After forty years (1977 – 2017) of chaotic, mismanagement Pakistan needs out of the box solutions to restore order and move forward. In a functional system standard operating procedures (SOPs) are followed by individuals who work 9AM to 5PM, in a situation of collapse 5AM to 9PM people are needed who are currently in short supply in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Before moving out of the box, one first needs to explore what is inside. By an in-depth analysis at times solutions can be found within the box. In the seventies when defence production units like Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and Heavy Industries Taxila were being established there was a dearth of qualified technicians. Retired technical labour was recruited on the basis of salary plus retirement allowances. The Ministry of Finance insisted it should be salary minus pension which was unacceptable to the retirees. It was then decided to search within in the box for precedents. Interestingly two heavy weights were enjoying this facility. Baboo-e-Azam Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Waqar Ahmed were both drawing salaries plus pensions as such the objection of the Ministry of Finance could be overruled. Today the country is producing aircrafts and tanks thanks to the correct approach that was adopted then by the able managers at the helm. The Ministry was then headed by an able technocrat by the name of Engr Masood Hasan a very senior Chemical Engineer ( Chem-1 )

There is no shortcut to experience nor escape from honest hard work. ‘Perseverance Commands Success’ is the motto of Aitchison College, Lawrence College it is, ‘Never Give in’ at Cathedral School it is ‘Facta Non Verba’ and ‘Courage to Know’ at Government College University. These mottos are meaningful to shape the personalities of the learners. One must learn to dig in to find a solution either within or outside the box. One must never give-in without a struggle. There is so much room to manoeuvre within the box that it is mind boggling.

Almost all government departments have approved vacancies which are not filled, they are kept hidden for relatives and friends. Department heads should be penalised for not hiring unless there is a valid reason. With a bulging youth population, the country has serious unemployment challenge which can only be tackled by continuous hiring on merit.

There are several negative forces that operate within the box to strengthen status-quo. Their guile has to be understood and countered to move forward. It seems there is a conspiracy to stall progress and all this happens within the box. As Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) after filling all vacancies on merit I had to face an interesting situation. Most new hires wanted to apply to other departments, which was not understandable, so I decided to meet them. They complained that they were being kept on adhoc basis with no promise of permanent appointment. I sought clarification from the Grade-19 Admin Officer, he tried to pull a smart one, ‘Sir there is a directive from the PM Secretariat’ was his reply. I asked him to show the directive, interestingly it said, ‘May be appointed adhoc’ which meant if positions were not open, the foundation could hire on adhoc basis to provide employment. Under my strict orders permanent appointment letters were issued on the same day. All this happened within the box.

Over the years a lot of turf has been lost within box to the “mafias” who control the files. For meaningful change this space has to be recovered. An analogy can be drawn, in order to restore peace both Swat and Waziristan areas had to be cleared of the miscreants. Those who stall progress can also be categorised as administrative terrorists. Institutional cleansing is required to clean the boxes in which we operate; otherwise there can be no meaningful results.

Once the boxes are cleared of miscreants we can then venture outside for out of box solutions. After a long time a popularly elected leader is at the helm. Benazir Bhutto had a similar opportunity after winning the 1988 elections but she decided to compromise with the forces of status-quo.

In the famous Asghar Khan case several individuals have been convicted who should now face the music. IJI (Islami Jamhoori Ittehad) was a conspiracy against democracy, it was an out of the box blow to curtail the democratic process; such adventurism is harmful which badly hurt the nation.

Moving of the Governor’s House Lahore is certainly an out of box approach. It is a symbol of colonial authority. As a child growing up on the Mall I have both bitter and sweet memories of this building. We were lathi charged at three places to stop us from agitating outside the gates of this mansion of dictatorial authority. For the first time these gates were opened to the public when Ghulam Mustafa Khar became the governor. As he was the Chancellor we the students could walk into his office by showing our Identity Cards.

Dismantling the building or its portion is not permissible under the 1975 Preservation of Buildings Act this restriction exists within the box which should have been known. The judges of the Lahore High Court tried it in the nineties but were stopped by the public. As an out of box approach the Governor’s Office should be moved to a new location. The colonial mansion should then be converted into a centre for public policy on the lines of National Defence University to train the future civilian leadership of the country who can then operate both within and outside the box if needed in best public interests


The writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.