who are capable of running their corporations profitably, themselves making money through kosher means, do you honestly think that we need to be at growth less than half of the rest of Asia, and inflation more than double the rest of Asia? Is the energy crisis so dismal that there can be no solution to it? I doubt very much. Taking care of the thieves, who have pocketed the commissions that have led Pakistan into such crises, is not difficult. It simply requires the rule of law.
Forty-eight percent of Pakistanis are food deprived, despite Pakistan being an agricultural country. Do we not have the best of farmers, the best of techniques well researched, the rivers and the water conservation strategies? And yet every Pakistani is indebted to the world and is hungrier today. The ruling elite is stealing ruthlessly from every State institution and turning it financially bankrupt. Do we not know how to plug the leakages in State-owned enterprises? Does it not take one solid managerial team of professionals, who can turn the corporations from bankruptcy to success? Are we so poor in human resources that we don’t have such people? I don’t think so. Such people exist and they must be reading this article, as we speak. They just need to volunteer their expertise for the sake of the nation and be part of their own party, their own fix it team. Every Pakistani has to give to an ailing economy what they do best. Every possible corruption discovered in these corporations or in the canal water thefts has to be prosecuted. It simply requires the rule of law.
Common Pakistanis are being kidnapped by gangs, who are patronised by government ministers, but the ruling elite have private militia that protects them. Do we not know where the ministers keep the kidnapped? Do we not know where the political party torture cells are located, which kuccha areas the tribal warlords take the kidnapped victims to? Of course, the intelligence does and so do most citizens, thanks to a vibrant media. It is just a matter of putting such people behind bars. I say you put one minister, one political party representative behind bars for such a crime and that will take care of all the others. It simply requires the rule of law.
Ethnic, sectarian and religious minorities are getting slaughtered by banned terrorist organisations with linkages to Al-Qaeda, but the ruling elite are protecting these organisations. We know where these banned organisation chiefs live. But we choose to live with them. In the process, we have almost reduced Pakistan to a banana republic where the jungle law prevails. With the result that investment freezes and flees. Brain drain doubles up. Is the ‘fix it’ not simple. Prosecution of the criminals. It simply requires the rule of law.
Seven million children are not in schools. However, those in schools are in danger because their buildings are dilapidated, and most of them between the ages of 6 to 16 cannot read and write since the teachers are mostly absent. Yet, the ruling elite are siphoning off the development funds allocated to building schools. A careful execution of the “fix education” reports already written by the experts and debated at length on every possible intellectual forum will fix it. A firm hand is required to punish those siphoning off education funds and not teaching. It simply requires the rule of law.
Millions have been displaced by earthquakes, glacier meltdown and floods, but the ruling elite are merry-making with the international donations they receive. An execution of the earthquake plans from 2005, an execution of the global impact change studies reports, an execution of the flood reports, a fixing of the irrigation and drainage system, and a close execution of the bund manuals. The list is long and known to every environmental expert. A penalty should be awarded to all those criminals, who have made millions of Pakistanis suffer damages due to their corruption in the irrigation systems. It simply requires the rule of law.
Half of the labour force is protesting on the streets for minimum wage, but the ruling elite are busy shelling them and implicating these innocent protestors in cases of terrorism, they are asking for their rights - an enforcement of labour laws, of regularisation laws, and a water-tight merit policy to put competence back into government. It simply requires the rule of law.
Our soldiers and civilians are being needlessly killed by drone attacks and Taliban militant bombs alike, but we are still trying to figure out whether both breach our sovereignty or not. Negotiation and firm hand is the order of the day. It simply requires the rule of law.
Is our first priority not simply the implementation of existing rules of business and the execution of the rule of law? It is truly not nuclear science.
By Marvi Memon, is a former Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan.