Maleeha Lodhi and the other contributors of Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ successfully provide critical policy recommendations addressing the systematic plus fundamental challenges encountered by the state, as means to bring about long-term stability. It is argued that the current commotion and turmoil in the state of Pakistan is a result of a lack of official effort for future planning.
Historian Ayesha Jalal discusses Pakistan’s neglect of history beyond the emotional framework, while Akbar S. Ahmed, who holds value in modern-day Islam, argues that following the vision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s inclusive Pakistan could have averted several challenges.
Mohsin Hamid investigates the poor tax collection mechanism of Pakistan, and how it hinders the development of the state. Moreover, Zaid Haider talks about Pakistan’s struggles with terrorism and extremism. He states that when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the first civilian ruler of Pakistan after military dictatorships, the state wasted an opportunity to establish civilian supremacy.
However, it is critical to take into account that several peace dialogues and processes with terrorist organizations in Pakistan have failed, and military action has yielded the most prominent results. Lastly, journalist Zahid Hussain discusses the battling militancy in Pakistan. He advises for the Taliban’s rise to be combatted through political mobilization rather than employing militancy.
Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ effectively provides short and long-term reforms required which include improving public institutions of the state, ensuring checks and balances, and generating competent civil servants. However, it is also stated that the imposition of these reforms requires a vision and mechanism for implementation. Moving forward, this book also highlighted the requirement for syncing the politics of the country with its social, economic, and technological shifts.
These shifts are responsible for generating a connected Pakistani society and transforming the national landscape. Examples of this include instigating electoral reforms for the purpose of promoting the participation of the educated middle class in politics. This will cause the needs of individuals to be addressed, and measures for improvement can be undertaken accordingly.
With respect to redesigning governance policies, it is also essential to understand that democracy is incomplete without the presence of the rule of law. Hence, the judicial system should be strengthened, with checks and balances introduced. Justice should be available to the citizens of Pakistan, including those with lower socioeconomic standing.
Another critical element for political stability is good civil-military relations. The military should be responsible for providing oversight, while civilian politicians should go according to constitutional norms and resolve disputes without military involvement. The book further discusses the need for an economic revival in Pakistan. Both short and long-term reforms should be undertaken to ensure macroeconomic stability in Pakistan.
Macroeconomic stability is dependent on financial balances that are a result of the effective mobilization of resources. In this regard, the revenue of Pakistan should be expanded by taxing the elites and adding exempted sectors like agriculture into the taxation regime. As a result, the revenue generation of Pakistan will increase and resources shall be mobilized.
Hence, the state should play a key role in introducing an environment for economic growth, as it will also lead to job creation and address unemployment in Pakistan. An environment for economic growth can be generated by addressing the infrastructural deficits, developing a framework for the regulation of economic activities, and crowding out public investments.
Economic revival can also be introduced through the agricultural sector. For this purpose, investments in rural infrastructure should be undertaken, effective incentives should be introduced, along with land reclamation, development of technology, and employment of international market rules. Such actions can aid the country in being promoted to a food reservoir for the region, which will impact its economic standing positively.
The promotion of industrial growth plus expansion is dependent on supporting local enterprises and encouraging manufacturing sectors to seek competitive advantages in the markets. The book further analyses the critical need for human development in Pakistan. The state should set targets for providing universal primary education. In addition, combating poverty and ending violence against women are also part of the wider need for human development in Pakistan.
In order to combat terrorist organizations, the state should generate awareness and combat public support for militant organizations. In this manner, recruitment into such organizations will be prevented and radicalization shall be reduced. With respect to meeting national objectives and strategic goals, Pakistan needs to reinstate its foreign policy and improve on diplomatic fronts.
The main objective of the state is to ensure peace in Afghanistan by ending terrorism within the region. Concerning India, deterrence should be maintained while also potentially exploring grounds for trade and economic relations. Strategic and economic relations should be maintained with China and a stable relationship of mutual interest with the US.
In Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’, Maleeha Lodhi was able to successfully assemble influential academics, writers, and policymakers under a single volume to provide insider perspectives on the depleting situation of Pakistan from various angles.
However, it can be argued that this book provides a one-sided perspective on the issues of Pakistan, and the role of the military is largely deemed as negative despite their extensive contribution to the state. The book also argues against military association with politics without taking into account the political vacuum created by incompetent civilian leaders.
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