The 'change is the current mantra in our political arena. In a previous article, entitled The quest for change, which was published in TheNation on November 14, an effort was made to identify the forces that are resistant to any political change in Pakistan. In their speeches and comments on various talk shows, our political leaders say that change is inevitable and the status quo has to go; none has so far come up with even an outline plan as to how this much desired change will be brought about. Change in a political system affecting the masses is not an instant formula; it is a sustained process spreading over long periods of time. In Pakistan, we have lost considerable time already, yet it may not be too late Some thoughts as to how a change may be brought about are discussed here; these are some basic ideas and need considerable inputs and elaborations from those who are expert in this field. Pakistan is a democratic republic; those who manage its national and international affairs are elected by popular vote. The onus to elect able personnel rests with the masses. They can do that only if they are educated enough. This places education at a higher priority. The political parties and the leaders that call for change need to evolve an education system, which would help to make quality education available to the general public at an affordable cost. Presently, our education is a class-based system, which widens the social gulf between the masses. There is a need to provide free secondary education to all eligible children, but university education should be on merit and ability. Those who do not show the potential for higher education should be diverted towards vocational education so that they can become a productive force in the country and obtain fruitful jobs or be self-employed. This can only happen, if we can strictly curb the commercialism that has made inroads in our schools and universities. These steps call for major budgetary outlays in the education sector, both at federal and provincial levels. It is a long process that needs patient and sustained execution before its impact will be felt. Those who talk of 'change should gear up in this direction and develop practical strategies and methods to implement this policy. Literate nations elect able persons to represent them. Our parliamentarians at the federal and provincial levels seldom grow out of local area compulsions and power politics. Their local area problems take precedence on national issues; this phenomenon is amply demonstrated when one observes half-empty Assembly halls specifically when major issues are under deliberation. This calls for a major shift in our representation system. Those elected to the National and Provincial Assemblies should be concerned with issues relating to the level they represent. Local issues should be relegated and entrusted to local leaders. This can only happen if the Local Government (LG) System is given legislative cover. The representatives returning to higher elected bodies can help local leaders in obtaining development funds and approval of development projects; they should have no influence or role in administrative execution at the local level. The LGs should be elected and answerable to the people. This system was introduced by a military dictator, but was scraped with his removal. This form of administration will clearly differentiate between local and national level leaders. Those interested in local politics will not opt for leadership at the national level; only those with national and international horizon will opt for higher bodies. The political parties, who clamour for change, should and ought to think in this direction. Everyone, who makes it to the National or Provincial Assemblies, aspires to hold an office. There were about 80 ministers and State ministers in Shaukat Azizs Cabinet; the current government also has a large Cabinet. In a country, like Pakistan, which is writhing under heavy debt burden, this causes wasteful expenditure. The number of ministries can be reduced at the centre, if the division of responsibilities between the centre and the provinces are rationalised. The provinces should be delegated most of the subjects, while the centre should retain the most important portfolios like defence, foreign affairs, fiscal and currency, etc. In principle, provincial autonomy exists, but is sparingly practiced; it should be enforced. It may require parliamentary action to fix the number of ministers; the politicians should work in this direction. There are a lot of complaints and observations about the taxation system in Pakistan. It is usually observed that only the salaried personnel and corporate sector pays taxes. Despite indirect taxation, a large segment of the society is outside the tax net. Agriculture income, which is in billions of rupees, is non-taxable and it is a big loss to the government. There is a need to bring all incomes in the tax net. We have complicated and discretionary rules in our tax laws; obtaining national tax number is a cumbersome procedure. In Pakistan, every individual is required to be registered and the NADRA has an extensive database in this regard. This registration number of the individual - that is also his NIC number - should be the individual tax number. Every adult person should file a simple tax return under this number. Anyone having income above the minimum limit should be taxed. This way no one will be able to avoid taxes. The income should include all earnings from all sources - salary, business and agriculture. Corruption, in Pakistan, is a major menace that is eating up the country; reportedly, almost all culprits indulging in it go scot-free. Till now only a few have been brought to book; most get off the hook and many escape on plea bargain. We have a National Accountability Bureau (NAB), but its performance has not been to the desired level. It is under the Interior Ministry and is generally considered as being an instrument of intimidation against political opponents. It should be an autonomous institution answerable to a Parliamentary Accountability Committee; its head should be proposed by the higher judiciary and confirmed by the committee after thorough scrutiny. There are fare chances that such an institution will act and conduct itself without fear. The bureau should not have judicial powers; it should prepare cases and prosecute the defaulters in normal courts of law. Above are a few random thoughts, as to how a meaningful change can be brought in the politico-social system in Pakistan. These are not comprehensive by any measure and will need detailed deliberations by legal and constitutional experts. These steps may need new legislations or modifications to the existing laws by Parliament. The political parties should be ready to adopt them, if they are sincere to bring about a change. These are only pointers in a particular direction; they can be accepted, modified or rejected. The slogans of change that one hears from political leaders are vague and appear only crowd pleasers; none of them has so far spelled out what change they perceive and how they plan to implement it, if and when they succeed. Our past experience of governance by these political parties belies any will for change; only PTI is new in the arena. But this party has so far given only vague hints towards any change and with the inclusion of runaway leaders from status quo parties that too are becoming suspect. Any change in our political system demands sincerity of purpose, loyalty to the country and not individuals and, above all, a strong political will to face the odds that will come in the way of any meaningful change. Will the leaders demanding a change measure up to that? The writer is a retired brigadier and political analyst. Email: