Pakistan is at the cross-roads of history, facing myriad of complex problems. It is imperative for the nation to set priorities right and rethink future. Presented below are some key areas in which progress can be made to ensure a better future.
Religion: Pakistan was created in the name of Islam. Religion was the main binding force for the people of the country at the time of inception, but with time the original spirit faded away and what should have been a strength gradually turned into a design fault. The reason is fundamentally simple: different people interpret religion in different ways and it is really a difficult task to realize moderation across the board. Wise men say that the nation should have long ago switched onto some common value or belief system like any other normal nation. It is still not late, but for this the country needs a true leader; the right mood and momentum which somehow fail to develop all the time.
Politics: There are serious design flaws in the constitution of Pakistan even though it is considered as a very mature set of legislative, legal and executive frameworks mainly because it was adopted by majority of political forces in 1973 and later on. First and foremost is the form of government. The constitution lays framework for a parliamentary form of government, whereas keeping in view present and past scenarios presidential form of government would have been more ideal. The founder desired Pakistan to be a socio-Islamic state. Although constitutional name of the country is Islamic Republic of Pakistan but Islamic code is not being implemented in letter and spirit. Perhaps biggest flaw which has recently become visible is that it is possible for politicians with low popular support to hold key public portfolios and even undesirable people assume figurehead roles. There is also a very serious need for separation of judicial powers from that of executive powers.
Economic: The Tax to GDP ratio of Pakistan is dismally around 9.5%, which reflects the culture of tax evasion and mistrust of general public on utilization of the national exchequer. Since people do not pay direct taxes so there is a natural inclination of the Government to impose indirect taxes. Around 65% of tax revenue is collected in the form of indirect taxes. There are two main revenue heads in federal budget i.e., tax and non-tax revenue. The non-tax revenue is derived mainly from petroleum levy which only makes price of fuel expensive. This gives rise to inflation since factories run on fuel. Budgetary targets are often missed and there is a general tendency of fiscal mismanagement at federal and provincial levels. Lack of public policy framework poses another challenge. There is a need to include more and more elite in the tax net and this should be done on top priority basis. Imbalance in direct and indirect taxes should be managed. Petroleum products should be subsidized instead of looking at them as revenue streams.
Natural Resource: There is a misconception among general public regarding presence of plenty of untapped natural resources in Pakistan particularly in Balochistan. People are unwilling to accept the simple truth that there is a lack of natural resources in Pakistan. Petroleum product import is the biggest factor behind the trade imbalance. The natural gas might not be possible to import in the short term to offset supply-demand gap and Thar coal might not fulfill the promise as perceived by many in the country. Pakistan badly needs more dams; refineries and gas fields.
Human Resource: Nations now a day’s compete on the basis of human resources. Unfortunately human resource development has never been our priority. Budget allocation for education, training and health has always been below satisfactory levels.
Geographical: Pakistan should develop cordial ties with India on priority basis. Pakistan should create strategic nexus for commercial and technological exchange with China, Iran, Russia and Central Asian States and should have balanced ties with these neighboring countries. This does not mean Pakistan should not maintain cordial ties with west. We need to have a strategic game plan in this regard in order to turn our weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities.
Social: The country is plagued with so many social ills i.e., dual standards, nepotism, bribery, in-equality and un-healthy attitudes. People want to live beyond their means. We are gradually losing our courteous ways. Globalization is a real threat to our originality. There is a need to setup a national social order through which common values should be shared by all and Pakistan should stick to its social and cultural traditions otherwise it might lose its identity. Logic of religion is the key not the ancient rituals and traditions. Modernization should not be confused with westernization.