The Musharraf boom has ended. The proverbial begging bowl that Shaukat Aziz had so imperially broken has come out again and our leaders are using it unashamedly. Age-old prescriptions are being pulled out. New loans from here, push this crop or that industry, some financial engineering, a number of development projects, and some new taxes and subsidies and Pakistan will be on the path to development. Will it? Pakistan is a nation of shortcuts (no pun) We are all looking for the easy way out - quick fixes. Unfortunately, development will only be achieved when economic growth accelerates and is widely distributed. This cannot happen through the usual solutions More of the same - development projects, subsidies, some financial engineering and some sector picking - will give us more of the same. Growth and development will only happen only when i). productivity and efficiency have increased everywhere in the economy, ii). the space for entrepreneurship is expanded, iii). a small and focused public sector plays a supportive not an imperial role in society, and iv). system of perks and privileges is replaced with merit. How will this happen? There are no shortcuts. We have had years of shortcuts with no results. The new buzzword should be reform, sustained reform. Sustained reform for the objective of modernising our institutions, markets, laws and regulations and our public sector What reform? The 4 prerequisites for growth will give us a clue as to the nature of required reform. " Needless to say the fundamental building block of "efficiency and productivity" is an education system based on global norms and engendering creativity. However developing productivity is far more than building schools, our normal response. Productivity is developed in an environment of liberty and freedom. It is even more enhanced when free, emancipated and creative individuals cluster in open, dense and multidimensional urban centres. " The current system of licensing, zoning and regulation favours the industrialist and the large. The new system should allow the poor entrepreneur entry into the market, city and the privileged sphere. " Ministers, civil servants and generals, jetting around in their private plans and their 'elite force' encourages have achieved a system of perks and privilege that many ancient kings and dukes would be envious of. The old aristocracy was never as bereft of responsibility as our current rulers are. Reform must remove this absurd privilege and introduce responsibility at every level. Government and its functionaries must understand the social contract and be subject to it not above it. " Increased productivity requires not only education but space for creativity and a strong emphasis on meritocracy everywhere. Thus the current privilege system that confers wealth and privilege ranging from plots to entrance to elite schools and clubs, on the basis of 'connections' has to be dismantled and based on merit. A common theme runs through these four areas - end privilege, introduce merit, reduce government and regulation allow freedom and entrepreneurship. Ali Salman of the Alternative Solution Institute has confirmed for Pakistan what is well known in many parts of the world: Economic well being improves with freedom. And freedom means ending of privilege and the establishment of merit. Accelerating growth therefore depends on accelerating reform and its implementation. Yet in Pakistan despite reform remains a taboo topic. TV talk shows, opinion columns, living room discussions all shun reform as a topic. Instead we talk policy which seeks to continue current structures and is seldom more than a wish list. Reform which seeks "change of structures, systems and processes" to improve performance is a not subject for discussion in Pakistan. Why not? The answer is simple Like many pre-revolutionary classes, the Pakistani elite are incapable of giving up even the minutest privilege for achieving efficiency and productivity They would rather let a revolution happen than let their system of privilege be shaken. The writer is a former vice chancellor of PIDE E-mail: