Drivers urgently needed for common good

In the absence of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), transparency, and accountability nothing can be delivered. There is no mechanism nor drivers to strive for common good. The nation is at the mercy of cyclones and hurricanes. For its logical completion every journey needs a driver and a road map in the absence of which it is a whirlpool of confusion, while the corrupt have meticulously developed detours of corruption, the honest cluelessly complain of foul play. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is seriously short of drivers who can steer for common good.

As the first born free generation of Pakistan we have gone through several shades of both nation building and bashing. Till the decade of the seventies, the right to travel was only limited to the elite. Application for a passport had to be attested by a class I gazetted officer for this facility. The elected government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) ensured this right, which was then exercised by the common folks to seek employment abroad. People left in hordes; it is their foreign exchange remittances that sustains the country today.

Qayyum Khan as Interior Minister formulated a SOP to reform the procedure of obtaining a passport. As verification of individuals was difficult a scheme of Identity Cards was initiated. It was a manual system. The Postman could certify address details and cards were issued which then became the basis for passport application. In my final year of engineering I applied for a passport through mail. After fifteen days I received a letter from the Regional Office located in Muslim Town informing me to pick up the passport. Following the SOP, I replied that it should be mailed on my home address as I did not want to miss classes. Prompt came the request for personal appearance only once to collect the document which I did. In 1979 I travelled on this passport on an academic journey that continues till today.

People’s Government lived up to its promise. Qayyum Khan was an able and honest politician who overhauled the entire passport directorate through SOPs transparency and accountability. He regularly visited the offices and personally redressed not just listened to public complaints.

Hanif Ramay as Chief Minister Punjab was brilliant. An honest, upright politician who served the province well. All the Arts Council complexes were built during his tenure. As a tribute to him his Namaz-e-Janaza was offered at the Lahore Alhamra. Mairaj Khalid was another great politician from Lahore who selflessly strived for change. In the end ZAB fell into the feudal trap by bringing in Nawab Sadiq Hussain Qureshi as CM. when the crunch time came there was no one to stand by him. Nawab Sahib was clueless.

Pakistan started off well. There was no shortage of able and honest drivers. Air Marshal Nur Khan led the Air Force from the front for a great performance in 1965. He then built the Pakistan Hockey Federation, Squash Federation, Cricket Board, PIA. It was a great journey built on honesty, common good and service to the nation.

Where are all the drivers of Pakistan? Why are they not at the helm of Naya Pakistan? The current system of selection is seriously flawed. Those who can deliver are deliberately kept out by those who cannot, mainly because of lack of transparency and accountability. Those who lobby for positions seldom deliver.

‘Naya Pakistan’ needs new SOPs, the old ways cannot deliver. Drivers have to be identified through search committees or nominations. Solicitation is required to get the best available talent and then allowed to do their work. Our educational institutions are not producing the change managers to lead us in the 21st century. Most VC selection committees are grossly inadequate. In Punjab for decades the committee did not have a single real educationist with a terminal degree, yet all appointments were based on their recommendations. Finally the members were changed. SOPs are required for the formation of such important committees.

Theoretically speaking the elected representatives are expected to drive change for common good but they have repeatedly failed. This pseudo democracy and eleven disputed elections since 1977 have been disastrous for the nation. Imran Khan the sitting PM is doing his best to put the democratic order back on track but alone he cannot steer the ship out of the muddled waters.

An SOS (Save our Soul) message has to be loudly broadcast in search of drivers for common good. Abdullah Gul the former President of Turkey during his visit to Lahore was at a loss to understand why a country like Pakistan with its talented workforce could not turn it around. The answer is simple, the enemy is within. Like the guerrillas of Lawrence of Arabia who played a key role in dismembering the Ottoman Empire, their left overs remain in the land of the pure. When the Lahoris came to know that Lawrence was hiding in the Nedous Hotel (New Avari) there were demonstrations all over the city. He ran away leaving his wife behind. Drivers like Qayyum Khan and Hanif Ramay are needed to get rid of the Lawrences that remained, without such able stewardship this rudderless ship will get nowhere. Drivers, SOPs, transparency and accountability is the way forward. No nation can survive without striving for common good.

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