Reactive Pakistan: The Pangs of Ad-hocism

Posted on May 15, 2009
Filed Under >temporal, Society
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When planning for a year, plant corn.
When planning for a decade, plant trees.
When planning for life, train and educate people.

Chinese Proverb

Pakistan was borne off an existential crisis. And purveyors of its short history tell us it has stumbled from one crisis to another. All individuals, and nations do deal with crisis of varying degrees in their lives. But the one distinctive feature that has been afflicting Pakistan ever since inception is Planning: Lack of planning, lack of foresight, lack of thinking things through.

In politics, religion and life our pre-eminent and prominent discourse has been to react. Of course, I’d readily admit there were, and will continue to be exceptions to it. But largely and generally speaking, as individuals and as a nation we have been a re-active lot.

As if reaction has been set as a default mode in our genes. The one far reaching exception to above being the dogged determination and grit shown to acquire nuclear capabilities by the state. And a greater zeal and grit displayed by one individual – Abdul Sattar Edhi.

And this is the reason the Muslims worldwide have been on a downward slide since the 14th or 15th century.

ad-hocism n.
The tendency to establish temporary, chiefly improvisational policies and procedures to deal with specific problems and tasks:

No research, no planning, no thinking ahead. Just reacting to events. And ad-hocism is patch work governance that leads to nowhere in a hurry.

Look at the past few years and look at ourselves as individuals, as a nation and as a government.

Pollution: Untreated waste is dumped into rivers and seas, auto emission is unchecked, factories pollute, plastic bags litter and pollute, waste is not disposed off.

Education: Ghost schools, un-staffed, untrained or poorly trained teachers, derelict buildings, outdated syllabus focusing on the past not the future, undue focus on negatives (“they are baaad – we are gooood”) widening gap between private and public educational institutions, ground and equipment, and then wondering why poor send children off to madressas – to turn into human fodder for ‘their’ goals

Calamities: Earth quake – and I will also mention fires in buildings such as the Islamabad Hotel or the Lahore or Karachi government buildings – floods – man-made calamities (Swat a recent example) – equipment, facilities and trained personnel not available for disaster management.

Water management: Sea is encroaching, rivers run dry, water collection is unheard of, water conservation more so, dams are not constructed, those that exist are silting up dangerously, crops suffer, people suffer.

Judging by the strikes and protests on the road, the righteous indignation expressed in the Assemblies and by the talking heads in the electronic media, and the solemn protestations or whining by the bloggeratis it is evident that people react.

There is that word, react.

If, over the past six decades Pakistanis had spent even a fraction of that time anticipating, planning and pro-acting instead of wasting time in adhocism, and reacting to situations, the nation would be ahead on most counts.

It does not mean there would have been no floods, earthquakes, fires or bombings.

Planning would mean we would have more Akhtar Hamid Khans and Abdul Sattar Edhis.

Planning ahead would mean Disaster Management would not be a dusty bureaucratic department in a ministry.

Planning means the War Games would include insurgent control scenarios that could be implemented quickly. In layman terms, artillery and gunship firing is not the way to deal with insurgencies. One does not kill an insect with a sledge hammer. Such heavy handed measures creates more determined enemies. We know this as civilians, and wonder why does the professional army not know this?

Had there been proper planning and expenditure on infra structure development over the past six decades, the quality of life, education and health would have been equal to if not better than China, South Korea, Malaysia to name three countries that were worse off than Pakistan in the past.

At the moment we are drifting, rudderless. Hope am quoting correctly:

Rau meiN hai rakh-shay um’r kahan dekhiyay thamay
Na haath baag per hai na paa hai rikaab meiN

Yes, please do all you can to help the needy, the poor, the displaced now. But not at the expense of education, health, preparedness, prevention and planning. Salvation of both the individual and the state lies in being prepared. We must eradicate this knee-jerk ad-hocism, this reactive mind set if we are to survive and get ahead.

11 responses to “Reactive Pakistan: The Pangs of Ad-hocism”

  1. temporal says:

    thanks for sharing your views:)

    today i read in NYT a post where the writer is commenting on India…but it is so very pertinent to this discussion of adhocism…his reference to jazz is so apt!

    India has long been a jazz republic, functioning without a written score. People involve themselves in each other

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