Why our National Policies Fail

By Senator A Rehman Malik
Former Federal Interior Minister

Originally Published By The Nation


It is globally recognized that the success of any nation is judged by three main factors, namely prosperity, progress and peace. These 3 Ps can be made possible with well thought out and well considered policies based on thorough research and reliable statistical data, which are under taken with a realistic approach and determination.

The three factors of any country namely economy, internal security and external policy are correlated and inter-dependent for coordinated performance. Let us critically review the status of implementation of these 3 factors which have given rise to developed countries as they have categorically committed not to compromise on these three factors, come what may.

Hence the important lesson learnt from the developed nations in policy making is that we should constitute realistic and workable policies depending on our geographical and economic requirements and keeping in view our GDP, balance of payment, internal and external debts, agricultural growth, and our foreign exchange reserves.

If we overview the last six years of the “Five Years Development Plan” of the Planning and Development Division, we would see invariably that the framework is based on the fudged figures. According to this plan the exports are projected to grow at 3.6 percent per annum, while imports will grow at 5 percent per annum. The estimated exports for year 2015-16 was $25,547 billion whereas actually the total exports declined to $20,802 billion. The month-on-month analysis shows that country’s exports are declining by 9.8 percent. Recently the government announced that by the end of 2018, Pakistan will achieve $35 billion of exports with a significant decrease in imports however the reality seems to be at odds as the nation’s trade gap has increased up to 60 percent inclining more towards imports.

Similarly the total public debt to GDP was estimated to be 62 percent for year 2015-16, whereas it actually crossed 66 percent. Moreover, the foreign debt displayed an increase of 28 percent and went from Rs4.796tr in 2013 to Rs6.14tr in 2016.

The value of Pak rupees has also plunged down 3.1 percent to 108.1 against dollar breaking records of nine years. Similarly the development budget is also underutilised. In the year 2016 the ministries utilised around Rs.177 billion in the first 10 months against 259 billion where as it should have used not less than 80 percent of the budget for development. Meanwhile Baluchistan government utilised only one third of its education budget of year 2016 which could build almost 2900 primary schools and educate 430,000 children. Similarly 47 percent of the education budget was underutilised by the KP government.

We witness a blame game between the federal and the provincial governments. The federal government is of the view point that it is due to the incompetence and lack of efficiency of the provincial governments that the budget is not fully utilised for development purposes whereas the provincial governments complain that the delay in the release of funds from the centre is the actual cause of underutilisation of the budget.

The figures mentioned earlier undeniably indicate that there are some serious lacunas / lapses either in working of the statistical data or figures are being fudged. Thus it looks like a deliberate effort by the government to look better in performance than the previous government.

Moreover, our internal security also largely depends upon our economics and peace I believe is a major factor for the economic growth and development. Peace cannot be brought unless the law enforcement is done without discrimination by the capable and able law enforcers. The law enforcers cannot bring in rule of law unless they are fully equipped, trained and well paid. It is unfortunate that none of this is done due to the non-availability of funds. As per police budget 2015-16, 80 percent of the budget is utilised in pays and allowances whereas only 2 percent for training, 7 percent for fuel and 10 percent for other departmental operations.

Moreover, the process of fund transfer is exceptionally slow therefore it compels the policemen to arrange the resources own their own in order to perform the day to day activities. Unfortunately, In March 2017, one of the ASI from Chakwal took his life because of the work load and lack of resources provided. He mentioned in his suicide note that he had not received salary for last 3 months. So one must ponder that how can policemen work to protect us when their basic needs are not even taken care of.

In order to get out of this mess, the rulers must ensure a well thought policy for coming 15 years and work in such a way that Pakistan becomes a need for other countries. It can only be done by studying the contents of such nations who have previously improved their weaknesses, as it is the right way to progress, peaceand prosperity.

I on my part have also identified the reasons for the failure of our policy. Reasons for failure are unending. Following are a few, which serve as a food for thought and retrospection; from 1947 to 1958 change of governments in quick succession, seven PMs in 11 years. Imposition of four martial laws 1958 1969 1977 and 1999 had catastrophic effect on national institutions like legislative executive and judiciary and undermined rule of law. More so, short life of national policiesAyyub’s policy of industrialisation through private sector was reversed by ZAB. In turn Zia ul haq rolled back nationalisation introduced by Bhutto. Elected PMs of 90s have been trying to subvert each other’s policies. Furthermore the disconnected, divergent and mutually antagonistic policies of successive governments were nonstarters and suffered inherent weaknesses.

Moreover, terrorism, Taliban, civil disorder and political mafias like in Karachi contributed to the failure of policies.

The research trends show that most of the policies like foreign policy, economic policy, and external policies have not been taken up seriously since independence despite having the best brains and best resources; man power, mountains, minerals, forests and deserts.

I have a question to the planners; can they tell the nation that what steps did they take to explore the right type of mining in Baluchistan and other parts of the country? Why has the government not allocated the maximum funds to the law enforcement agencies as this is a vital and an elementary necessity which is indispensable for economic safety? Why has the government failed to stop brain-drain from the country, and also has failed to capture/utilise the best I.T. experts for the country?

I therefore demand that well thought out policies be made for apt utilisation of the resources under a strict monitoring body, making the process of implementation of those policies exclusive of corruption and biasness. It is time that we stand for our nation and not for the individuals. So let us look into the future and work together to face the upcoming challenges and make achievable polices to benefit our coming generations because the policies of our past must not define our future but provide us with the guidelines to learn from our mistakes.

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