While Pakistan is stuck in the middle of political and economic chaos, preparations are reportedly underway for a technocratic setup in Pakistan. It could be either a significant decision or a challenge, made in the current political climate and circumstances. Implementing a technocratic setup is not a straightforward matter, and it involves various political, social, and economic considerations. If the rumours are to be believed, it is important to understand the purpose, the stakeholders involved, and the potential impact of the technocratic setup in Pakistan. Generally, governments interested in establishing a technocratic setup might be motivated by an interest in achieving specific policy goals or finding solutions to particular challenges. Politically, Pakistan has experienced periods of instability and governance issues in the past. Political transitions, power struggles between different parties, and tensions between civilian governments and the military have been recurring themes in the country’s political landscape. Additionally, addressing issues of corruption, ensuring the rule of law, and fostering a robust democratic system have been ongoing challenges for Pakistan. Economically, Pakistan has been facing several macroeconomic challenges over the years. Issues such as high inflation, fiscal deficits, external debt burden, and low foreign exchange reserves have put a strain on the country’s economy. The governments have been consistently relying on financial assistance from international institutions and; IMF to stabilize its economy. Before navigating through the most suitable governance model for Pakistan, it is essential to understand what a technocratic setup entails and examine the pros and cons associated with its implementation in the country’s governance. A technocrat setup refers to a system of governance or decision-making where power and authority are vested in experts or professionals with specialized knowledge and expertise in their respective fields. In a technocracy, decision-making is based on scientific, technical, and rational principles rather than being driven solely by political considerations or popular sentiment. Technocrats, who are often selected based on their qualifications and experience, hold key positions in the government or administration. Professionals chosen for technocracy are typically experts in their respective fields, possessing specialized knowledge and qualifications that make them suitable for decision-making roles in governance such as Economists who are often appointed to manage fiscal and monetary policies, address economic challenges, and stimulate growth. They may serve as Finance Ministers or heads of central banks. Similarly, Engineers with expertise in infrastructure development may be appointed as Minister for Planning and Development to oversee major infrastructure projects and improve urban planning, executing large-scale projects, Healthcare Professionals may be appointed as Health Minister, and Technologists; Professionals with expertise in technology and information systems as IT Ministers, Environmentalists may be appointed as Minister for Climate Change to address issues related to climate change and sustainable development, Educators may be chosen to lead Education Ministry to bring reforms and improve the quality of the education system, Legal Experts; Lawyers and legal scholars may be appointed for Law Ministry to reform legal frameworks, ensure rule of law, and enhance the justice system’s efficiency and Scientists may be given positions to guide research and development initiatives and promote innovation etc. In a country like Pakistan, where public acceptance of political representatives is mandatory, a technocratic setup may face challenges. The success of technocratic setups in Pakistan has always been a subject of debate and remains somewhat contentious. While technocrats have been able to implement certain reforms and address specific challenges effectively, their overall impact on governance and the country’s long-term development has been mixed. Pakistan has had technocratic setups before, throughout history, where technocrats were given significant roles in the government or was appointed to lead key institutions. These technocratic interventions were often aimed at addressing specific challenges or crises in the country and leveraging technical expertise to implement reforms. Out of the 25 individuals who have held the office of Prime Minister in Pakistan since 1947, 18 were elected by the National Assembly, while six served as caretaker Prime Ministers. Among the notable heads of the caretaker or technocratic governments were Moeenuddin Qureshi, Muhammad Mian Soomro, and Shaukat Aziz. Moeen Qureshi was an economist and former senior vice president of the World Bank. Muhammad Mian Soomro, in addition to being a member of a prominent Sindhi political family, had a career in banking. Shaukat Aziz, widely discussed among them, transitioned from his role at Citibank in the US to become the Prime Minister during the Musharraf regime. Here are a few notable examples of technocrat regimes in the history of Pakistan: 1958-1962: Ayub Khan’s Regime – After a military coup in 1958, General Muhammad Ayub Khan assumed power and established a technocratic regime. He appointed professionals and experts from various fields to key government positions. Notably, economist Shahid Javed Burki served as the Minister of Planning and Development, implementing various economic reforms. Overall, the period from 1958 to 1962 witnessed significant changes in Pakistan’s economic, health, development, and education sectors, laying the groundwork for the country’s subsequent development trajectory. The government implemented the “Industrial Policy Resolution” in 1958, encouraging private investment in industries and promoting economic growth. The implementation of “Land Reform Ordinance” in 1959 aimed to redistribute agricultural land to landless farmers, reduce feudalistic landholdings, and increase agricultural productivity. The “State Bank of Pakistan” was established in 1958 to control monetary policy, regulate banking, and promote financial stability. Pakistan also adopted a series of five-year plans to outline economic development objectives and strategies for targeted growth in various sectors. The “Indus Basin Treaty” was signed in 1960 with India, resolving issues related to water sharing from the Indus River and its tributaries, ensuring better utilization of water resources for irrigation and power generation. The “Education Commission” was appointed in 1959 to review and recommend reforms in the education sector and the “National Education Policy” was introduced to enhance access to quality education across the country. 1999-2002: Pervez Musharraf’s Regime – In 1999, General Pervez Musharraf took control of the government through a military coup. During his tenure, technocrats were appointed to important positions, including Shaukat Aziz, a former Citibank executive, who served as the Finance Minister and later became the Prime Minister. Aziz’s economic policies were credited with boosting economic growth during that period. While this tenure faced both praise and criticism, some of the prominent reforms during the Musharraf era included economic policies to stabilize the economy, reduce inflation, and control fiscal deficits. The government initiated privatization of state-owned enterprises; Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) and several banks to attract private investment. Tax collection systems were streamlined, significant investments were made in infrastructure, including road networks, highways, and the construction of the Islamabad-Lahore Motorway (M2), Pakistan’s first motorway, Gwadar Port development in Balochistan was initiated, women’s rights were promoted and measures to increase female participation in various sectors were introduced, including politics and education. The Local Government Ordinance in 2001 aimed to decentralize administrative powers, empowering local governments was introduced, and there was a significant expansion of media freedom and private media outlets. It’s important to note that while these reforms were initiated during the Musharraf era, their long-term impact and sustainability have been subjects of debate. The period also witnessed some challenges, including political dissent, allegations of human rights violations, and concerns about democratic accountability. Additionally, reforms initiated by one government may evolve or face resistance in subsequent administrations. 2007-2008: Caretaker Government – In 2007, Pakistan witnessed a caretaker government led by technocrats, which was installed to oversee the general elections. Muhammad Mian Soomro, an economist and former chairman of the Senate, served as the interim Prime Minister during this period. These technocratic setups were not without criticism, as they often side-lined elected representatives and faced questions about their legitimacy and democratic accountability. While technocrats can offer valuable expertise and efficiency in addressing specific challenges, their role in governance needs to be balanced with democratic principles and public accountability to ensure a more inclusive and sustainable decision-making process. Technocrats are typically appointed to their positions based on merit, educational qualifications, and professional accomplishments rather than through electoral processes, ignoring public input completely, A technocrat setup tends to prioritize technical expertise over public sentiment in decision-making. In a country like Pakistan, where public acceptance of political representatives is mandatory, a technocratic setup may face challenges in gaining public acceptance as it lacks democratic legitimacy. For a more balanced approach, striking a delicate balance between democratic and technocratic setups is crucial for effective governance in Pakistan. Both setups serve specific purposes based on their strengths and challenges. Technocratic setups involve appointing experts and professionals in ministries and departments where technical knowledge and expertise are necessary for policy implementation and addressing immediate issues. This ensures detailed planning and enhanced efficiency. On the other hand, democratic setups rely on elected representatives who represent the interests of the public in ministries and departments where understanding public sentiment and making decisions aligned with public needs are paramount. For instance, in economic and health ministries, technocrats’ expertise is essential, while ministries dealing with public representation should have democratic representatives. By combining both setups appropriately, a balanced and inclusive governance system can be established, empowering the country to address challenges effectively and promote overall development. The writer tweets @xee_que.