Pakistan has suffered a turbulent political and security environment since 1970s. This turbulence has further been exacerbated by the corruption and incompetence of political leaders which has left a great gap in development of Pakistan as a nation. The people of Pakistan have been deprived of many basic rights including education, health, infrastructure, cleanliness. This deprivation of basic rights and uneven allocation of wealth has led to deep rooted issues in the society and pessimism has become face of our social media. Despite some improved economic indicators and better infrastructure in limited cities, the previous government of PMLN failed to tap on factors that can have lasting impact for any nation in long term.
The advent of Naya Pakistan by PTI – Does the future hold any hope?
Since elections of 2018, PTI-led government, on the surface, is struggling to maintain positive economic indicators with the economic wrench that our country was left in. Whether that is incompetence of PTI’s finance ministry or a matter of mending that will take time, there are few issues on which the current government took great initiatives.
Best Initiatives of PTI Government in Pakistan
This article highlights some of those initiatives by current government that if get implemented as effectively as they were conceptualized, then the future of Pakistan is definitely brighter than we have assumed.
STEM Education in Pakistan
While Pakistani are used to have short term goals and expectations from the government, it is a globally acknowledged fact that the world today is led by knowledge and innovation driven economies. Pakistan, on the other hand, is far behind the world in the field of innovation and technology despite having 60% of young population. it is ranked as 16th worst economy in 2019 Global Innovation index at 105th position out of 121 nations. PTI-led government from the start has committed to make Pakistan a knowledge based economy and has formulated several strategies to turn Pakistani schools into STEM schools which covers four main subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Science and Technology, in June, 2019 announced the pilot project that is being carried out in selected government schools to assess the challenges in implementation of STEM education nationwide.
Another great step was taken by the ministry in collaboration with National University of Sciences and technology (NUST) as on 10th December, 2019, PM Imran Khan inaugurated Pakistan’s first National Science and Technology Park (NSTP) that aims at bringing the researchers, investors, inventors and related bodies together.
Madrassah Reforms – Enforcement of Single Curriculum across the Nation by PTI
We are well aware of the label ‘Taliban Khan’ for Prime Minister Imran Khan that he earned due to his stance on war against terror and its impact on local population of both Afghanistan and Waziristan in Pakistan. The label was highlighted again when he presented the idea of bringing all schools as well as Madrassahs (Religious Schools) under same educational umbrella and follow single curriculum of western and religious education. As Taliban-US peace deal closed in Qatar this month, it is expected that this decision of present government can be analyzed with open mind now.
The Prime Minister in a meeting reiterated that millions of children studying in 30,000 Madrassahs across the country are Pakistan’s children and future and thus, they will now be registered under new program where their curriculum will now include basic knowledge subjects specifically Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology.
For this purpose in January 2020, the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training has started to establish regional offices across the country for Madrassahs to register and open bank accounts for provision of stipends to selected teachers. Under the program, Madrassahs will have to go under annual audit to ensure impartment of necessary education and avoidance of any hate speech that has been previously preached to several religious schools.
The impact of this step is highly understated and underrated by mainstream media and critics as not only it will promote peace in the country but the future contribution of deprived youth of this nation in fields of technology, science and knowledge based fields will be a huge achievement for Pakistan.
National Digital Policy of Pakistan by PTI Government
Unlike failure of previous governments in implementing a long term and committed approach towards using Information Technology as main economic driver, PTI-led government launched Pakistan’s first National Digital Policy in 2018 to envisage its vision of making Pakistan a knowledge-based economy. Under the umbrella of this policy, several digital initiatives have been taken during the short tenure of government.
- Virtual One Stop Shop – Allows registration of new companies with FBR at SECP website
- Tax Asaan Mobile App – Allows payment of taxes, NTN/STRN inquiry in collaboration with State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR)
- Online Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) portal for IT firms’ registration
- Prime Minister Complaint Portal – Allows citizens to launch complaint against any department or send suggestions to any governmental department
Apart from these applications, the Ministry of IT and Telecommunications, has been active in organizing several public-private collaborations for increasing exports in IT sector through freelancing thereby, resulting in making Pakistan 4th largest freelance market globally.
Panahgah Shelter Homes
In 2018, soon after assuming government, Imran Khan announced opening of shelter homes in big cities like Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad, known as ‘Panahgahs’. For this purpose, the government formulated a formal government body of Bait-ul-Maal in each province that is responsible for looking after needs of poor and homeless people in their respective cities and provided 3 times meals and beds for them. The project so far has opened more than 100 shelter homes across the country serving thousands of people including workers that arrive in new cities in search of work. The shelter homes not only provide bedding and food facilities but also 24 hour electricity, water supply and medical care. The project is a remarkable effort of government to eliminate hunger and hopelessness among the masses specifically lower class and provide them an incentive to move across cities to work.
Pakistan Tourism Policy
The government has recently formulated and announced its 10-year Tourism Policy in collaboration with UNDP to promote tourism and employment in Pakistan. The PTI government is already lauded for its focus on tourism even before the elections when PTI had provincial government in KPK. After resuming federal government, there was huge relaxation in visa policy for tourists with e-visa facilities to around 175 countries while 50 countries have visa on arrival facility. This has already resulted in historic tourism in Pakistan creating around 3.8 million employment in 2018. Moreover, the government has announced renovating and building 10 new tourist destinations each year while several new tourist destinations are already being promoted by the government.
Such new initiatives focused on improving the economic, social and human conditions of Pakistan need appreciation and contribution from both critics and supporters of government as it will eventually uplift the conditions of our own homeland – Pakistan.