PIDE launches comprehensive debate on reform

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PIDE launches comprehensive debate on reform

· Each political party that aspires to be sworn into power must address each of the publication’s sections, which have rarely – if ever – been discussed at a structural level.

· Technical innovations into electoral processes are naturally going to be part of this, but a broader bird’s eye view is pertinent to identify the various mechanisms – sometimes referred to as ‘feeders’ – that form the system of political contestation.

Islamabad, JAN 14 /DNA/ – The Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) launched its latest issue of Discourse Magazine this week, an extensive publication that seeks to initiate a nationwide debate on the reform of key sectors, domains, and institutions. According to its Chief Editor, Abbas Moosvi, Pakistan has failed to overhaul its colonial-era state configurations – top-down, extractive, and bureaucratic – which is the primary reason for its current socioeconomic and political woes. In light of the upcoming election cycle, which seems to be arriving at a critical juncture, the issue emphasizes that the time is optimal for taking a radical departure from current institutional arrangements to foster a Pakistan that works for the many – not just the privileged few.

Fifteen unique areas are covered in ‘Discourse – Reconfiguring Pakistan: State, Society, and Economy,’ which include Reconceptualizing Development, Constitutional Reform, Political Contestation, Parliament and Civil Service, Economic Policy, Foreign Aid, Energy, Trade and Industry, Land and Agriculture, Labour Relations, Education, Public Welfare, Cities and Local Governance, Climate, and Society and Culture.

According to the Press Release issued by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), the publication features a substantial number of high-profile names from the academic domain, political sphere, legal fraternity, media sector, government bureaucracy, diplomatic circle, business community, development network, and more, to offer a framework within which a productive policy agenda may be formulated.

According to the Editor, each political party that aspires to be sworn into power must address each of the publication’s sections, which have rarely – if ever – been discussed at a structural level. Colonial-era governance arrangements based on extraction have unfortunately continued to persist, with the White man simply being replaced by the ‘Brown sahib’. Without the elimination of these oppressive modalities, Pakistan will most likely continue to sink into further indebtedness, economic precarity, and sociopolitical instability: glimpses of which have been observed across the country in recent months.

He further went on to claim that whilst incompetent individuals in the corridors of power are a primary reason for all this, an equally important point of consideration is the political economy that is responsible for their entry and overdue stay. Technical innovations into electoral processes are naturally going to be part of this, but a broader bird’s eye view is pertinent to identify the various mechanisms – sometimes referred to as ‘feeders’ – that form the system of political contestation. These include unions, associations, empowered local governments, freedom of speech/assembly, unimpeded arts/culture, respect for human rights, and an overall dynamic, robust civil society that can check entrenched power structures.

It is largely acknowledged in academic circles that prosperity is ultimately downstream of good governance, but what this means in our specific context remains ambiguous. Policy formulation in Pakistan is predominantly outsourced to international financial institutions and multilateral donor agencies, which are known to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to their proposals – reproducing them in a wide array of countries across the Global South with little to no attention paid to the situation on the ground. The reason for this, of course, is that governing elites have approached their roles with the objective of rent-seeking: extracting resources from the global economy (mostly in the form of credit agreements) that are ultimately paid for by the already vulnerable working class population via indirect taxation on goods and services.

These concerns bleed into all others – resulting in the situation today, in which Pakistan finds itself on the brink of sovereign default and at the mercy of the predatory International Monetary Fund.