ریلوے پھاٹک نہ ہونے کے باعث المناک حادثہ

عیدالاضحی کے روز سانگلہ ہل کے نواحی گاﺅں بڑوئیہ کے قریب، شالیمار ٹرین کی زد میں آکر موٹر سائیکل پر سوار3 سگے بھائیوں اور اُن کی دو ماموں زاد بہنوں کے ٹکڑے بکھر گئے۔ریلوے کے زوال کا ایسا پھاٹک کھلا ہے کہ غلام احمد بلور نے اس سستے اور پُر سہولت وسیلہ سفر کو تباہ کرکے رکھ دیا ، اُنہوں نے اتنا بھی نہ کیا کہ ٹرینیں نہ سہی کم از کم جہاں جہاں ریلوے پھاٹک نہیں وہاں پھاٹک ہی لگوا دیتے،کیا یہ پھاٹک لگوانا مرنے والوں کی ذمہ داری تھی جو چند ٹرینیں بچی ہیں اور پٹڑیوں پر چل رہی ہیں اُن کی اپنی حالت تو کیا پٹڑیوں کی حالت بھی ناگفتہ بہ ہے اور یہ اکیسویں صدی میں بھی ریلوے پھاٹک نہ ہونا ایک المیہ ہے جس نے کتنے المیے جنم دئیے، وزارت ریلوے جس قدر جلد ممکن ہو اُن تمام جگہوں پر پھاٹک لگوادے جہاں پھاٹک موجود نہیں، اگر سانگلہ ہل کے نواحی گاﺅں کی عام سڑک پر ریلوے پھاٹک موجود ہوتا اور موقع پر ہی بند کردیا گیا ہوتا تو بیک وقت پانچ معصوم بہن بھائیوں کی جانکاہ ہلاکت کا سانحہ نہ ہوتا،جس خاندان کے پانچ جنازے ایک ساتھ اُٹھے اُن پر کیا گزر رہی ہوگی،اُس کا احساس ریلوے کراسنگ لیول پر پھاٹک نہ لگانے والے ذمہ داروں کو ہوناچاہئے اور ریلوے کے حکام بالا کو اس سنگین کوتاہی کی نہ صرف سزا دی جائے بلکہ ملک بھر میں جہاں بھی ریلوے پھاٹک موجود نہیں وہاں فی الفور پھاٹک لگائے جائیں اور اہلکار تعینات کئے جائیں جو ٹرین کی آمد سے قبل ہی پھاٹک بندکردیں تاکہ آئندہ اس نوعیت کا المناک حادثہ رونما نہ ہو، عوام الناس کو بھی محتاط رہناچاہئے اور جہاں پھاٹک موجود نہیں وہاں دونوں جانب اچھی طرح تسلی کرکے کراسنگ کرنی چاہئے جلد بازی جان لیوا ہوسکتی ہے۔ وزیراعلیٰ پنجاب نے موقع پر پہنچ کرسوگوار خاندان سے اظہار تعزیت کیا یہ مستحسن اقدام ہے۔ سپریم کورٹ از خود نوٹس لیکر وزارت ریلوے کو حکم دے کہ اتنی مدت میں ہر کراسنگ پر پھاٹک لگا کرعملدرآمد کی رپورٹ پیش کی جائے۔

Deadly storm hits US coast, cripples life

Millions affected; mandatory evacuation ordered in low-lying areas; Obama cancels polls campaign; $20 bn losses feared; services, schools, stock exchanges closed down; up to 12 inches of rain expected

NEW YORK: Hurricane Sandy, one of the biggest storms ever to hit the United States, began battering the densely populated East Coast of the USA on Monday, shutting down transportation, forcing evacuations in flood-prone areas and interrupting the presidential campaign.

The fierce winds and flooding were expected along hundreds of miles of Atlantic coast and heavy snows were forecast farther inland at higher elevations when the centre of the storm moves ashore on Monday night near Atlantic City.

US stock markets closed for the first time since the attacks of Sept 11, 2001, and the government in Washington shut down schools. About 150,000 customers were without power by midday and millions more could lose electricity.

“This is going to be a big and powerful storm and all across the Eastern seaboard I think everybody is taking the appropriate preparations,” President Barack Obama said at the White House.

State governors from Virginia to Massachusetts warned of the acute danger from the storm for the 60 million residents in its path. Nine states have declared a state of emergency. Experts said economic losses from the storm could reach $20 billion.

“There will undoubtedly be some deaths that are caused by the intensity of this storm, by the floods, by the tidal surge and by the waves. The more responsibly citizens act, the fewer people will die,” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley told reporters.

Off North Carolina, the US Coast Guard rescued 14 of the 16 crew members who abandoned the replica tall ship HMS Bounty, using helicopters to lift them from life rafts. The Coast Guard continued to search for the two missing crew members.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the Category 1 storm had strengthened as it turned towards the coast and was moving at 18 miles per hour (30 km per hour). It was expected to bring a “life-threatening storm surge,” coastal hurricane winds and heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains, the NHC said.

In Fairfield, a Connecticut coastal town and major commuter point into Manhattan, police cruisers blocked the main road leading to the beaches and yellow police tape cordoned off rocky side entrances.

Beach pavilions were boarded up with plywood, and gusts of wind rocked parked cars.“People are definitely not taking this seriously enough,” police officer Tiffany Barrett, 38, said. “Our worst fear is something like Katrina and we can’t get to people.”

Some 250 miles to the south, several feet of water flooded streets in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, which could be right in the target zone of the storm.Police knocked at doors on Sunday, reminding people there was a mandatory evacuation. While the police took names, they allowed residents to stay at their own risk.

Forecasters said Sandy was a rare, hybrid “super storm” created by an Arctic jet stream wrapping itself around a tropical storm.

The combination of those two storms would have been bad enough, but meteorologists said there was a third storm at play – a system coming down from Canada that would effectively trap the hurricane-nor’easter combo and hold it in place, amplifying the inland flooding effects.

Moreover, the storm was coming ashore at high tide, which was pulled even higher by a full moon.The storm interrupted the presidential campaign with eight days to the election.

Obama canceled a campaign event in Florida on Monday so he could return to Washington and monitor the US government’s response to the storm. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney canceled campaign on Monday night and Tuesday.

While Sandy does not pack the punch of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005, it has been gathering strength as it approaches the US coast. It killed 66 people in the Caribbean last week before pounding US coastal areas as it moved north.

The winds were at a maximum of 90 mph (150kph), the NHC said in its 11am (1500 GMT) report, increasing throughout the day.

Tropical storm-force winds reached as far as 485 miles (780 km) from the center.New York and other cities and towns closed their transit systems and schools, ordering mass evacuations from low-lying areas ahead of a storm surge that could reach as high as 11 feet (3.4 meters).

By early Monday, water was already topping the seawall in Manhattan’s Battery Park City, one of the areas evacuated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

He ordered 375,000 New Yorkers to evacuate and told those who remained to leave immediately. “Conditions are deteriorating rapidly and the window for you getting out safely is closing.”

All US stock markets were closed on Monday and possibly Tuesday, the operator of the New York Stock Exchange said, reversing an earlier plan that would have kept electronic trading going on Monday.

The United Nations, Broadway theaters and New Jersey casinos were forced to close, and more than two-third of the East Coast’s oil refining capacity was in the process of shutting down.

Airlines canceled flights, bridges and tunnels closed, and national passenger rail operator Amtrak suspended nearly all service on the East Coast. The US government told non-emergency workers in Washington DC to stay home.

The storms could cause up to 12 inches (30cm) of rain in some areas, as well as up to 3 feet (1metre) of snowfall in the Appalachian Mountains from West Virginia to Kentucky.

While Sandy’s 90mph (150kph) winds were not overwhelming for a hurricane, its exceptional size means the winds could last as long as two days. Up and down the coast, worried residents in the hurricane’s path packed stores, searching for generators, flashlights, batteries, food and other supplies in anticipation of power outages.

Johnny Lopez, an owner of Best Buy Wines and Liquors in Brooklyn, said he plans – “God help us!” – to stay open all day on Monday and Tuesday.

Hurricane Sandy may leave 1900 Galveston storm behind in destruction

LAHORE: Hurricane Sandy, which is likely to affect the lives of 60 million residents of the United States in hours and days to come, is bound to prove deadlier than the Sept 9, 1900 Galveston city storm that had led to the deaths of 6,000-12,000 Americans after roaring ashore from the Gulf of Mexico.

Galveston is a city in the American state of Texas.

A few years ago, widely watched American news channel ‘MSNBC’ rated the Galveston Hurricane to be the worst natural disaster in the US history, “with huge storm surges and howling winds of at least 130 mph.”

An MSNBC report of Sept 22, 2005 stated: “The port city, then one of the wealthiest in America in terms of per-capita income, lay in ruins; it would take decades to rebuild Galveston although it never recovered its former glory.”

Meanwhile, a May 7, 2008 report of the MSNBC news channel carried details of the 10 deadliest hurricanes of all times, placing the 1970 “Bhola cyclone” on top of all the worst storms in the world history.

The 2008 MSNBC report stated: “The deadliest tropical cyclone in recorded history had hit East Pakistan in 1970. Low-lying islands were inundated, and entire villages were wiped out on November 12, 1970, when the “Bhola cyclone” swept over the Bengal coast. Crops were destroyed throughout the region. The storm and its aftermath killed as many as 500,000 people. At the time, East Pakistan was a province separated from the rest of Pakistan by hundreds of miles of Indian Territory. Political discord had been in the air even before the storm, but the Pakistani government came under severe criticism for its mishandling of relief operations afterward.”

According to MSNBC, storms in the Bay of Bengal have accounted for seven of the 10 deadliest hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones in recorded history.

The website of the noted US channel had revealed that the 1737 Hooghly River cyclone hitting India and Bangladesh had killed 350,000 human beings.

It said the 1881 Haiphong typhoon in Vietnam had perished 300,000 Vietnamese and the 1839 Coringa cyclone in India had led to 300,000 deaths.

According to “MSNBC,” the 1876 Backerganj cyclone in Bangladesh claimed 200,000 lives, the 1897 Chittagong cyclone striking Bangladesh killed 175,000 people and the 1975 Super Typhoon Nina in China led 1,71,000 people to their graves before time.

The US channel had maintained in its afore-quoted report four years ago while the 1991 Cyclone 02B rocking Bangladesh killed 140,000 people, the Great Bombay Cyclone of 1882 claimed a hundred thousand scalps in India.

As far as Hurricane Sandy is concerned, the October 28, 2012 edition of the esteemed British newspaper “The Daily Telegraph” wrote: “New York’s rail, subway and bus services, which are used by 8.5 million people daily, are being suspended amid fears that tunnels could flood. The New York Stock Exchange announced it would close its physical trading floor for the first time since 1985, and make transactions only electronically on Monday. The storm is expected to hit an 800-mile wide swath of north-east America that includes the cities of New York, Washington, Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia, bringing 80mph winds.”

The afore-cited edition of the “Daily Telegraph” had added: “Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, ordered casinos in Atlantic City to shut and the gambling hub’s 30,000 residents were being taken to shelters. More than 5,000 flights into east coast airports have been cancelled. That included 2,300 on Monday at Newark, and New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, and 650 at Philadelphia. More than 60,000 National Guard troops in nine states have been put on standby.”

Exodus of thousands as Myanmar unrest toll reaches 88

SITTWE: At least 88 people have been killed in sectarian bloodshed in Myanmar this month, the authorities said on Monday, with more than 26,000 others forced to flee a wave of rioting and arson.

Seething resentment between Buddhists and Muslims erupted this week in new unrest in Rakhine state that has seen whole neighbourhoods razed and caused boatloads of people to flee from Rohingya minority areas. Four more deaths were reported, although they were believed to be from earlier clashes.

“Altogether 49 men and 39 women have been killed,” a government official told AFP, bringing the total death toll since June to about 180. Rights groups fear the actual number killed could be much higher.

“About 300 houses were burnt down in Pauktaw town on Sunday but there were no casualties in that incident,” said the official, who did not want to be named.

Tens of thousands of mainly Muslim Rohingya are already crammed into squalid camps around the state capital Sittwe after deadly violence in June and Rakhine state officials said the latest bloodshed had caused an influx of boats carrying around 6,000 people to the city.

“The local government is planning to relocate them to a suitable place. We are having problems because more people are coming,” said Rakhine government spokesman Hla Thein.

Authorities struggled to provide aid to the displaced, some of whom were still on boats while several thousand had docked on an island opposite Sittwe.

Human Rights Watch on Saturday released satellite images showing “extensive destruction of homes and other property in a predominantly Rohingya Muslim area” of Kyaukpyu — where a major pipeline to transport Myanmar gas to China begins.

The images show a stark contrast between the coastal area as seen in March this year, packed with hundreds of dwellings and fringed with boats, and in the aftermath of the latest violence, where virtually all structures appear to have been wiped from the landscape.

HRW said 633 buildings and 178 houseboats and barges had been torched in the area, one of seven townships affected by the latest strife. The group urged the government to protect the Rohingya, who it said were under “vicious attack”.

“Unless the authorities also start addressing the root causes of the violence, it is only likely to get worse,” said HRW deputy Asia director Phil Robertson.

The United Nations earlier said 3,200 had made their way towards shelters in Sittwe, with several thousand more on the way. Before night fell, boatloads of Rohingya were visible outside one camp in a coastal area on the outskirts of Sittwe, according to residents.

“The security forces are not allowing them to come in. Some people are on the shore and some are still on their boats,” camp inhabitant Kyaw Kyaw told AFP by telephone.

He added the group of several thousand people, including women and children, was believed to be from just two towns.

State media reported that almost 3,000 homes and 18 religious buildings had been torched during the latest fighting, which erupted on October 21 and spread to areas that had been largely untouched by the earlier conflict.

More than 170 people have been killed in the state since June, according to the authorities, who have imposed emergency rule in an attempt to control the violence.

But rights groups fear the real toll could far exceed official figures.

The Pakistani liberal

Reading the comments on any opinion piece of The Express Tribune or watching news channels in Pakistan, one enters the fascinating world of the ‘Pakistani liberal’. A Pakistani liberal is a multifaceted animal. He, and I believe, also she, likes their T-shirt and jeans one size too small; likes to go around in big cars; eats at expensive restaurants; drinks alcohol like a fish; spends their holidays abroad; are variously in the pay of the United States, India, or Israel; keep quoting Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech; are responsible for Pakistan being dragged into the war on terror; are responsible for the continuation of drone attacks; support and pray for Malala Yousufzai but not people killed in drone attacks; supports (and does not support) the Great Khan; and, lest the erstwhile general gets annoyed, likes dogs. Obviously, this list of remarkable accomplishments can go on.
From the above, the Pakistani liberal sounds like a very powerful person and no wonder he is held responsible for so many things. After all, he is in control of almost every facet of Pakistani life and so should be held accountable for his actions. And while we are at it, let us also call to task the Pakistani liberal for the budget deficit (they keep up the spending and lower the tax collection due to nefarious plots) and the 2005 earthquake (they can alter the movement of tectonic plates).
However, I have one tiny problem with the description above. None of the characteristics above (and others usually used) describe a liberal in the classical or modern sense of the word. In brief, classical liberalism is rooted in individual freedom, equality, free markets and private property. To these concepts, modern liberalism has added the development of the welfare state and concern for social justice and civil rights. A liberal democracy is then a republic, which espouses and promotes such values.
The incongruence between what a liberal and a Pakistani liberal is cannot be starker. None of the descriptions above signify that the liberal believes in equality and civic rights, for example. Just imagine a rich Pakistani giving his/her ‘servants’ a fair wage and good employment conditions. Unthinkable. Or else we would not have horror stories of domestic help abuse and tenant abuse. Just imagine if the Pakistani liberal believed in social justice and the welfare state, then he would have to pay all his taxes and logically, the gap between the rich and the poor would not be that great. And just envision a Pakistani liberal allowing for individual freedom — the fun-loving, jeans-wearing, modern youth of Pakistan cannot simply allow you not to support the Great Khan. In short, the Pakistani liberal is the antithesis of what a liberal is actually meant to be.
So, who are these liberals that the Right (religious and others) decries and the Western media lauds? Hardly a week goes by without a vomit of words on either side. Opinion pieces in The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine lionise the ‘Pakistani liberals’, while pieces in the daily Jang and others blast the scheming Pakistani liberals. The impression given is that there is a war, existential and otherwise, going on between the liberals and the conservatives for the soul of the country and that both are numerous and powerful.
The sad truth is that perhaps, there are no real liberals in Pakistan. The ‘Pakistani liberal’ is a monolith, which is a remarkable feat of our collective imagination, with no discernible features or groupings. For the Right, a ‘Pakistani liberal’ is someone they do not like or agree with. Being called a ‘liberal’ is a pejorative term for them and encompasses a wide variety of people, who mostly have nothing else in common. For the Western (and other) champions of Pakistani liberals, they are living in the hope that there must be some actual liberals in Pakistan. Westerners lament the paucity of liberal voices in Pakistan simply because they hardly exist, not because they are present in large numbers and are simply beleaguered.
With the amount of airtime and importance given to the Pakistani liberal, all I can say in the end is, ‘All hail, my imaginary Pakistani liberal, friend and foe!’

Flaws in drug law

THE passage of the long-stalled Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) Bill through both houses of parliament within days of each other is only to be welcomed. Yet the hasty manner in which the bill was hurried through poses important questions about the bill’s timing and context.

The demand for a national drugs regulatory authority has been on the agenda since 2005 when the federal cabinet gave the nod to its formation. Since then, a tussle has been waged among various stakeholders over its composition, jurisdiction and functions. This ongoing discussion was given new urgency by the passage of the 18th Amendment which devolved drugs and medicine to provincial governments. However, the area of drugs’ regulation was thought fit to be reverted to a national mandate.

As a result, in February, a national drugs regulatory ordinance was proclaimed, giving it legal cover. Between the promulgation of the ordinance and the passage of the bill, noisy and insistent demands were heard from the pharmaceutical industry calling to regularise the ordinance. This led to the provinces passing a resolution authorising the federal government to legislate on drugs’ regulation so that a single policy across all provinces could be harmonised.

The recently passed bill fulfils this requirement. However, there was much toing and froing between different interests in the run-up to its passage, which showed up in three different drafts jostling for favourable placement in the final document. Press reports regarding the purpose and composition of DRAP raise serious questions.

DRAP is envisaged as regulating the import, manufacture, storage, licensing, registration and pricing of therapeutic drugs and medical devices in line with the Drugs Act 1976. However, unlike other national regulatory authorities, the language of the ordinance — which appears to be reflected in the bill — is very mechanical and does not set great store by public protection.

As such, not much is available by way of mechanisms on how to ensure the safety, quality and affordability of medicines, which is the major public health challenge facing Pakistan. The overwhelming emphasis seems to be on the pharmaceutical industry rather than on preventing the public from being exposed to unsafe or substandard drugs.

In line with this thinking no wider consultation involving civil society and citizen watchdog groups seems to have been conducted. Besides failing to prioritise drug safety and affordability, DRAP also lists the promotion of the export potential of the pharmaceutical industry as one of its functions. This should not, however, quite fall into DRAP functions as evidenced in the role played by such bodies worldwide. There is a danger here that DRAP might become an expo centre for the pharmaceutical industry. This constitutes a distraction from DRAP’s core functions.

Giving DRAP adequate and sustainable resources lies at the root of its viability, effectiveness and independence. Currently, its sources for funding are pretty uncertain. The federal government is to chip in with initial seed money that is to be supplemented with money from donors and other grants-disbursing international organisations. With such an uncertain funding base, what expectation can we entertain of DRAP being autonomous and independent? More importantly, with uncertain funding, it would be a tall order to field an enhanced enforcement force that is crucial to the functioning and legitimacy of the new authority.

The composition of DRAP is also lopsided in terms of being representative. Its policy board is composed of representatives from key ministries, the provinces and six experts to be drawn from the public and private sectors. While suspending judgment over what value government-appointed bureaucratic nominees are going to add to the supposedly independent functioning of DRAP, one is tempted to inquire about the selection of six other members, most of whom are to be drawn from the pharmaceutical industry with a sprinkling of public-health specialists. There are suggestions that one member may be from the army medical corps.

This is quite a lopsided selection as it does not include any representative from a wide array of patients’, health-rights research and advocacy bodies, consumer groups and citizens’ bodies that are overwhelmingly affected by the new legislation. Moreover, any inclusion of a member from the army medical corps would be unnecessary. If such a suggestion has been triggered by the recent ephedrine scandal, there are many ways to address it. Similarly, there is no clarity on the fate of drugs registration and licensing boards which used to decide on registering and licensing new medicines. Will these bodies be disbanded and their functions transferred to DRAP? My own sense is that DRAP will take over these functions. One indication of this comes from news reports of the pharmaceutical industry pushing DRAP to rush through 14,000 pending applications for new drugs.

Given that drugs licensing and registration procedures are riddled with irregularities, as shown in the recent scandals over the hasty and under-scrutinised approval of thousands of medicines in a single sitting, DRAP should not feel pressured. It should institute proper procedures, as is the case in other countries, with a view to determining the safety, quality and affordability of new, applied-for-registration drugs before waving them through.

DRAP should also focus on bringing traditional medicines, currently outside the purview of 1976 Drugs Act, into the registration net. One example of how DRAP can improve its wider role — apart from some of the criticism above — is by revisiting the Indian parliament’s 59th report of the parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare. This concerns the functioning of the central drugs standard control organisation.

By getting it right this time, DRAP can avoid policy failures which kept similar initiatives hamstrung in the past.

Regulation Pakistan-style

IT is time to look at the institutional aspect of regulation which has become the bane of private industry, and an impediment to growth. Getting the government to be an enabler rather than a disabler is the real challenge.

Since the 1970s the failure of the economic system can be traced to a deficiency of governance at one level or another, the most crucial of which was the desire of the state machinery to regulate most activities. It carried out this task by creating visible and invisible roadblocks. Small enterprises, in view of their size and limited managerial resources, suffer more than larger enterprises from cumbersome rules and regulations, their uncertain application and arbitrary amendments with little, if any, redress.

There is an urgent need to reduce the footprint of the state by dismantling the overextended regulatory framework and apparatus strangulating private activity and shackling the economy’s growth prospects.

A large part of the regulatory framework exists because of the lack of clarity on the role of government. In several instances, new products and instruments have become available that are more effective mechanisms for achieving the objectives underlying the existing laws or administrative arrangements for their enforcement.

For instance, the government has building and electricity inspectors to ensure the safety and security of private buildings used for public purposes. These services are not required if such buildings are comprehensively covered by insurance companies.

Through this instrument the owners of such buildings can be spared the frequent visits of these government functionaries, who would be denied the opportunity for extorting bribes. The security and safety of the public using these buildings would also be assured, since the private insurance companies would ensure proper construction and maintenance.

At times the regulations actually block private efforts to improve productivity, efficiency and sustainability of operations. For instance, the sugar industry needs restructuring to be viable, involving consolidation, mergers and closures of a large number of inefficient sugar mills with small capacities.

Unfortunately, the policies of provincial governments are irrational and inimical for this overdue shakeout in the industry. They prohibit the relocation and consolidation of mills required to achieve the economies of scale and maintain competitiveness, resulting in the reduction of the efficiency and productivity of investments.

The theological principle to regulate economic activity based on complete distrust of the market and a belief in the state’s omnipotence has restricted the space for private-sector operations. The role of markets is underestimated in the belief that the state is much more knowledgeable and objective and that markets are often rigged and imperfect and private behaviour shortsighted.

Even civil society in Pakistan is suspicious of markets and provides the bureaucracy with an excuse to regulate. The bureaucracy opts for direct controls rather than market-friendly fiscal rewards and punishments not only because of powers to extort money that this approach gives them but also because they prefer certainty of command and understand little about subtlety of induced behaviour.

Flawed conceptions drive us to mimic big countries in constructing complicated state apparatus. Unfortunately, donors also provide us uniform advice, persuading us to set up the same institutions as in developed countries.

Resultantly, regulators get established even before markets begin to function, in some cases with a regulator for each market, at times two regulating the same market — for example the State Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan are simultaneously regulating financial institutions, and in the case of modarabas there is the third regulator, the religious/Sharia board.

In several instances (e.g. Nepra, Ogra, PTA, Pemra etc) regulatory bodies have been created more to park retiring well-connected civil servants who clearly do not possess the skill set required to perform the job to which appointed

The official concept of a typical regulator is the head of the agency, two to three assistants (called ‘members’ — again mostly retired bureaucrats), PAs and peons, office space and several cars and cellphones! How the government views their utility is evident from its insistence that their decisions be implemented only after review and notification by government!

Owing partly to the nature and history of Pakistan’s economic development, where even the middle class was not the product of a dynamic growth process but was created through public-sector employment, we seemingly cannot visualise economic growth without support and patronage. Thus, civil society continues to view the state as an all-powerful paternal entity that is supposed to protect us against all risks and also provide for all occasions. Not surprising then that government continues to be large and unaccountable and rules rather than serves.

Every good organisation makes periodical attempts to clean up its own house. All procedures and practices are subject to a fresh review. However, our governments hardly ever question their own mechanisms and practices, except to protect their interests and those of the civil servants. Many agencies in the public sector are moribund with little or no accountability for the quality of their output, even for the delivery of services. Hence, there is a need to redefine their role and the way they carry out their business, which would involve a major reduction in the areas of their activity.

The demands of a globalised economy require the private sector to adopt internationally recognised technologies and management practices to remain competitive globally.

However, the government, which is supposed to facilitate the private sector, and also expects it to become modern in its outlook, sees nothing wrong with its own skills and work processes being antiquated. This huge contradiction is unsustainable requiring adjustments in the size and skill base of the bureaucracy, 45 per cent of which is hardly educated!