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New Pakistan, old hurdles

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By: Dr A Q Khan

The new government has only recently taken over and already the old (corrupt) one has started a vicious campaign against Imran Khan. Ours is a country where the opposition criticises the government for the sake of criticism, not for the sake of offering constructive suggestions. As if this wasn’t enough, the new PM is also being blamed for all the old evils that he has inherited from previous governments that were inefficient.

Nawaz Sharif, immediately after having been “dethroned”, didn’t hesitate in blaming the caretaker government for the loadshedding crisis. If he had done his job properly, as he claimed he did, why is loadshedding still a problem right now?

Imran Khan is still in the process of forming various teams and adjusting/rewarding those who won seats. Unfortunately, we see some of the same processes as before in some cases. For instance, the consideration of a seat in the assembly takes priority over experience and education. This will, in the coming days, create many problems. If Imran Khan’s team cannot deliver, he will be blamed. Installing competent, experienced, efficient people and teams in appropriate places is necessary to achieve good governance.

Our current PM is widely travelled and he must have noticed that projects abroad are always aimed at being user-friendly. For example, a road is only dug up after a functional bypass with appropriate, clear signs has been created in its place. If power supply is to be disrupted to carry out maintenance work, the people are informed beforehand. In Pakistan, roads are dug up, telephone lines and power supply are cut off without any consideration for the people, and work is not properly completed, inconveniencing many people.

The projected work on dams will require many years (probably about nine to 10 years) to be completed – and that too at a great cost. There are less costly and easier solutions available. We have many highly-qualified, experienced water experts in the country whose advice should be sought in this regard. Twice a year, large quantities of water are wasted and allowed to run into the sea, often creating havoc along the way. A system of storage lakes and flood protection of villages and crops should be devised along the river beds on a war footing.

We have a strong, trained and patriotic army who should be motivated to help ensure development in the country along the lines of what has been done in China. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army played a dominant role in fostering development in the country. I once saw a flyover being constructed in a week without creating any disturbances to the regular flow of traffic.

All their ‘jawans’ were active in development work and were physically fit throughout the process. Their expertise in prefabricated construction is truly remarkable. They can construct a multi-storeyed building in a few weeks without raising a cloud of dust or mud and wasting large quantities of water.

PM Imran Khan, you and your team are planning to build a single dam in eight or nine years (it will probably take longer). My team and I managed to give the country nuclear weapons in seven years. This was done by putting together an excellent team and with the patriotic support of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, General Zia, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Agha Shahi, and A G N Kazi. We managed to do what many considered unthinkable and found impossible to accept.

One of the evils of our system is our outmoded, inefficient civil service cadre. Any BA/BSc/MBBS graduate can appear in the CSS exams. If he is successful, he will go on to become a ‘babu’ regardless of whether he has a degree in Urdu, Islamiat, Persian, Arabic or anything else. With time, these people become top bureaucrats and will often help promote each other’s careers.

In Europe (and China as well), civil servants are selected according to their strengths. An officer in the Ministry of Science and Technology will have a technical background and will spend his whole career in the same ministry. In Pakistan, a CSS officer will find himself/herself to be the secretary of science and technology during one posting and the secretary of water and power, IT and education in the next, without having the relevant know-how. How can we expect them to function efficiently?

I personally know of one case where an FSc graduate enjoyed Grade-22 positions in many ministries, even in some highly technical ones. We desperately need a system where the right man is appointed in the right place without nepotism and favouritism. During the many years I spent in Europe, I learnt that one of the key factors for the progress and development was the structure of the civil service. Other factors include the honesty and hard work with which people do their jobs, and their love for their respective countries.

The entire nation is looking forward to positive achievements from the new government. Imran Khan has a difficult task ahead of him, but it is not an impossible one. We have seen how Dr M. Mahathir and Turkish President Erdogan helped their countries progress rapidly to take up excellent positions in the comity of nations.

Above all, we have China’s example. Within one generation, China’s leaders and hard-working populace have transformed the country from an underdeveloped nation into the second-largest world economy, which might surpass that of the US in the future.

Despite the opposition, a majority of Pakistanis pray for the success of the new government. Using a helicopter for three or four minutes is much better than causing great inconvenience to the people for hours. It is better for the president, PM, CMs and governors to use helicopters so as to spare people many hours of inconvenience, and save fuel.

Courtesy The News

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