off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Let us strive for self
sufficiency in every field to
enjoy real Independence

Pakistan celebrated its 73rd anniversary of Independence on August 14th 2020 but one often asks oneself are we really an independent Nation? Can we afford to take independent decisions and refuse to compromise in every field? Nations can only enjoy their real independence if they are economically strong and independent. Had we been really independent we won’t have to follow the dictates of International Monetary Fund to formulate our economic and finance policies nor could our so called “Friends” have stopped us from going to Malaysia. Let us all make a solemn pledge that each one of us will strive for achieving self sufficiency in our respective fields so that we too can enjoy the fruits of real independence.

Firstly it is not the same Pakistan which our forefather had given us in 1947 under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. We have lost half the country in 1971, did we make a sincere effort to identify the reasons for this national tragedy? Did we learn any lesson from our past mistakes? Have we stopped from making the same experiments again and again? Unfortunately the answer to all the above questions is in Negative.

Still it is time that we all including our rulers, leadership in different important institutions of the country wake up and start working honestly, sincerely to achieve self sufficiency in every field. It is only possible if we involve the professionals in different field, listen to them, give them due respect, take into confidence all the stake holders after meaningful dialogue and discussions before we formulate our policies which should be both for short term as well as long term and these policies should not be changed, altered with the change of the government. If only half the efforts and energies which our rulers are wasting on character assassination of their political opponents is spent in the right direction, we as a Nation are capable of making miracle.

We desperately need to concentrate on improvements in the social sector, reducing the poverty, creating more job opportunities, check population explosion, increasing our exports and reduce or at least minimize our dependence on Friends overseas and foreign financial institutions like World Bank and IMF. Following their policies is a sure prescription for disaster. All the programmes in the social sector including Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and the much publicized EHSAS programme should be implemented intelligently by taking the well known social scientists on board. At least half of the funding of these programmes must be used to set up small businesses, cottage industry to give jobs to the poor in urban slums and in rural areas while the remaining 50% can be given to those in dire need of immediate financial assistance. Let us not clap and be happy by looking at long queues of people lined up to get cash. This will only help to convert us into a Nation of beggars.

In the health sector which is the area in which I work, there is a tremendous potential for drugs exports from Pakistan and we did achieve some progress in the past before the pharma industry went into crisis. Instead of creating a hostile working environment for the pharma industry by crying about the high cost of drugs, let the government take the leadership of pharma industry into confidence. Create a conductive working environment, provide them help, assistance to expand and modernize, set up new state of the art drug manufacturing facilities which are of international standard and we will succeed in getting into the even developed market in addition to the Low and Middle Income countries (LMICs). Some postive steps have been taken by the goverment recently in this regard which needs to be appreciated. Before the COVID19 Pandemic Pakistan was desperate to import PPEs and other protective equipment but now we are able to manufacture and even export most of these things. Thanks to the efforts made by Federal Minister for Science and Technology Mr. Fawaad Chaudhry and National University of Science and Technology (NUST). This only shows that we have the talent and capabilities what we need is to harness it and use it in the right directions. Let the regulators work as facilitators but without compromising on quality and standards instead of creating hurdles.

A few Impact Factor biomedical journals published from Pakistan besides providing a platform to Pakistani researchers to publish their research is also attracting manuscripts from overseas earning precious foreign exchange for the country. This is their contribution to the economic development of Pakistan and here too there is a great potential for further improvement. Let those in the regulatory bodies which are supposed to help, guide and assist the Pakistani biomedical journals wake up from deep slumber and also play their role which unfortunately they have not been playing so far. With proper planning we can increase the number of good quality standard biomedical journals published from Pakistan which enjoy indexation in well reputed international databases of the world. It will also help in more manuscript submissions from overseas thus earning more foreign exchange so badly needed for economic progress.

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