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Policy Research in Pakistan: A discussion at IPS with the visiting NCRD delegation

A delegation of 25, from Akhtar Hameed Khan National Centre for Rural Development & Municipal (AHKNCRD&MA)1, visited Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) on October 30, 2009.

 

Administeration welcoming the visitors, DG Khalid Rahman highlighted the significance and the current status of policy research in Pakistan and the role of think tanks and non-government organizations in this regard. Discussing the IPS role in this regard, he explained that that it intends to bring different dimensions to policy-making at various levels.

 

Underlining the key benefits of such interactions with those who are involved in governments at grassroots levels and belonging to different parts of the country, he observed that the participants can not only benefit with whatever research has been done at institutions like IPS, but can also pass this information on to the other people, which can open the opportunities for such work, to be done in other parts of country. Moreover the comments and suggestions of people from other parts of country, including remote areas, will be novel and different that may prove to be helpful and valuable for the institute to make further progress in that direction.

 

002.jpg Emphasizing the importance of research and education he underscored that people at all levels of decision making should make a mission to promote the ‘educational environment’ in their areas of influence. An ‘Environment’, where people get inspiration and motivated in reading, and should have an easy access to all kinds of books and literature. For this purpose, libraries should be established on every level, especially in those areas which are lagging behind in this field. A special attention should be paid on the strengthening of existing libraries; new and updated items, articles, and publications should be made available there. The influential people, like Nazims, should make efforts in this regard. They should assure that libraries are not being neglected and make sure that a handsome budget is allotted for it. Besides, computers and the internet facilities should also be provided in the libraries so that people can get an easy access to the topics of their interest, in a sophisticated surrounding.

 

003.jpg Some of the participants observed that the culture of visiting libraries is not so common in Pakistan. Though libraries are present in almost every district, but they are not properly attended and maintained. Another observation was that in this age of IT, book-reading is becoming redundant. Commenting on the observations, Mr. Rahman opined that in spite of IT development, book-reading has not lost its significance. It has benefits of its own. If a book is interesting, having a good content and presentation, it is massively read. Focus should be on the availability of as much quality books as possible, so that if people want to read, they do not remain deprived of it. In this regard, the ‘Western society’ presents a good example where authorities pay proper heed to the books and libraries, and the ratio of book-reading is far greater than what it is in Pakistan.

 

Responding to a question, he explained that IPS is a national institution. Politics is one of the major areas of its focus and it seeks to promote the national thinking on national issues. IPS National Academic Council (NAC) comprises members from diverse schools of thought, reflecting different shades of Pakistani society. IPS plans research on the topics that have been approved by this council. However, IPS works on anything, related to its scope; its approach is always directed towards improving the quality of life at national and global levels. Thus, with a primary focus on Pakistan, its neighbors, and the Muslim world, the human interest, in general, is an integral part of its focus without compromising the spirit of dialogue, and the freedom of expression is always appreciated in IPS.

 

004.jpg The question/answer session also prompted the debate on some current national issues. On being asked, he also highlighted the IPS work on ‘Madrassah’ in Pakistan. He said that the ‘Madrassah’ has made a valuable contribution in our society, though, due to negligence in keeping up with the changing times, it has also created problems like they have, in a way, segregated the religion and the world. IPS has been holding capacity enhancement programs for Madrassah besides conducting research.

 

In reply to another question, Khalid Rahman pointed out that the main problem of Pakistan is that its institutions are not strong. Rapid changes in governments are not harmful per se, if this change takes place on the basis of a system, and not by force. The dilemma is that even our democratic governments have not been doing enough to strengthen democracy. Our governments should not fall prey to external pressures or influences. We should promote the dominance of system over persons, so as to gain the trust, and win the confidence of people.

 

While discussing about increasing suicidal attacks in Pakistan, Mr. Rahman hinted towards a natural rule of ‘cause and consequence’. He pointed out that any consequence is led by some cause, and as far as the causes are not removed, the consequences of them will not stop to take place. The suicidal attacks are wrong and immoral, and should not take place, but they cannot be stopped as such, until and unless the causes, leading to them, are eradicated. Mr. Rahman pointed out the three elements of terrorism, formerly mentioned by Parvez Musharraf i.e. the operator, the facilitator, and the master-mind. He said that though, the operators of current suicidal attacks appear be some religiously motivated people, yet the facilitator and the master-mind must be identified, as it is of supreme importance. The recognition of root causes is essential. Nobody should be blamed blindly; rather, a proper investigation procedure should be followed. Media should also raise its voice in this regard.

 

{mosimage}He also accentuated that people, all over the world, are ruling on basis of their knowledge and education. Hence, instead of the violent retort, we should also make progress in that direction to fight them powerfully and more effectively, and have a prosperous Pakistan, resultantly.

 

In the end, Mr. Ayaz Akhtar Ansari (AHKNCRD&MA), on behalf of NCRD, thanked DG IPS, Mr. Rahman, for a positive response to his request on short notice, and for briefing and discussion. He said that the debate and the question/answer session were very useful for the trainees, and the delegation has really benefitted from it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

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[1]AHKNCRD&MA is a research and training institute, dedicated to promote the cause of rural development in Pakistan. The center frequently conducts training programs for elected members and officials of the District Governments/local bodies. The visiting delegation consisted of participants of a six days training course on “Capacity Building in Budgeting and Finance for District Governments/TMA’s”. The Course Coordinator Ayaz Akhtar Ansari led the delegation.

 

 
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