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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Past, present and the future of Pakistan

According to Dr. Farid A Malik, an ex-chairman of Pakistan science foundation, nations learn from their past and move on. The present is important as it is ongoing and we have to deal with it but the future holds the key which can be steered. In a world driven by technology, the only change is permanent.

Nations learn from their past and move on. The present is important as it is ongoing and we have to deal with it but the future holds the key which can be steered. In a world driven by technology, the only change is permanent. A lot of homework is required to plan for the future as the transition is never easy. Barring a few years, the past of the land of the pure is not very glorious. Despite my raid of problems, we started off well. The pundits who had given a few months to the new country were proven wrong. Everyone was pulling in the right direction. By the mid-fifties, the entire framework for development was in place. In 1956 the constitution was also framed. The future of Pakistan depends upon some real changes that are required at the moment.

Iskander Mirza was the last Governor-General and the first President of the republic. Elections were scheduled for 1958. Barrister Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan was the leading politician of his time. From the Eastern Wing Khawaja Nazimuddin and Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy were the political heavyweights. Instead of moving towards constitutional democracy, the President and the Army Chief conspired to derail the march towards real freedom. To end the so-called golden era of Ayub Khan, we the students had to come on the streets. Finally, the dictator was toppled in March 1969. Free and fair elections on the basis of Adult Franchise were held in 1970.

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When the transfer of power was delayed, civil war erupted in East Pakistan

A new country called Bangladesh emerged on the world map. Recently, when Pakistani flags flew in the Decca stadium during the T-20 Cricket Matches, brought back sad memories. The movement for division of the Indian Sub-continent was started there in the year 1906. Our Bengali brethren played a leading role in the freedom movement. With their overwhelming majority, they were the real Pakistan. The democratic period in what remained of the original land was brief (1971 to 1977). Since then, it has been downhill with no reprieve in sight. Most institutions have become non-functional.

In the year 1996, Imran Khan (IK) the winning captain of the 1992 Cricket World Cup decided to launch his political outfit called; Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). After a long struggle, IK finally emerged as a major player in politics. In his October 2011 Jalsa at Minar-e-Pakistan, a very large crowd consisting of a cross-section of the population came out to support him. Despite being a clear favorite, PTI was robbed of an election victory in 2013, however, he managed to form government in KPK and sat on the opposition benches at the center.

In the next electoral contest in 2018, IK managed to form governments at the federal level together with three provinces (Punjab, KPK, Baluchistan). Being the party in power, the present era belongs to PTI. In order to stay current, it has to deliver now to be a player in the future otherwise it too will be a part of the inglorious past like other failed parties (PML-N, PML-Q, PPP, MQM, ANP, JUI, JI, etc). The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has to come out of the ‘ Mafia ‘ controlled ‘ Zia Dark Ages ‘. Despite the persistent efforts of IK, the much-needed change has alluded to the regime mainly because of the old status-quo players in his team.

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Imran khan’s speech 

In his recent speech, IK highlighted the importance of exports as the country faces a serious trade deficit. Our imports are higher than our exports, expenses are higher than the income. Increasing exports and income requires long-term persistent efforts while imports and expenses can be reduced immediately. Exports come later, first, the nation’s needs have to be met followed by import substitution. Ayub Khan’s industrialization was misdirected as it did not cater to basic needs.

Steel is the building block of the nation which was established in the decade of seventies and so were the Defense Production facilities that are now producing tanks and fighter jets. Unfortunately, the once-profitable Steel Mills were shut down by the rulers of the past. Three years into his term IK has not been able to revive this important plant which is the bedrock of our self-reliance needs.

Pakistan also faces a serious fuel crisis. Every year the people have to suffer due to gas shortages in the winter months. Instead of looking at long-term sources, LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) is being imported from Qatar at an exorbitant price. Above ground, Coal Gasification is a standard process being used in several countries to produce SNG (Synthetic Natural Gas) at a much lower cost ($ 7 to 8 per MMBTU). Biogas is also an option as Cow Dung is widely available in the villages but the sector remains non-formal which needs to be engineered for sustainability and reliability. In the year 2010, a PTI model farm was developed in collaboration with the party Think Tank where Biogas Plant and Solar Tube wells were installed outside Lahore.

Read more: Pakistan’s exports hit record high of $2.9 Bn

Pakistan produces expensive power and gas that is unaffordable

It was also proposed to set up a Biogas Development Authority to formalize this sector and develop it on sound engineering foundations. Today the country produces expensive power and gas that is unaffordable by the masses. It was due to the efforts of the Lahore Think Tank that the importance of a separate Ministry of Energy was highlighted together with a major focus on the development of the Thar Coal deposits. Unfortunately, a lot of good work done by the party Think Tanks was overlooked by the ‘electables’ who took control of the movement after 2011 resulting in a lack of performance.

While the country has been in a mess since 1977, both the opposition and the party in power continue to talk about their past and current laurels which remain only on paper. No one seems to have a road map for the future. PTI has an edge over other parties as it can revive its ‘Tank Tanks’ while getting rid of those who have failed to deliver. IK in one of his recent speeches mentioned that the country faces ‘Heeran Kun Masiel’ (Mind-boggling problems). Some of the individuals that surround him today are responsible for misleading him.

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As a nation, we have suffered enough due to ‘Sub Thek Ha’ (All is well) syndrome. All is not well in the land of the pure nor it has been for a long time. While our past and present leave a lot to be desired but we still have a chance to formulate a workable future road map. In order to meet the challenges of the coming days, new players and approaches have to be adopted. Let’s focus on the future to come out of this self-created mess by a few at the cost of many. Ik has to decide, he can steer the ship in the right direction by pushing out the black sheep and staying afloat himself or let history repeat itself and watch the jumpers abandon the wreck that they created themself.


The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at fmaliks@hotmail.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.