Over the past two democratic tenures, Punjab has shown positive growth signs. Please refer to multiple governmental and non-governmental figures issued over the past ten years as I do not intend to share any stats in this article. The only factor that helped the growth phenomenon was nothing else but the will and courage to take decisions. You must have heard rumours of an efficient CM with only three hours sleep. Let me assure you he wasn’t using all or even a majority of his time researching every pending approval. It’s just not practically possible. What he did right was to appoint hardworking administrators asking them to make decisions quickly in order to allow any review on the approval and then amend promptly. ‘Pens’—these administrators—sign approvals and re-sign the amendments as and when required, which keeps the growth tyres rolling ultimately in the desired direction.

The biggest problem Pakistan faces is not corruption, but instead the inability to take decisions. No decision leads to no work done, hence zero growth. The pens hired subject specialists and used them to manoeuvre through difficult yet innovative projects. The specialists would report directly to the pens and by regularly updating them would seek accords to accomplish tasks through the regular government officials.

Today we survive in the era of ‘glasses’; many shaking heads with concerned eyeballs but with glasses on their nose instead of pens in their hands are frequently heading meetings of many projects entering a critical stage. Their concern for the prosperity of projects and ultimately the state, results in secluded meetings with newspaper-length minutes of meetings, yet no decision is taken. The specialists are moved to the far end of the meeting table and the government functionaries are instructed to hurdle around the glasses. From the far end of the table, the sorry state is quite visible; too many glasses on the table and yet no pen in the room to make a decision.

First the Governor of Punjab Ghulam Sarwar expressed his frustration and threatened to release names of dormant individuals, obstructing day-to-day operations of the government and now it’s Prime Minister Imran Khan singing the same sad song. The COVID-19 situation has obviously helped in providing a lethargic list of excuses, but the situation before and after is pretty much the same. Projects suffer from delayed approvals and the fight for clearance of already-approved funds is still the way it has been for centuries. The current government also accuses its predecessor of putting in these people in place strategically for their vested interests. Another corner simply rates the bureaucracy more powerful and working with the usual two-face tactic. After all, converting fiction into reality is just a proof away.

Unfortunately, with so much time wasted Punjab is not ready for the blame game anymore. Regardless of the tussle of respect, stature and power, the relevant people with the public mandate will have to understand the game to play it. Merely spending money for a party ticket and later for a ministry can fulfil one’s personal aims but giving back to the community requires sheer hard work and the will to deliver. It is a known fact that political parties require funds for various activities before and after that day of poll. But political parties will have to reduce paid parliament seats and increase the number of hardworking and selfless individuals. These individuals might need that extra support from the party to win on the day but their hard work will pay off.

Currently, there are too many issues of governance in Punjab which make it crystal clear that the intent to deliver is not there.