Global challenges and Pakistan
By Shamshad Ahmad
It was heartening to see the foreign Office publicly debating at a seminar its own role in meeting the global economic challenges. Like all earlier envoys' conferences, the four-day conference of our envoys in major capitals of the world must also have focused on this subject. A set of recommendations, as always in the past, may have emerged from the conference to be officially converted into policy guidelines for all concerned ministries and departments.
What happens (or does not happen) next is common knowledge. Policy guidelines emanating from previous envoys' conferences are nowhere to account for. One does not recall if there is any mechanism for "integrated and coordinated" follow-up and implementation of the outcomes of our envoys' conferences that could facilitate regular monitoring and review of progress in implementation of the decisions and guidelines by the relevant governmental agencies. If there is none, every major ministry should have a small review and monitoring cell headed by a senior officer and there should be periodic inter-ministerial coordination meetings among the heads of these cells.
But this is not the principal focal point here. I was struck by the candid acknowledgement by Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar, in his reported concluding remarks at the seminar that "Pakistan was not prepared to face the challenges of the future". If he said so, he has spoken the truth.
I am sure the foreign secretary's remarks about the performance of the economic ministries were meant to be only a reference point for the larger systemic complacency and inertia He was perhaps reminding our policy-makers that in order to meet the myriad challenges of the new age, Pakistan will have to be stable internally and have an agreeable profile externally. Internal strength requires political, economic and social stability achieved through strong and functional political institutions, viable economy, moderate...