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Former senator Farhatullah Babar speaks at the book launch on Monday. PTI’s Nadeem Afzal Chan and Senator Mussadiq Malik of the PML-N are also seen. — White Star
Former senator Farhatullah Babar speaks at the book launch on Monday. PTI’s Nadeem Afzal Chan and Senator Mussadiq Malik of the PML-N are also seen. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: A think tank on Monday launched a book of policy guidelines for the new government that also highlighted key policy issues currently facing the country.

The book, titled Pakistan: Mapping the Policy Agenda (2018-2023) is centred on the theme ‘Governing Pakistan Better’ and was launched by the Islamabad Policy Institute.

It aims to provide the new administration and legislators with a comprehensive policy tool and reference guide in order to help them appreciate the complexity of various key policy areas before they can chart a new course to better govern Pakistan.

The book, which was published in collaboration with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, argues that the PTI-led government will face issues asserting democratic supremacy in addition to the usual governance and service delivery challenges.

Politicians call on govt to adopt collaborative approach to address national issues

The publication outlines policy options for the new government to tackle challenges in 16 key areas of governance.

The book is divided into two main sections, the first of which contains the think tank’s institutional recommendations and analysis of the manifestos of political parties to explore common ground for cooperation between the government and opposition on the critical challenges confronted by the country.

The second section is made up of 16 policy papers by leading experts on the economy, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, energy, water crisis, extremism and terrorism, education, health, access to justice, climate change, foreign policy, defence, freedom of expression and media and civil-military issues.

Politicians from various parties were also present to discuss their experiences, and called upon the government to adopt a collaborative and consensus-building approach to address national issues and place special emphasis on improving the implementation aspect of policies.

PTI’s Nadeem Afzal Chan said the country would have genuine democracy once the political parties that are the building blocks of this political fabric become democratic in their organisational structures.

“Health, economy and foreign policy are the issues affecting common people, these are not the issues are privileged people like us politicians. Real democracy with representation of common people could address these issues effectively,” he said.

PML-N Senator Mussadiq Malik said he hoped the PTI would continue with infrastructure projects initiated by previous government to benefit average citizens.

Citing the previous government’s efforts on power generation, he said the new administration should now address problems in transmission and distributed.

Referring to a recommendation, former PPP senator Farhatullah Babar said that a review of the nuclear posture is an important idea but is fraught with danger, as it brings to mind then-president Zardari’s offer of no first use to India that was rebuffed within days by the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

“Zero tolerance for violent extremism will be credible only if we are ready to face the truth, come out of denial mode and bring to closure the decade old Mumbai attack case. When militants like Maulana Masood Azhar are protected from UN sanctions with China’s help the claims of zero tolerance seem hollow,” he added.

Balochistan Awami Party Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar regretted that Pakistan was still being maligned despite immense sacrifices in the war against terrorism. He said there were elements within the country propagating that particular view and urged them to take a broader look at the affairs.

Allama Raja Nasir Abbas from the Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen pointed out that national institutions were weak and the government would have to undertake a massive reforms programme to revitalise them.

He also appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s assertion that Pakistan would not fight others’ wars and said this marks a strategic shift.

Senator Sitara Ayaz from the Awami National Party emphasised the need for internal stability, and called for strengthening parliament and urged the government to place greater focus on addressing the problems facing Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018