And what is wrong with today's world? she said. I cannot say yet what will come at the head of our list...but if you press me, my guess is that we will say the world is unfair. An unfair dispensation, an unfair state of affairs, that is what we will say-(J M Coetzee, Nobel Laureate for Literature, in Diary of a Bad Year). Mian Nawaz Sharif, PML-N leader and former two-time prime minister, basking in the success of his participation in the lawyers march and, as the consequence of his leadership, the restoration of the CJ, has yet made another categorical and public pledge to the nation. The charismatic Sharif, at his finest hour rejecting dependence on foreign financial aid, said the following in Dubai recently: "We don't need a penny from anybody because we have the resources to help us come out of the current economic crisis. All we need is good governance, honesty and will on the part of the government." In declaring his party's economic agenda, based on the premise of "National Self-Reliance," Nawaz Sharif seems to have his fingers on the nation's pulse. Nothing else will help ailing Pakistan, economically and politically, more than a socio-economic-political strategy of national self-reliance. "The only cure to the various diseases standing as barricades to a stable well-rooted democratic institutional state (i.e. Pakistan) seems to be an influence-free regime," wrote columnist Rauf Baker recently. And, indeed, foreign economic and financial assistance does not, cannot, and will not come without the strings of the self-interest objectives of the donor countries. Pakistan's incumbent government can go on dreaming and making loud noises to receive unconditional economic aid - but that will never happen. Period. Coming back to Nawaz Sharif's pledge for economic national self-reliance. First, notwithstanding the politically-motivated rhetoric and a symbolic appeal to national sentiment, the important question that needs to be asked is: Has the former prime minister and the entire PML-N leadership conceptualised this idea as an action-oriented political strategy and as an economic programme as well as a national policy platform? In simple words, how can the concept of national self-reliance be 'implemented' as a national policy? What can be done and how? These issues are vital: What fundamentals will have to be altered, transformed, melted down and replaced with what kind of economic, financial and political programmes? Who will design the new strategic blueprint of a revolutionary change in a six-decade-old flawed economic policy? In a switch-over to a national self-reliant economic model, a massive mobilisation of resources is required with concomitant industrial and managerial personnel. Has the PML-N leadership given any practical or reality-based conceptual shape to the management of this immense future nationwide enterprise? What the PML-N leadership has to understand is that residual imprints of an institutionalised system (such as Pakistan's diseased economic aid system) are unyielding and lasting - dismantling them is not an easy task. But that does not mean that a changeover to a new system is impossible. It will need painstaking efforts and absolute dedication to put the new ideas into a reliable, successful and sustainable working process. In present day Pakistan, the introduction of a "National Self-Reliance Doctrine" will be impossible to pursue without transformational theoretical development and conceptually-based plans. Contrary to general impression that a theory is a collection of abstract thoughts unrelated to ground realities, the fact is that theories are based on generalisations that occur regularly and are common in our daily lives. For example, if thick black clouds suddenly appear in monsoon season, rain will most certainly follow - this is a theory. In the most recent times, the prime example of a successful "economic theory" for National Self-Reliance in a Third World country is that of Dr Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh. Using what I would call his Positive-Human-Potentials-Economic-Incentive theory, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient pioneered the use of micro-credit to revolutionise the banking system in his country. The success of this enterprise is a story that needs to be told again and again - most specifically in Pakistan. Pardon me for being brutally judgmental, but the PML-N leadership does not seem to be fully and seriously prepared for a "National Self-Reliance" strategic plan or its future management. To the best of my knowledge, there is hardly an expert or theorist in the PML-N leadership who could provide precise guidance to plan "National Self-Reliance" dynamics. The PML-N as of date has not conducted seminars or conferences to brainstorm the idea or sought expert opinions on this matter of national importance. Policy analysts who have written consistently in favour of "National Self-Reliance" with explicitness and pointed precision over time (again to the best of my knowledge) have never been consulted or engaged in any kind of political dialogue by the PML-N managers. Neither has the party established a Policy Institute for the study, research and development of National Self-Reliance. Once again, to the best of my knowledge, the PML-N leader has never invited the most distinguished economic theorist of our times (in the Third World) Dr Muhammad Yunus for consultation and for paying homage to a person who was once a citizen of Pakistan - indeed, Pakistan could benefit from his contribution. Without a doubt, it would be a historic step to offer Dr Muhammad Yunus a top advisoryship in the party's hierarchy to formulate "National Self-Reliance" plans. It would be a gesture of great importance in modern interstate relations and would bring Pakistan and Bangladesh together in a fresh joint initiative. "National Self-Reliance" is a serious enterprise: It involves short-term and long-term planning, innovative approaches and its strategic depth constitutes all facets of national sociological, cultural, economic and political aspects and their revolutionary transformation, such as infrastructural changes, educational modulation, industrial reform, technological re-adjustments, strategic employment innovation, developmental project reform, and indigenous technologically-based research, etc. And a fundamental shift in interstate relations. Pakistan cannot remain a protg of the Anglo-American agenda in South-East Asia. The scope of such an endeavour to become self-reliant is wide and demands a revisionist transformation of the way politics has been conducted in this country for the last 60 years. But it must be done now - or we face a grim future that we are incapable of imagining. If Mian Nawaz Sharif can pull this off, he will be second to none other than Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the annals of this country's national history. It would be his magnum opus The choice is his We are at a crossroads: "...the claim (that the world has to be divided into competing economies because that is the nature of the world) is strained. If we have competing economies, we have them because we have decided that that is how we want our world to be. Competition is a sublimation of warfare. There is nothing ineluctable about war. If we want war we can choose war. If we want peace we can equally well choose peace. If we want competition we can choose competition; alternatively we can take the path of comradely collaboration" (J M Coetzee, Diary of a Bad Year). The writer is a professor, political analyst, and a conflict-resolution specialist E-mail: hl_mehdi@hotmail.com