The outgoing Programme Director of UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Mr. Marc Andre Franche has raised a very scary question; “Do you want a country or not”? According to him, no one seems interested in nation-building. There is an elite capture that thrives on a cheap labor force for personal comfort. They own properties in Europe while shopping is done in Dubai. Earlier President Putin of Russia also came out with an interesting observation about Pakistanis; “They only like to be buried in Pakistan”.
Having personal experience of working with UNDP and UNIDO initiatives in the country, I strongly feel that Mr. Franche’s remarks carry weight. According to him, no one is willing to sacrifice for the benefit of the nation. On his recent visit to Karachi, he was horrified at the lack of basic amenities in the city. He found the economic engine of the country at the point of a break-up which should be a serious cause of concern for the policymakers.
Last month I had the chance of visiting a UNDP-sponsored project in Kot Lakhpat of which I was one of the founding engineers. It started in 1976 within PITAC (Pakistan Industrial Technical Assistance Center) to upgrade the Foundry Technology in the country. It was named Metal’s Advisory Service (MAS) ably led by an expert by the name of Dr. Kamal Hussain who hailed from Egypt. After its launch, the operations were expanded to Kot Lakhpat where a state-of-the-art center was established.
The name was changed to MIRDC (Metals Industry Research and Development Center) and then to TSC (Technical Services Center). Though the scope of services remained the same, the names kept changing. While PITAC continues to be affiliated with the Ministry of Industries and Production (MOIP), TSC was linked with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). As expertise in metals already existed within MOIP, TSC was rendered non-functional despite its noteworthy contribution to the development of the Foundry Industry in the country.
What actually happened?
I had gone there to develop the metal required to fabricate the Railway Tract needed for the ML-1 Project of the Pakistan Railways. I was shocked and saddened to find the once functional organization, rendered non-functional. All the good work and efforts of UNDP had been wasted. I am sure several other projects of national importance must have met the same fate resulting in technological regression instead of progress.
A few years back I had the opportunity of working with the World Health Organization (WHO) another important United Nations organization. The project was to introduce ‘ Quality Management Systems (QMS) in Sudan. I traveled to Khartoum the capital city where we went to see the Health Minister. I was introduced to a lot of fanfare typical of international organizations but I could read the expressions of disinterest by the minister. After the introduction, he said, “Gentlemen we are tired of awareness seminars and training workshops, we want to hand-hold to build effective systems”.
I was ready for him, with a grim of satisfaction, I replied, “Sir I have been looking for action in my own country now you have provided me with an opportunity”. He looked at me and said, “Tomorrow morning you go to Sahab Hospital and build a QMS there that we can implement. He exactly knew what was required but unfortunately in the land of the pure, this is not the case. Confusion and lack of direction prevail combined with vested interests it is a lethal combination.
As President, Pervez Musharraf posed a serious question that remains unanswered till today, “Where has all the loan money gone”? No one seems to know or even care. Loan-supported luxury is a perfect recipe for disaster that has been ongoing for the last four decades in the republic. While individual empires have been built the state and its vital institutions have all collapsed. The Armed Forces have survived by the power of their muscles, rest could not. They surely want a country and are willing to lay down their lives for its territorial integrity but at a very heavy price which has now become unbearable for a country of our size.
Read more: How Nadir Shah could have fixed Lahore?
After debt servicing and defense expenditure, almost 60% of resources are consumed, leaving very little for the much-needed human development. The menace of corruption continues unabated with failed accountability of the rogue elements who continue to rob the nation. After having worked for UN bodies, the government and the private sector I firmly believe that we have all been a party to this unchecked decline. Dissent for course correction is non-existent all around. Even the UN Experts don’t assert themselves to ensure continuity and sustainability of their efforts.
At least in the current scenario, UNDP should see that they’re vital for the country, ‘Foundry Technology’ project (MAS/MIRDC/TSC) be revived and merged with PITAC from where it was launched. Metals and Minerals are the basic building block of the nation, if we want our country to survive and grow then such important UNDP/UNIDO projects should not be shelved. Marc Andre Franche please hold our hand and lead as I did in Sudan before you pack your bags to go home. The people of Pakistan will be ever indebted to you for your courage and concern for them. Yes, we want a country, help us, don’t leave with a question, give us a solution that we can implement and benefit from.
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy