Institutional cultures are almost impossible to change. Institutions designed for control cannot deliver facilitation. There are only four countries (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) in the world that have continued with the colonial administrative set ups with disastrous consequences. On July 01, 1997 United Kingdom handed over Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Chris Patton was the last governor to live in the Colonial Mansion. Once the car drove him out for the airport the Governor’s house was converted into a museum. No Chinese ever lived in it. The Colonial era came to an end right at that moment of freedom.

Dismantling the walls of the Governor’s Mansion in Lahore are not enough. Seventy-one years is a long transition. The official representative of the Federal government in order to function does not require an area of 700 Kanals right in the centre of the city. The current incumbent does not even reside there. I agree with the Prime Minister (PM), it is a replica of our colonial past. The offices can be easily moved to another small building on the Shahrae Quaid-e-Azam. The Free Masons Hall can easily accommodate Sarwar Sahib and his team. The colonial mansion can then be used as a centre for public policy where future change managers can be trained to dismantle the colonial order that continues to control the people of Pakistan.

As a nation our freedom remains incomplete till all colonial controls are replaced with facilitation networks. This has not happened in over seven decades; the people have survived by defying the inspectors that come to haunt them. Recently the Minister of Industries in Punjab has announced that visits of the tormentors would be controlled to facilitate businesses. At least a start in the right direction has been made to protect the drivers of our economy.

The inspiration to write this article came from a recent personal experience. I tried to visit a government office, the door was locked from inside. On inquiry I was told that the officer was attending to some personal business. After about half an hour the door was opened. When we went inside, we were told that he had to leave to inquire about the health of his close relative. The staff car arrived and off went the officer leaving all his official business and suffering people behind.

From my student days in USA I remember reading a notice outside all important government offices saying, “The door will remain open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, if locked please call this telephone number. Hours of public contact could not be curtailed by individuals on duty. I wondered whom to contact in this situation in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan a so-called democracy. Then comes the government provided transport that is blatantly misused against public interests. This abuse of perks has to be curtailed to serve and facilitate the masses instead of facilitating the officers of the ‘Royal Colonial Bureaucracy’.

Today (Feb 04, 2019) the Prime Minister (PM) launched the health card (Sehat Insaf) programme under which the needy citizens would be able to get medical attention. In order to create a Welfare State the PM has indicated that all programmes of people’s wellbeing would be unified. This is an excellent idea as such scattered initiatives in the past have not been effective. During the term of Muhammad Khan Junejo a ‘Nai Roshni Programme’ was launched to comply with the constitutional requirement (25A) of universal primary education. After his fall the direction was changed. It then became PMLC (Prime Minister’s Literacy Commission). Thousands of home schools were established all over the country. A massive teacher’s training programme was launched. Matriculation was the only educational requirement to become a teacher to run a home school. When Benazir Bhutto’s government ended the entire initiative was handed over to the ‘Royal Colonial Bureaucracy’ of federal the Ministry of Education which proved to be a beginning of the end.

Then came the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) under Pervez Musharraf. Dr. Nasim Ashraf an expatriate and close friend of the General assured him that he would ensure education and health for the entire population. He promised to raise funds in USA while the local component would be provided by the government. Musharraf was so impressed by the programme that the head office of NCHD was located within the PM Secretariat and so was NRB (National Reconstruction Bureau) that was responsible for devolution of power all the way down to the ‘Tehsil’ level. In the end the ‘Royal Colonial Bureaucracy’ had the last laugh. People of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan remain powerless, illiterate and unhealthy thanks to their controls that remain intact.

In order to combat hunger, I had proposed the formation of a ‘Food Bank’ to deliver basic staples to the needy at their door steps. Instead of food, the People’s Party government decided on financial dole outs under Benazir Income Support Fund (BISP). The corruption ridden programme has continued since then with limited success.

The Royal Colonial Bureaucracy of Pakistan has to be dismantled if facilitation of the masses is required otherwise it will be control as usual. Our journey to freedom that was disrupted in October 1958 has to be re-started. In August 1973 Islamic Republic of Pakistan became a constitutional democracy. The sacred document has to be followed in letter and spirit. Service to the people is a basic ingredient that has been missing all along.

 

The Writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.

 fmaliks@hotmail.com