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An additional critical factor contributing to the governance and economic challenges in Pakistan is the dominance of certain influential groups within the public discourse. This includes so-called economists, researchers, authors, columnists, media anchors, academicians, politicians, and public opinion makers.

Many of these individuals and their ideologies are either remnants of colonial influence or are anchored in perspectives that have not evolved since the 1980s. Their continued prominence in shaping public and political narratives significantly hinders the adoption of innovative and contemporary ideas necessary for the country’s progress.

Dominance of outdated ideologies

The prevailing influence of these figures, many of whom propagate outdated or obsolete ideologies, creates a substantial barrier to the introduction and acceptance of modern, scientifically and technologically informed approaches. The adherence to such outdated viewpoints ensures that the public discourse remains disconnected from the rapid advancements occurring in the global scientific and technological landscape.

Need for discarding obsolete perspectives

For Pakistan to move forward and effectively address its myriad challenges there is an urgent need to critically evaluate and, where necessary, discard these obsolete perspectives. The uncritical acceptance of ideas and policies from individuals whose views have not kept pace with contemporary developments stifles innovation and impedes the country’s ability to adapt to new realities.

Encouraging new and relevant thinking

Embracing new thinking that is directly connected with and informed by the latest scientific and technological advancements is essential. However, for these fresh and relevant ideas to gain traction among the populace and influence decision-making at the highest levels, a significant shift in the public and political discourse is required. This shift involves not only rejecting outdated modes of thought but also actively promoting and integrating contemporary knowledge and perspectives into policy-making and public dialogue.

Challenges ahead

The path to reshaping public opinion and policy-making in alignment with modern scientific and technological developments is fraught with challenges. Convincing the authorities and the general populace to abandon deeply ingrained psychological and behavioral patterns in favor of a more forward-looking approach demands concerted effort, strategic communication, and the establishment of new educational and informational platforms. Only through such transformative actions can Pakistan hope to emerge from the shadows of outdated and colonial-era ideologies and embark on a path of informed and sustainable development.

In the quest for economic development and governance reform, there are several global examples from which valuable lessons can be drawn. This discourse highlights three distinct models from Estonia, Singapore, and China, each offering unique insights into how digital innovation and strategic governance can drive significant socio-economic advancements.

Estonia and Singapore: Pioneers in digital governance

Estonia and Singapore have emerged as exemplary models in digitizing and digitalising their governance systems, setting benchmarks for transparency, accountability, and efficiency. These countries have revolutionized their public service delivery through comprehensive digital transformation strategies. By adopting e-governance and digital public services, they have significantly enhanced citizen engagement, streamlined government processes, and improved the delivery of public services. This transformation has not only made government operations more efficient but has also fostered a more inclusive and participatory form of governance, where citizens have easier access to services and can engage more directly with their government.

China: A model of economic growth and poverty reduction

China presents a different, yet equally compelling, model of development. From a GDP of less than one-fifth of a trillion dollars in 1980, China has experienced meteoric growth, reaching a GDP of $32 trillion in purchasing power parity terms. This remarkable economic growth has been accompanied by an unprecedented reduction in poverty, with more than 800 million people lifted out of poverty.

China’s development strategy is a multifaceted approach that emphasizes strategic economic policies, substantial investments in the intellectual and skill development of its youth and workforce, and the mobilization of the Communist Party’s rank and file to ensure the effective delivery of public services and basic human necessities, even in the most remote villages. This comprehensive strategy includes significant investments in research and development, technology, and infrastructure, alongside a focus on manufacturing, exports, and fostering inclusive growth to boost domestic consumption. As domestic consumption increases, China gradually reduces its dependence on export-led growth, shifting towards a more balanced and sustainable economic model.

In terms of international strategy, China has made substantial investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and other infrastructure projects worldwide. These initiatives are not just about expanding China’s economic reach but are also seen as a means of fostering sustainable growth through international cooperation and shared prosperity. By engaging in such expansive infrastructural projects with other countries, China aims to create a model of growth that benefits not only itself but also contributes to global development.

This holistic approach to development, characterized by both internal innovation and external cooperation, has not only solidified China’s position as a leading force in the global economy but has also enabled it to declare itself a moderately prosperous country. The concept of shared prosperity, which China advocates, extends beyond its borders, promoting a vision of international development that seeks mutual benefits and collective progress. Through these strategies, China demonstrates a model of development that intertwines economic advancement with social upliftment, aiming for a harmonious balance between national interests and global welfare.

The imperative of learning and adapting

The experiences of Estonia, Singapore, and China underscore the importance of embracing digital innovation and strategic policy-making to address governance and economic challenges. For nations looking to transform their economies and governance systems, these countries offer valuable lessons in leveraging technology to enhance governance and in implementing policies that promote sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

The call for renewal

In an era defined by generative artificial intelligence and rapid technological advancement, there is a critical need to move beyond outdated and obsolete practices.

Learning from the success stories of Estonia, Singapore, and China, it is time to embrace new ways of thinking and operating. This entails a decisive move away from traditional paradigms and towards a more innovative, technology-driven approach to governance and economic development. This would unlock new avenues for growth, enhance the quality of life for citizens, and ensure a more prosperous and equitable future.

(Concluded)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Dr Murtaza Khuhro

The writer is a retired Civil Servant and Advocate at the High Court. [email protected]

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KU Feb 22, 2024 11:40am
Good suggestions, wish it will tingle some nerves or conscience. Agriculture alone could achieve much and ensure welfare, but lack of modern technology has arrested its development and contribution.
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