Prime Minister Imran Khan’s latest trip to the UAE is a positive step towards strengthening the long standing brotherly ties and goodwill both countries have for each other. There is no doubt that Pakistan has to date attached immense value to its ties with the UAE. But how much has Pakistan learnt from the progress and development standards countries like the UAE embody?
Being an exemplary in providing law and order, governance, while straddling development, especially in provision of facilities and services for the functioning of a top-class lifestyle which is available to all spectrums of society, the UAE cannot be matched. It is something even tourists to the country can vouch for let alone expatriates who have lived and experienced the ease and value of this lifestyle.
Learning from the UAE
The naya Pakistan Mr Khan’s PTI had promised, would if realised, resemble the daily functioning of UAE society. But we in Pakistan are far from that marker. The government departments might have created fancy offices and provided facilities for paying hefty payment for services for the privileged but the attitude of the staff employed in government offices and organisations is deplorable. The travails suffered by the under privileged are something one shudders to imagine.
As Khan nears his 100-day benchmark, he is yet to lay out a strategy on how to achieve for his 190 million plus fellow countrymen, a different take on governance. So far, the only achievements have been in running from Saudi to China to get financial assistance to get the economy rolling. The Chinese sojourn was hardly encouraging given the PTI government’s grumbling vis-a-vis the CPEC all this while.
Beijing demanded deliverables as it should have. What we need to focus on is delivering and treating China as a partner not as a Faustian partner ala East India Company. But let us ponder if we can deliver on all aspects that come with the deal in terms of our repayments, provision of security and an investor conducive environment instead of whining nonstop about the past and the injustices we suffer from a hostile regional order.
Plus, it’s high time that Pakistan realises that futile runs for help, even to all weather allies is likely to lose appeal if it cannot deliver on governance and create that critical environment for the ease of business and provision of services at home.
Pakistan's own face immense challenges
What kind of message do we send our investors if we cannot provide basic services and the trappings of governance at home to our own people?
What kind of message do we send our investors if we cannot provide basic services and the trappings of governance at home to our own people? Most Pakistanis face immense challenges and frustrations in their daily lives.
Even if we were to talk about the well to do upper and upper middle class segments of society, it is common knowledge that a culture of hindrances, red tape and corruption impede even the normal services and petty chores that are taken for granted in many countries in the Gulf. There is no doubt that hard work and a professional work ethic is something that is valued above all else and many Pakistanis have gained the fruits of their hard work while working as expatriates abroad by following that road.
But there is no doubt that the environment provided and services rendered by the host government, say in the case of the UAE, give that vital ease of mind and support which is critical for the smooth functioning of everyday life of residents. It is unheard of to wait for weeks or months without getting one’s electricity connection. A simple walk into the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority with the requisite documents and payment is the only thing one needs to get connected. The ease provided by e-services has further expedited billing and payment facilities for residents. And that is a fact highly appreciated by residents and visitors.
A similar comparison for electricity connection in Pakistan in the capital city for instance usually entails constant reminders to one’s ‘connections’ and/or bribe to a Water and Power Development Authority line man or officer to get the job done. Not only is it extremely frustrating but also counterproductive to the economy. It is an unfortunate fact that unnecessary delays, red tape, nepotism, and corruption have been the most detrimental issues marring governance in the country.
So, while most Pakistani leaders profess admiration for the country and unflinching support for the UAE’s leadership that have time and again proved their support to the Pakistani people, they should take a lesson from their model of governance. Instead of sending large delegations to China to learn, the Pakistan government should be cognisant of the valuable lessons it could learn in sending a task force to get trained in government services to the Gulf.
The fact that both Pakistan and the UAE have pledged to jointly work together to stem money laundering among other objectives is commendable but for now priority must be given to learn how to provide services to people that are free of insidious nepotism and corruption practices. If Mr Khan delivers on this he will be able to attain a significant lead on his opponents in doing the unthinkable – giving his people a dignified and respectful system to live in.
So, while politics is played in the streets and courts, and the government girdles itself beyond its highly eventful 100 days, let us remind ourselves of what is important. Getting back on track and developing a naya Pakistan in practice. Once we get that respect from our own people, the world will follow.