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This includes the disposal and treatment of the 10,000 tons of solid waste produced in Karachi every day; the treatment of industrial sewage that is poisoning Karachi’s ports and sea coast; and the vehicular emissions and combustion of agricultural waste which shroud Lahore and northern Punjab in smog each winter.
Apart from the moral imperative, there are three compelling reasons for the government to accord priority to addressing quality-of-life issues.
First, it is smart electoral politics to secure the support of the vast majority.
Justice: Progress has been made in addressing corruption and promoting the rule of law due to the ‘activism’ of the chief justice and the Supreme Court.
However, there are enormous, everyday challenges that confront the weak and vulnerable in Pakistan.
The majority of the people need primary healthcare which can be provided by a vastly expanded network of local and accessible clinics (in rural villages and urban neighbourhoods), with smaller hospitals in the towns and larger ones in the cities.
The best strategy may be to combine private care for those who can afford it, with publicly financed care for the poor, including under the government’s proposed health card scheme.
The solution may be again a public-private structure, eg to combine revenues from high income/luxury housing projects to subsidise mortgage interest for low-income housing.
Education: Universal literacy and the acquisition of knowledge and science will be vital for Pakistan’s prospects for rapid and sustained development.
However, the immediate priority of the average Pakistani is the acquisition of a skill set which can provide employment.
Thus, the government’s urgent objective should be to set up multiple vocational training centres to impart various identified skills to as many people in the ‘workforce’ as possible.