A Matter of Responsibility

Systemic changes are necessary for devolution to be effective. The process enables
citizens to participate actively in their own development.

By Shahrukh Mehboob | October 2020

It is often argued that seven decades is a small period in the life of a nation as nation-building requires a long time for consistent development and continuity of policies. To progress in different fields, people need to be consistently exposed to sound policymaking. In the case of Pakistan, it would be fair to acknowledge that precious gains have been achieved during the last seven decades. However much has remained unfulfilled and unaccomplished. Some political scientists also assert that the argument against the paucity of time to achieve progress is a lame one as various nations have achieved progress in shorter time spans. Some nations achieved socio-political and economic progress within decades, whereas others took more than a century to do so. It turns out that various factors are at work when progress, development, and growth are studied. Institutional failure in policymaking and implementation is cited as the principal reason why Pakistan has failed to ride the development wave which helped South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, China and Vietnam transform themselves into developed countries. Various factors have contributed to the inertia of Pakistan’s development. Some blame could be laid on constipated policy-making by state institutions which couldn’t predict the grave challenges the country faced and is still facing.

In the past years, several instances have exposed the fragility of the nation and the federating units. There have been language disputes, discord on sharing of water, disparity in sharing energy resources and in sharing federal receipts. Provincial discord has often reared its ugly head to threaten the federation. These issues have resulted largely due to unequal sharing of resources, greater representation of one province in the federation and in the key political institutions. It has often been argued that an overbearing Punjab with its largest population has created hegemony in the federation. It has usurped the rights of the smaller provinces, such as Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KP) and Balochistan. For example, issues of insurgency have added to the alienation of the Baloch people.

Read More