Looking at the history of policy formulation in the country Pakistan can boast of some very good policies formulated and executed during its 65 years of formal existence as a nation-state such as Agenda 21, Pakistan Poverty Reduction Strategy, National Growth Strategy etc. On the other hand it has some glaring examples of poorly designed or badly executed policies. Sometimes it did not have a policy at all for a long time in the field in crucial sectors like agriculture and industry, land use, transport etc.
One can highlight the following salient features of the policies made and/or in operation;
· Procedural mismatch
· Institutional overstepping
· Structural flaws
· Evaluation failure
· Personality imprints
· Global influences
· Implementation inadequacies
Policy formulation is the exclusive domain of the elected representatives. However they do not take interest in its formulation. Normally they just rubber stamp the policy drafted by the bureaucrats, creating crises of legitimacy. It also creates crises of ownership, not properly reflecting the wishes of the people. Who will monitor its implementation if those who were supposed to make it just abdicated their role?
Every institution is responsible to formulate policies belonging to its sphere with suitable inputs from all the concerned stakeholders. However in case of some very important national issues such as defence, national security, foreign policy etc the concerned ministries have been abdicating their responsibility and allowing others to call the shots
Some of the features listed before for judging the relevance and efficacy of a good policy are sadly missing in most of the cases. These include internal/external inconsistencies, lack of stakeholders’ participation, absence of evaluation mechanism etc
Every policy must have some clearly defined evaluation mechanism not only to gauge its impact but also to learn lessons for future.Unfortunately this crucial element of policy formulation has been missing in most of our policies
Policies should reflect the wishes of the people through their elected representatives and owned by the institutions even if there has been a champion behind any policy. However in case of Pakistan most of the policies are known by the name of the person who championed it and invariably go to cold storage when the personality is gone
Globalisation is affecting the policy formulation directly as well as indirectly in every country. This is all the more penetrative where the state is suffering from capacity and legitimacy deficits. Pakistan is no exception to this wholesale blind following of global actors’ prescriptions which can be visible in almost all major policies formulated. This is not bad if the policies formulated have been in sync with the wishes of the people but not in accordance with the wishes of foreign forces with one size fits all label
Sometimes best designed policies are doomed because of their poor implementation. Basic reason for this lopsided implementation has been the absence of commitment which in turn stems from either lack of ownership at the political level or capacity deficit at the implementation level i.e. bureaucratic, or at both levels, have been the major causes for this failure