Alliance for change.

We face many paths to doom today - both economic and security-related - but only a few paths to avoid it. But the state doesn't adopt these paths as they undermine the interests of strong civilian and military elites who control policy.

While egalitarian ideas drove Indian, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan freedom aims, ours mainly reflected the fears of Muslim elites about their interests under Hindu rule and had few pro-poor ideas. Since '47, the Pakistani state has lived up very well to the objectives of its creation by ably guarding elite interests and ignoring those of the masses, so much so that it now faces doom. In fact, the Pakistani state may be in South Asia the one least focused on the people.

The limits of this elitism are vividly illustrated by the current perma-polycrisis. A crisis is bad enough, a polycrisis (one encompassing multiple domains such as economic, political, natural, social, etc) worse and a perma-polycrisis (a polycrisis that shows no signs of ending) more so. This crisis started as an economic one under the PTI and was exacerbated by the political standoff between Pindi, PDM and PTI; the global economic crisis; and finally the floods. No end is in sight to most of its immediate causes or the elitism in which it is rooted.

The history of successful states shows that social movements play a critical role in improving the quality of governance and making it more people-centred. Thus, it is critical for Pakistani society to organise itself better and form an alliance or coalition for change to force elites to adopt egalitarian policies that help avoid disaster. A coalition is a group of persons and/or entities that have common aims and who agree to work together towards achieving them. Coalition work includes three ingredients: agenda, partners, and strategies.

Our society needs coalitions to stand up to elites.

It is easy to list an agenda to avert doom. Economically, we must increase taxes and export revenues to reduce our fiscal and external deficits that often lead to crises; reform state enterprise (including milbus), power and water sectors; and increase investment and productivity to achieve sustainable growth. It means adopting poor-led progress strategies that make increasing the incomes of the poor as the main engine of national progress, by providing them with organisations, market power, protection, assets, skills and social services. Politically, it means civilian sway over Pindi and its spy agencies...

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