A growing number of Pakistanis subscribe to the notion that our politics is best understood through the generalisation that nearly all political power is held by a relatively small and wealthy group sharing similar values and interests. That mostly comes from relatively similar privileged backgrounds. Most of the top leaders in nearly all key sectors of society are recruited from the same social group. Late Dr Mehboobul Haq had blamed 22 families in Pakistan for the concentration of wealth and resources. But now this group has expanded and may now exceed to several hundred families. These families have interlocking marital ties, enormous corporate and financial interests, and old school ties. They interact not only in the corporate board rooms, but also in gymkhanas, golf clubs, beauty and slimming parlours to name a few places of interest within the country. When it gets hot, or life becomes boring, there are foreign trips to be undertaken. There is so much excitement in the new arrivals at Antwerp, Belgium. Friends in the group may insist on a visit to the Casinos off the French Riviera. There are quiet lunches and dinners to facilitate coordination between the top leaders in business, government, civic organisations, educational and cultural establishments and the mass media. This "power elite" can effectively dictate the main goals, if not always the practical means and details, for all really important government policy making by virtue of their control over the economic resources of the major business and financial organisations in the country. Their power is seen as based most fundamentally on their personal economic resources, and especially on their positions within the echelons of power. This elite does not really depend upon its ability to garner mass support through efforts to "represent" the interests of the common man. These few thousand movers and shakers, aligned with the guardians of our frontiers and their proxies, really run the country and determine the basic directions of public policy. They ensure protection of their financial, corporate interests, and the hold over their constituents in the rural areas. They have no qualms about manipulation of the powerless masses to choose those candidates that would effectively further the elitist agenda. It is for this reason that Pakistan has seen little progress in education, health, women empowerment, land reforms and the imposition of tax on agricultural incomes. Indeed, this vicious agenda formulated for self-serving expedient interests has to change. The first dent has been made by the Supreme Court, which has asked for the list of industrial and agricultural loan defaulters - this with a view to enforce recovery from the sharks. There is hope that it will continue to take action in all those cases where wealth has been stashed abroad. Reform of Pakistans elitist economy involves the development and implementation of a long-term strategy stretching beyond the five-year tenure that elected governments enjoy. Pakistan needs to reprioritise its fiscal front in order to expand its fiscal space for development. The money should come from those who pay no taxes. Due to the influence of powerful feudals that grace the Assemblies, the federal government has argued that the imposition of any tax on agricultural income is a provincial subject and cannot, therefore, be legislated by the National Assembly. Yet in the case of levy of GST on services, which too is a provincial subject, the federal government did not hesitate to legislate. If RGST is imposed, it will not hurt the class that is not in the habit of paying taxes; but it is the poor classes that will have to pay the tax. Both the magnitude and the composition of federal spending in the last three years have undermined macroeconomic stability and sustainability, and these trends must change. There is no need to build parliamentary lodges in Islamabad, if the government cannot find the resources for rebuilding schools destroyed by the Taliban. Perhaps, the resources for this purpose cannot be found because the children of the elite do not go to such schools. The compression of development spending to accommodate runaway recurrent costs is neither consistent with fiscal sustainability, nor is an improvement in the external account, built on restrained imports needed for investment and capital development. Diversion of such funds presumably to fight the war on terror undermines the efforts such as Aghaaz-e-Haqoo-e-Balochistan The propagandist approach has not befooled the people of Balochistan, who have looked upon the programme with loathing and contempt, especially as most of the promises remain unimplemented. The diversion of funds from the development budget for non-productive purposes denies the right of education to children. Those who wish to see Pakistan steeped in ignorance and poverty have to be ignored. The state has to take drastic measures to improve the quality of education and facilities for scientific and technical education. NAVTEC has been a disaster from the time it was established by our commando President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf; it should be wound up. If law and order is maintained at all times, which is the primary duty of the state, and soft loans are provided for income generating schemes, economic activities will begin once again throughout the country. The rate of unemployment will decline and social unrest will abate. The writer is a member of the former Civil Service of Pakistan.