Preparing for Change

The status quo must be replaced

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change “; said Leon c. Megginson. In a world driven by technology only change is permanent, and nations that do not prepare for it, invariably perish. Unfortunately, since July 1977, change has been installed in the land of the pure

Insteading of preparing for it, we have been crushing all attempts towards it. No one seems to know the way forward, so we continue to languish in despair and darkness. Only effective change management can reverse this deadly decline. The status quo is not an option, never was, never will be. The sooner we come out of this stagnation syndrome the better it will be. The current system is choked and non-functional.

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As a nation we have been unable to come out of this era of stagnation. The status quo is so entrenched that mafias have taken over. The task of reforms is both difficult and life threatening. The evil spell of the Zia era refuses to be warded off. The Machiavellian approach of ‘Do Nothing’ was introduced during that period (July 1977 to August 1988). All the gains of the democratic era (December 1971 to July 1977) were wiped out. There was a paradigm shift.

By getting involved in the Afghan Conflict, the focus shifted to ‘security’ instead of much-needed human development.

While the ‘security state’ flourished, other important segments of development were ignored. The imposed civilian leadership was allowed to carry out unprecedented loot of the nation’s assets. While the people suffered, the state was focused on ‘security’ while ignoring the ensuing plunder.

If evolutionary changes are stalled it invariably leads to revolution and bloodshed. To avoid anarchy, nations must prepare for change as it is needed. The age-old saying holds way, “What cannot be cured must be endured”. Personally, I think our endurance limits have been stretched too far, now we must look for a cure through well planned change mechanisms. Let us prepare for the inevitable before it is too late.

As leader of the progressive segment of the country, Benazir Bhutto tried to introduce the much needed change but Nawaz Sharif with the active support of the establishment of its time thwarted all her efforts at reforms. A new cadre of political bounty hunters was created which has now turned into a menace. Agencies have enough data on their misdeeds which is used only in times of need but not made public to push them out of the arena.

In order to grow, nations must prepare for change. Transitions are never easy, which must be planned with a clear road map to move forward. For sound decision making, data is required which is not easily available in the land of the pure. Ground realities keep changing which are not accounted for by the policy makers.

The chain of command no longer exists in most civilian institutions creating serious impediments for any desired change. Even the necessary records are in disarray, no one seems to know where to start. When Shaukat Aziz took over as Prime Minister, he summoned all the senior officers (Grades 21, 22) for a sermon on change. After his not so convincing speech, the question and answer session started. A federal secretary suggested that the young officers should be first trained for meaningful impact. As Chairman of Pakistan Science Foundation, I shared my own experience of dealing with the mafia which came in the way of change. I asked for his support to take on this menace to restore the writ of the state. My question was ” Will the PM support us in the fight against the Mafia of status quo?”’ He was baffled and could not give a straight answer, clearly indicating only lip service with no long-term commitment for change. Except for the PM, no one seems willing to stick out his head for the much needed change.

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Policies are formulated with great fanfare but lack the will or the methodology of implementation. Somehow it is assumed that once formulated the policy would be implemented by the bureaucracy, not realising that they are a part of the problem. Colonial bureaucrats are trained to maintain the status quo, and change goes against their professional and personal interests.

Once in office they strengthen this evil but after retirement they give long sermons for the much needed change to move forward. Public representatives are required to watch for their interests but they are unable to push for the welfare of the electorate, as the entrenched bureaucracy comes in the way. Old political parties then opted for a system of Muk Muka or ‘Pay for Service’ to get the job done, which has led to massive corruption.

If evolutionary changes are stalled it invariably leads to revolution and bloodshed. To avoid anarchy, nations must prepare for change as it is needed. The age-old saying holds way; “What cannot be cured must be endured”. Personally, I think our endurance limits have been stretched too far, now we must look for a cure through well planned change mechanisms. Let us prepare for the inevitable before it is too late.

Dr Farid A Malikhttps://www.pakistantoday.com.pk
The writer is ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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