Fawad’s plain talk

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MINISTER for Science & Technology, Fawad Chaudhry, who is known for his articulate approach to different issues, in an interview, has talked plainly on a host of problems confronting the country, proposing viable solutions for some of the challenges. He attributed lack of activism on the part of bureaucracy to absence of an appropriate framework, claimed that ministers have powers only on paper, wanted internal accountability in organizations, and called for party elections under the aegis of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The said interview has substantive contents and the country can surely benefit if a comprehensive national debate takes place on them and ultimately a final decision is taken on them from the platform of Parliament. The Minister has a point when he lamented that there was no merit-based true democratic structure within the political parties as these have become personal or family properties. If elections of housing societies can be organized by the Department of Cooperatives, then there is logic that party elections are also held under the total supervision of the ECP. One, however, fails to understand why the Minister has complained about powerlessness of the ministers and whether this is reflective of the desire to have autocratic powers, which would also be a negation of his views on authoritarianism in political parties. The ministers are there to give policy guidelines and it is the responsibility of the bureaucracy to give merit-based input on each and every matter. It is also a sagacious proposition that heads of institutions should have at least 5/6 years of service so that they have ample time to plan, implement and deliver. Fawad’s demand for provincial (financial) framework is also legitimate as provinces are presently not investing the funds they get under NFC award judiciously.