Farid A. Malik |
In a recent get-together, everyone was wondering why the government of PML-N is only interested in building roads and transport systems. Prompt came the reply that it is all they can do. This imposed political leadership is visionless and directionless.
In Punjab ‘Qalandri’, of Shehbaz Rules, he calls himself ‘Khadam-e-Aala’ which means nothing moves without his nod. The cabinet, bureaucracy, and police all wait for his directions. It is a perfect example of a centralized authority and one man show.
The PML-N has been in the corridors of power since 1985. In his first stint as Chief Minister ‘Khadam-e-Aala’ promised to transform Lahore into Paris, a claim I do not understand as our city has its own character. I requested him to restore Lahore to its original glory, as it was once declared as one of the best cities of the British Commonwealth.
In a recent get-together, everyone was wondering why the government of PML-N is only interested in building roads and transport systems.
Mian Sahib wanted to lead the country into the ranks of ‘Asian Tigers’ without even understanding their road maps; it sounded as if it could be achieved by spraying the stripes of the tiger on people’s backs. The Government spends billions on advertisements for highlighting its performance, which is nowhere to be felt. While growing up in Lahore we were told that while only ‘Banaspati Ghee’ is advertised, ‘Desi Ghee’ is what is always automatically recognized.
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Now CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) is the talk of the town. It is being projected as a game changer. Several projects have been launched under its umbrella. The importance of Gwadar port is important both for the country and the province of Baluchistan. Unless there is a planned trickledown effect its usefulness will remain limited.
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Then there is a mystery that surrounds the project whose details have not been made public. Some ill-planned and controversial projects like the Sahiwal Coal Power Plant and the Orange Train of Lahore have also been included in CPEC.
Impact of National self-reliance projects
Pakistan had the unique distinction of many firsts in Asia. The first High Tension Physics lab was built at GCU, National Institute of Silicon Technology (NIST) produced Silicon from local sands in Islamabad, Rahber-I Rocket was launched by SUPARCO and Ball Point Pens were manufactured in Gujranwala in the private sector.
Some ill-planned and controversial projects like the Sahiwal Coal Power Plant and the Orange Train of Lahore have also been included in CPEC.
All these projects were conceived, planned and launched in the fifties and sixties. In the seventies national self reliance projects were undertaken by the elected government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) that included Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), National Fertilizer Corporation (NFC) Complexes, Heavy Industries Taxila, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra, etc.
There was a multi-pronged approach, basic industrialization, Agro based industry and Defense Production were all covered. Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission was revamped under professional leadership of Engr Munir Ahmed Khan while Professor Riazuddin was tasked with designing the nuclear device. Several technocrats were appointed as federal secretaries.
The momentum continued. By 1995 Pakistan had the distinction of five world sport championships that included Hockey, Cricket, Squash, Yachting and Snooker today we do not have a single Olympic medal. It is a sad story of decline due to inept leadership that can only think of yellow cab schemes and Interest Free loans for the unemployed youth without any guidance or business plans for success.
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I had the chance of visiting Syed Engineers, the first manufacturer of ballpoint pens in Asia and asked them about their vision to produce writing instruments. I was surprised by the reply.
The Planning Commission of that time had not only identified projects, they even had prepared business plans, loan arrangements and air marked locations in Industrial Parks. It was a unified approach. A young Engr. by the name of Syed Ajmal Hussian took the challenge to produce the first ballpoint pens of Asia, which at that time was unthinkable considering our climatic conditions. Today the pens are being exported from the country and the standards have been redefined.
Pakistan needs much more today
There has to be a game plan and vision beyond building roads and advertisements on the print and electronic media. Our children need education, which is their constitutional right; they need to be healthy for which they need at least clean drinking water.
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These thoroughfares will take them nowhere. In East Pakistan now Bangladesh bridges were built to cross rivers that were unconnected and went nowhere. Finally they decided to go on their own. Muslim League the founding party of Pakistan was launched in Decca in 1905 yet they parted ways.
Our children need education, which is their constitutional right; they need to be healthy for which they need at least clean drinking water.
The question is how did Pakistan end up with such visionless leadership? Answer is plain and simple ‘manipulated ballots’. In 1970, the Military Junta opted for a free and fair election since then they have either looked for positive results or have taken hands off approach.
The party in power, which was once launched by them through a rigged electoral process, has now taken roots of its own in the civil administration in Punjab. A similar situation existed in Karachi before the crackdown against MQM.
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Red warrants have been issue against the founder of the party that once ruled over the city. Now the focus has to shift on the cleansing of the largest province of the country. Rangers should be deployed to rid Punjab of the terrorists, followed by a credible ballot similar to the one in 1970 to attract the best minds in the country to enter the corridors of power to lead the nation in the 21st century.
The current political leadership has failed to deliver on all fronts; much more is needed which is beyond their capacity and capability. A major process correction and change of the direction is needed for the collective wisdom and will of the people to prevail to put an end to Zia-Mush sponsored political roguery.
Dr Farid Malik is a prominent technical and management expert in mining, materials, engineering and high-tech industry; he is a regular columnist with The Nation and Pakistan Today; this piece, is being published by his permission. Global Village Space may not necessarily agree with the facts, opinions and analyses given here.