Last Sunday I had written my weekly column under the title of Whither democracy in Pakistan? Surrounded by internal and external challenges, I was deeply concerned about the fate of our nation. According to my very considered estimate, the state of the nation was never so pathetic since the birth of Pakistan. Look at it from any indicator of national power - politically, economically or any other angle. Law and order is the first and foremost responsibility of the state. The result over the past 60 years is dismal no matter whoever was in power. Every government holds its predecessors responsible for the present day ills. The politicians blame the armed forces for their constant interventions, yet every champion of democracy started his political grooming in the cradle of the dictators. However from a nation where 50 percent of the population is illiterate, any sermon about democracy is sheer day dreaming. Pakistan since its birth has been governed by feudals who have dominated every Parliament. Nothing has changed during the past 60 years. Nothing will change in the future unless the system is changed. Our sins of the past in the form of vested interests of our British trained bureaucrats have finally come home to roost. My readers, through their phone calls and SMS messages, brought home the root cause of our present national dilemma to face the current internal and external challenges, while the solution lies in converting nearly half of the population from an illiterate mass of people into national power of valuable human resource. To that end the president, PM, Parliament and CM's must bend all their energies on a war footing. The federal and provincial education ministers and their respective secretaries - supported by the entire nation and the international community - must join hands to save Pakistan from national disasters. The world having become a global village cannot remain safe and prosperous with the existence of underdeveloped countries even in the 21st century. Therefore Pakistan, with the lowest literacy rate, would pose a greater danger to regional and international security. A great mass of illiterate population in Pakistan, stands on the brink of falling an easy prey into the evil trap of religious extremists networks for their evil goals to destabilise Pakistan which has the potential to develop into a lynchpin or fulcrum of the entire Muslim world. I therefore strongly recommend to the federal Education Minister Bijarani to urgently consider the following issues as base to formulate the short, medium and long-term strategy for evolving an education policy for the next 20 years to be called Pakistan's National Education Policy 2030. ? No major change shall be made by any succeeding national or provincial government in the National Education Policy 2030 which should be worked out by the present Parliament by the end of 2009. ? Separate boards of advisers comprising: i). elementary education, ii). secondary education, iii). college education up to graduation, iv). post-graduation education including universities of engineering, medical and other latest skills and facilities, v). special education, vi). technical and vocational education, and vii) illiteracy drive at the national level to be treated separately under the strategy governing immediate, mid and long-term goals. ? Being a sensitive and complicated issue madrassah education should be treated separately under the direction of the federal government. ? Since the Dakkar Declaration made in Sinigal in 2000 which was signed by the top academics and officials from Pakistan making a commitment to achieve the literacy goals by the year 2015. Not much progress has been made during the last 9 years. The Dawn of the new Millennium cannot be expected within the target time, unless a miracle happens. Therefore the government must awaken to undertake plans and projects on war footing to honour Pakistan's commitment. ? It is vital to fix responsibilities at the federal and provincial levels to achieve our targets in spite of colossal funding which has mostly been misused. A special tribunal must be set-up to audit and report the fate of funds like Iqra, Ujala, Nai Roshni, PM's Literacy Commission and National Education Foundation etc. As a final word, the War On Terror cannot be won by drone attacks. It can be won only through winning the hearts of the people. The only lane that leads to the heart of the people is through the 'power' that is provided by knowledge. That is why the first step towards learning was decreed in the Holy Command of Iqra - "READ". Strangely was the promotion of literacy at the global level for the year 2009 is the magic word "READ". The writer is the president of the Pakistan National Forum.