Looking Back: How Pakistan Became an Asian Tiger by 2050 Author: Nadeem Ul Haque Publishers: KITAB Pgs: 193 Hailing from a country where most analysts present what they consider to be the definitive, structured and exclusive ‘master-plan’ to rid Pakistan of its political and administrative ills, Nadeem-ul-Haque’s work is unusual in that it does not present itself as a panacea to Pakistan’s problems. Haque does not present a diagnosis of the current illness nor does he offer a prescription to remedy it. He does not take the reader along a sacred path that would lead to guaranteed success. Haque does not present himself as a Virgil guiding anyone through Pakistan’s socio-political labyrinth. The task Haque has taken upon himself is much more difficult, a lot more challenging, and one not many of his compatriots have attempted over the years. His style is curt and he hammers the point however many times it is needed with a purposeful disregard for flowering the text. Substance is of concern to Haque, neither is form, and he sticks to his aim. Haque is not writing about the definitive truth but about ‘the possible’ and its journey towards the ‘probable’. Assuming that a desirable future goal has been achieved, Haque takes away the entire debate about its plausibility and instead encourages the reader to consider the imaginable means to achieve that goal. Haque does not identify an ailment and then show a path to follow, waypoint by waypoint, to remedy it. Instead Haque summarises the ills, as he sees them, into eight broad categories and then implores the reader to review them critically. Haque wants the reader to think what possible steps can be taken to achieve the final goal. He wants the reader to consider the value of debate, discussion and the exchange of ideas. His rallying point is not a messianic individual swooping onto the scene to present the pre-structured revealed truth to emancipate Pakistanis; no, Haque’s heroes are an array of individual thinkers, forming groups as and when needed, discussing, evaluating and refining their collective thoughts and ideas into focused, competitive and localised initiatives, that reform, restructure and rebuild various elements of the system, simultaneously. The book relies on a solution-centric, highly democratic, and organic and constructivist approach that takes into account the heterogeneity of the society he is writing about. Pakistan’s discourse has favoured top-down, prescription based and replicable precision dominated ideas that are repetitively touted as the ‘next best one size fits all solution’. Contrary to this, Haque shows there is room for, and success in, ideas, collaboration and tailored solutions, tweaked specifically to the localised issues faced by citizens and participants. The one theme central to his book is that the seemingly chaotic and highly dynamic interactions at the base of Pakistan’s social strata are places where adaptive solutions can germinate. Haque’s work asks readers to contemplate the society’s ‘initial conditions’, how they can lead to localised solutions and by doing so ushers readers to consider a better framework for analysis and solutions. The book relies on a solution-centric, highly democratic, and organic and constructivist approach that takes into account the heterogeneity of the society the author is writing about Donor led mechanisms that emphasise government controls and state-led solutions reinforce central bureaucracy led implementation. The key managerial impetus for this structure is predictable feedback, ease of its evaluation and variance analysis which results in a system that is adequately determined. This is self-reinforcing as the colonial structure of Pakistan’s bureaucracy encourages rent-seeking and cartelisation which in turn reinforces the reason for donor involvement. Haque introduces his readers to “Complexity Theory” and asks them to turn the entire model upon its head. Rather than seek conformity to pre-planned solutions, we must allow local networks to bring their knowledge and expertise to bear on the problem. Diverse implementation leads to diverse feedback loops and the system would have to adapt itself to the solutions that are successful. Thus the system cannot be state-led, but the state itself must adapt to localised solutions. The result is a system that cannot be predicted by the state or by donors. They see it as the prevalence of chaos because the decisions of individuals and groups become much more important than the state, donors and bureaucracy. For them the entire system becomes unpredictable however, its unpredictability does not mean it is not deterministic. Adaptability, responsiveness and amalgamation become the key avenues of reform rather than prescription, proclamation and enforcement. Haque asks readers to take the journey of unpredictability, contemplate the results that may emerge, consider unintended consequences and then make changes to the initial conditions to adapt the system in order to incorporate and learn from the results. The emphasis shifts from linear thought and determination towards creativity, collaboration, efficiency, adaptability and the flow of ideas. Haque asks his readers not to search the system for predictability and conformity but embrace the chaos and complexity that comes with creativity. “Complexity Theory” has, as yet, garnered little recognition among Pakistan’s very small group of innovative political scientists. Perhaps, as more of them and their peers read this book, the seeds of Haque’s ‘networks’ can be sown. Of the numerous attempts to understand and explain possible solutions to Pakistan’s ills, Nadeem-ul-Haque’s book stands out due to its creativity and ability to encourage its readers to think. The writer is a freelance contributor Published in Daily Times, July 28th , 2017.