Developing Pakistan

Development of a nation needs both hardware and software. Hardware consists of tangible assets and tools while software are the intangible assets like education, skills, human resource development and capacity building.

In this section we address the hardware of development. The sectors most commonly included under this are:

Transportation

Roads, bridges, railway lines, airports

Telecommunication

Water management, sanitation and irrigation

Electricity generation

These sectors are the back bones of not only modern economy but have impact on many other sectors of economy like tourism, travel, arts, culture, sports, and civic and social life in general. However, at this time all major components of infrastructure are in poor condition. There is a lack of proper governance and implementation of whatever policies are made. The needs of citizens in any of the above-mentioned sectors are not being met. Other than some pet projects of the government, there are not enough roads and the existing ones are badly in need of repair. Public transport has been left entirely to private sector and is fragmented and costly. One reason for the government being focused on road building rather than providing public transport is that the international financing agencies have always pushed to privatization of public transport and funds have been made available only for road building. There is lack of capacity on part of traffic police and drivers. Pakistan Railway has almost been destroyed due to poor governmental policies and inefficiencies. Pakistan International Airline has become a white elephant due to poor governance and politicization of the management. In terms of water availability and management, there is looming crisis due to climate change, waste of water due to poor irrigation techniques and inequitable distribution of water.  Water mafia pretty much controls water distribution in Karachi.  A large segment of population lacks basic sanitation facilities. Telecommunication sector is thriving but high indirect taxes limit its access for the poor. Internet access is still very restricted. And energy crisis has led to not only negatively impacted businesses and trade but also the quality of life for people. Over all the poor have been left out of the whole development paradigm. They neither have a voice nor sincere representatives to speak for them.

World Bank published a paper in August 2012, “Public Infrastructure and Gaps in Pakistan”.  Even though the paper is 5 years old, it still holds true for the most part. In this Pakistan was compared to nine developing countries based on three criteria: a. Large emerging economies S. Asia (India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh), b. Large emerging economies in other regions (Egypt, Turkey and Brazil) c. Large East Asian countries with successful economic performance (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia). The paper concluded as follows:

 “Pakistan has made some progress over the last five decades. However, compared to other similar countries, the rate of improvement in Pakistan has been among the slowest for the majority of public infrastructure sectors. This has matched the relatively weak economic growth performance of the country in recent decades, which has remained at or below the median country in the world. Moreover, the infrastructure improvement has been insufficient to ameliorate substantially the infrastructure conditions of Pakistani citizens.

Transportation/Roads

Availability of reliable, sustainable, comfortable and safe roads and means of transport is important for many reasons:

  • It has close relationship with economic development
  • Proper access for critical emergency services like ambulances and fire vehicles may make a difference between life and death
  • Travel for leisure is important for emotional and mental health and for widening of children’s outlook
  • For a country like Pakistan where there are many ethnic groups and smaller nationalities, ability to travel is an important for creating good will, interprovincial harmony and understanding of different cultures.
  • For employment opportunities
  • A good public transport system will improve traffic flow, reduce need of land to expand road system, use of energy, reduce air and noise pollution

A good, efficient and safe transport system can only be built with comprehensive planning interlocking various pieces of the puzzle. In Pakistan, however, the focus is on major roads development. Rest of the components are missing. Various components of this plan include:

  • Roads, railway, air travel and buses
  • City and urban space planning which takes into consideration various needs of different segments of population. It will include planning not only for transport but for recreation, cultural needs, religious places sports grounds and parking. It is not possible under the current system as the land mafia controls most urban land.
  • Governance
  • Traffic rules
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Impact on environment
  • Feasibility of the best routing
  • Land use
  • Affordability for average citizens
  • Consideration for pedestrians and non-motorized traffic as they are important road users with equal rights
  • Elderly and disabled population’s needs have to be met
  • Special attention has to be paid to the needs of women due to country’s cultural restrictions. Lack of appropriate transportation affects their educational and employment opportunities as well as is a hinderance to their participation in public life
  • The poor are worst hit, as they have been pushed to the periphery of the cities as the prime land is being taken up by posh residential areas, shopping malls and other facilities for upper middle class. They have to travel large distances to move between work and home at great expense of time, energy and cost
  • Transport system is also a key factor for evening up of development between rural and urban areas
  • A very important aspect of this planning process is to generate financial resources to fund this. Current and past governments have focused only on loans whether from internal sources or international financial institutions. This has resulted in huge debt burden on current and future generations. It is also a fact that international financial institutions have their own vested interests and agendas and thus push for the plans which may be neither optimal nor appropriate for country’s needs
  • Planning for the rapidly growing population as this problem will get worse

Our Goals

  • Develop a comprehensive short and middle term plan
  • Eliminate land mafia and thus improve city and urban land planning for the benefit of all citizens
  • Establish priorities based on importance to economy, reducing traffic congestions, children and women travel and commute to work.
  • Improve governance
  • Improve traffic rules compliance
  • Reduce traffic accidents
  • Divert heavy traffic to outside congested areas
  • Reduce energy needs
  • Capacity building of the traffic police
  • Reduce commute time to work
  • Improve people’s quality o life
  • Find ways to finance the projects with more indigenous and less costly resources. It is not just the cost of new projects but the financing for the maintenance is also critical

Telecommunication

Technology has revolutionized the way we communicate over long distance. This has major consequences for social, political and economic life of a country. Another important aspect is access to information and knowledge. As they say knowledge is power, there is no doubt that those who have access to this tool will be ahead of the rest in jobs and educational opportunities and will be connected with the rest of world.  Since in the current system this access is largely dependent on the financial resources, it also is a cause in maintaining and worsening the existing inequality.

At this time almost half of the world has access to internet and owns a smart phone. But we don’t know if this access is equal or we are counting those who can only access to it occasionally or sporadically. In Pakistan there are 140 million subscribers but this does not tell us how many people have more than one subscription. Only 18 per cent population has access to internet in Pakistan. Whereas this tell us about the inequality of access within the country, Pakistan as a country is behind in this respect as compared to other similar countries. For example, this number is 34.4 in India, 50.4 in Indonesia, 78.8 in Malaysia, 83.5 in Thailand and 70 in Iran.

This sector is also very important from governance point of view.  It can give access to information to citizens about government policies which are relevant and important for them. It can streamline tax collection, land records, business revenue reporting etc. and reduce corruption.

It can be used for e-learning and can help mitigate the gap of educational opportunities between different regions. It can help with access to banking and business in remote areas.

Telecom industry has gone through major changes.  As per current neoliberal philosophy, solution to all economic and social ills is privatization of all state owned institutions. Thus, Pakistan telecom industry has also changed from a state owned and controlled entity, to almost completely market based. Telecom industry is said to be booming in Pakistan at this time but as mentioned above, there are major gaps of access to these services which means that privatization is unable to fix that problem.

Telecom companies are constantly complaining that they are not as profitable due to taxes and various other charges, while the consumers are paying high taxes every step of the way for using these services. There also some claims that these companies are not paying their fair share of taxes and are under investigation.

We believe that the state’s primary role is to protect its citizen’s interests and not facilitate profit making for the private companies.

Our Strategies

Information technology will be used to improve governance and public-sector performance by collecting all data, public opinion, performance of key officials.

  • It will be used for E-governance to make is easy for the citizens to access information. Also, for streamlining tax collection, business revenue reporting, land records and other key areas of government functions.
  • It will be use to promote capacity building and training workshops for interested citizens in different communities.
  • Vocational trainings will be offered
  • Enhance education system, especially in remote areas where quality of teachers is not up to standard and for teachers training.
  • There are many innovations in healthcare in terms of diagnosis and even treatment in remote areas. These opportunities will be explored.
  • Free Wi Fi in major city centers, public places, and educational institutions
  • Provide affordable laptops and tablets to all interested citizens
  • Promoting and facilitating indigenous software innovation
  • Implement IT curriculum at appropriate levels in all educational institutions
  • E-libraries will be set up to promote equal access to information to all
  • Encourage and facilitate country specific content to be uploaded on the net
  • Encourage translation of material in local languages and make it available through internet.
  • Set up research and development departments for IT in public sector

Water Management

Water is source of life. In Pakistan water is not only needed for human consumption but also for agriculture which contributes 22% of GDP, employs one half to two third of work force and accounts for 80% of exports. Water is critical for food security and is needed for most industries.

Scarcity of water can lead to wars between nations and create civil strife within nations. Pakistan faces several challenges in this regard due to rapidly growing population, reduced supply due to environmental changes and dependence on Indus river which can be threatened by the neighboring India.

Our water policy will address this issue as follows:

  • Modernize irrigation system to reduce wastage.
  • Reduce inequities of water distribution
  • Plan to replace crops which need excessive water with more appropriate crops
  • Improve water storage capacity to store rain and flood water by building village ponds, small dams and other reservoirs
  • Regulate water supply to industry
  • Implement user fee to discourage wastage of water by consumers
  • Regulate above ground water extraction
  • Develop a coherent water management policy

Energy

This section is under development

ART & CULTURE