Seven Challenges of Pakistan & Response

  1. State Building and Institutions Strengthening
  2. Nation Building and Cultural Assimilation
  3. Economic Growth with Social Justice
  4. Democratic Development and People Empowerment
  5. Internal Stability and Order
  6. External Security and Défense
  7. Improving Global Image and Status
  1. Political Structures: Pakistan inherited a fairly well functioning political structure like the offices of the governor-general, parliament, election commission, provincial legislatures, etc. Over a period, they would have evolved into well-oiled political machinery but due to inadequate experience of the people and the elite, they started degenerating and fell into disrepute and paved the way for the non-democratic forces to fill the vacuum thus created by the dysfunctionality of the system. After many errors and trials, we are back on track but the structure which has gone weak during this tribulation needs to be strengthened if we want to see Pakistan as a functional democracy
  2. Political Processes: Some major weakness of the political system is the flaws in the political process like the voter registration, constituency delimitations, holding of fair and free elections, political succession, etc., which create crises of legitimacy for those elected with due process of electoral laws and regulations. That is why we see outbursts of violence soon after holding elections and charges of rigging. Although they are getting stronger, it will take time to mature them
  3. Political Culture: Perhaps the biggest weakness of our political system is the weak political culture of the society in general and of the political elite in particular. A mature political culture demands acceptance of dissent, tolerance of others’ views, acceptance of political results, etc. However, in Pakistan this intolerance is evident at every level of our social and political interaction starting from family to schools to business and politics All the above shortcomings are having a heavy toll on us in the form of political instability, violence, institutional overstepping, marginalization of minorities and other segments of society, bad governance, women status, etc.
  1. Permanent threat from India
  2. Intermittent threats from Afghanistan and now from Iran also
  3. Insurgency in Baluchistan
  4. Terrorism: home-grown with ethnic and sectarian overtones as well as foreign-sponsored
  1. Identity. Even after 70 years, we are unable to create a global identity except for its official name. Who are we? Are we inheritors of the Indus Valley Civilization or the last remnants of the Indian Muslim civilization which started with the arrival of Mohammed bin Qasim and ended with the arrest of the last Mughal Emperor? Are we South Asian, Central Asian, or Middle Eastern? Are we an Islamic State with a global agenda or a Muslim majority state with multi-ethnic composition? This identification confusion is not only a conceptual issue but has policy implications, particularly in our foreign policy options.
  2. Status. The same is the case with our status-social, economic, political, and technological. Although we are the 45th largest economy in the world, every global indicator puts us at the lowest rung. Whether it is the Human Development Index or the Global Corruption Index on the one hand or the Global Competitiveness Index or the Global Fragile States Index on the other, we are always bracketed with the least developed countries. It is a sad commentary on our governance and priorities set during the last 7 decades
  3. Image. Coming to the global image, the less said the better. Whether it is terrorism or extremism, financial scandals or drug trafficking you will invariably come across Pakistan as an originator. As if it was not enough, honor killings, child labor domestic violence, etc have further exacerbated the situation. Even our expatriates have not been able to build a positive image of the country.
  1. Bilateral Trade: Increased economic interactions will expand the space for peace constituencies in both states. As a first step, India should unilaterally lower non-tariff barriers to trade with Pakistan. In turn, Pakistan can accord India the Most-favored-Nation Trade status.
  2. Visa Liberalization: from both countries, as will further encourage contact between civil society groups and student exchange programs in both countries.
  3. Joint Ventures: Cooperative energy projects, such as joint natural gas pipelines, joint electricity-generation projects, and the development of a common grid system, will go a long way toward demonstrating that the people of both countries can benefit from improved relations.
  4. Nuclear Hot Line: Pakistan’s military leaders must realize that more nuclear weapons will neither improve the country’s nuclear deterrence capabilities nor help in its fight against terrorism. Furthermore, Pakistan must ensure the safety and security of its nuclear materials.
  5. Non-Interference: War doctrines such as “Cold Start” should be reviewed and Pakistan’s apprehensions about Indian interference in Baluchistan need to be addressed. At the same time, Pakistan must dismantle all armed groups focused on Kashmir.
  6. Counter-Terrorism Collaboration: This means a state-specific problem; the entire region will have to confront it together. Cooperation between civilian law enforcement agencies in South Asia should be institutionalized.
  7. Afghanistan Neutrality: India and Pakistan by supporting one side or the other; must remain objective. In the case of Afghanistan, a more proactive role for the United States must include bringing all the regional stakeholders to the table, ideally under a United Nations umbrella, and ending the India–Pakistan rivalry and proxy war in Afghanistan.
  1. Police Reforms: At the core of internal security is the creation of a capable, well-resourced, structurally coherent, and institutionally autonomous police and law enforcement infrastructure. An efficient police force must be created by fully implementing the 2002 Police Order to reorganize the police into a politically neutral force and by devising and implementing procedures and policies aimed at improving conditions for police officers, establishing citizen–police liaison committees, and enhancing police and intelligence services cooperation, gathering information and conducting interrogations.
  2. Adopting Scientific Policing: Time has come to modernize our policing, criminal investigation, and prosecution methods. The adoption of forensic technology, biometric databases, and integrated command, control, and communication systems (IC3) can go a long way in this respect. It not only allows a centralized response system, integrating calls for service, complaint registration, patrol, and the scene of the criminal investigation but also promises greater efficiency and improve the quality of scene of crime investigation. It also promises stronger accountability as calls for service are recorded and can be reviewed by independent supervisors.
  3. Respecting Human Rights: Human rights violations, especially in Baluchistan, where reports of abductions of political activists by security forces are common, must end. Serious criminal and terrorism cases should be tried in the normal civilian courts by suitably amending the Criminal Procedure Code. However, it must be remembered that terrorism is the violent by-product of extremism that needs to be curbed at all costs. Courts should ensure that justice prevails in all institutions because injustice leads to crime.
  4. Controlling Extremism: Besides mainstreaming religious education and purging its curriculum of un-Islamic teaching, we should also revise the curriculum in public schools, in ways that encourage pluralism and deter any dissemination of intolerance. Progressive religious scholars who challenge violent extremists must be provided full security as well as state support for their independent research work and publications.
  5. Controlling Corruption: Besides injustice, it is corruption that results in crimes. But corruption does not exist in a vacuum; certain conditions promote it. The widespread poverty and inequality without any social safety networks for the disadvantaged in a country where low levels of public sector salaries without a properly established code of conduct to check their misuse of authority are the biggest cause of corruption. The absence of effective oversight institutions to enforce transparency and accountability and excessive state control on resource allocation in the presence of complex, poorly-defined, constantly changing and inadequate rules and regulations further exacerbate the situation.

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Retired Federal Secretary, Government of Pakistan/Author/Independent Consultant- Public Policy & Governance Reforms

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Shahid Hussain Raja

Shahid Hussain Raja

Retired Federal Secretary, Government of Pakistan/Author/Independent Consultant- Public Policy & Governance Reforms