Rameeza Majid Nizami This week, by happy coincidence, I found myself in attendance at Marvi Memons roundtable conference. In assembly, were parliamentarians, lawyers, doctors, educationists, human rights activists and pop stars. Ms Memons quirky, but inclusive, collection of passionate Pakistanis all echoed the view that change in Pakistan was needed. Change in the way we live, change in the way we dispense and perceive justice, change in the way we work, educate and interact with each other. The collection of problems facing Pakistan is intimidating, but by no means impossible to solve. It may take a decade, but there is hope if that decade starts today. If it starts a hundred years from now - that is a 110-year plan, not a 10-year plan. And Im not sure any of us is willing to wait that long. Priorities are often placed in mistaken order of importance dictated by suspicion, insecurity and not enough information. The trouble with priorities is that if you dont set them, then you cannot in all seriousness complain that nothing is being done about the things of most import to you. After all, we have unlimited areas which need our attention and limited resources to devote to them. In this atmosphere, the ideal decision of priorities should come from 'enlightened self-interest by voters. The concept is an appropriate one, especially in the context of the impending general elections. If voter priority continues to remain voting on the basis of zaat, biradari, etc, then traditional politics, as it has been practiced in Pakistan, will not have changed no matter how much euphoria was felt after the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf jalsa on Sunday (October 30). Manifestos, in theory, are what ought to dictate who a vote is cast for; however, that has not proven to be the case for the Pakistani voter as yet. The position of various parties on sectors, most importantly health and education, are spoken of in loose, ambivalent terms. One would be hard pressed to find an analyst, who could actually state what these policies are. Most politicians on these complex and essential sectors sound as simplistic as, we are going to do something about them. What that something is, where the money will come from, how they will go about it, how long it will take to come into effect and how far up it is on their priority list are not questions which are answered to satisfaction - or for that matter asked as seriously as they ought to be by the media or prospective voters. Take health, for example: Briefings at the roundtable conference revealed that Pakistan will be unable to fulfil its Millennium Development Goals, while India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will. How many of us know the percentage of our GDP spent on health versus what we wish it to be? The education sector is another worry, especially as we are a country with 70 percent of its population under 30 and one in two persons who are not yet 20. The 'demographic dividend, which is touted as one of Pakistans assets, will only be an asset if a young population is provided with the training and opportunities necessary for it to prosper and power Pakistan out of its current crisis. At the moment, optimistic estimates state that 2 percent of our GDP is spent on the education sector. In contrast, 40 percent goes towards defence. For now, we are managing, and not too well at that. If we are to move towards development and progress, we will have to set priorities. What is important enough to come first? Which luxuries will we have to do without? It is illogical and unreasonable to accept statements from political parties, which lay blame on any one regime and which offer solutions to all the ills we suffer from. We will have to accept that we can't have it all and decide what we must afford and what we may not be able to, despite our desire to do so. Selfish self-interest is the order of the day. What is in yours? Email: rnizami@nawaiwaqt.com.pk