So what do the world’s greatest minds on nation-building have to say on sustaining and growing a viable nation? Combining the works of Plato in his priceless book The Republic, Adam Smith’s ‘The Wealth of Nation’ and Daron Acemoglu’s ‘Why Nations Fail’, we can safely say it’s the institutions that are accountable to the people that make great nations. Plato calls for every institution ie military, politicians, and the people to stay in their specific role. The military has to give space for the society to develop and stretch out; the politicians must work for public welfare without the interference of personal interest, and the people to specialise in their chosen field to contribute their part. A viable, ‘just’ nation is the one where people aspire to excel in their own role, chosen of their free will. The military has to maintain its aggressive character, the politician can act upon their philosophical/dispassionate character and the masses must be allowed to demand for their primal needs within their society. Only then can a nation prosper healthily. None of the three institutions can be allowed to jump ship. I guess Plato thought these are specialist fields and no one can perform the other’s duties. The personality required to run a country dispassionately or ‘Machiavellian’-like cannot be taken over by an emotional soldier or a skilled craftsman. Plato regarded democracy as the fourth option in the list of the preferred form of governments — the noblemen being the first, inspired leaders being second, merchants being third. The autocratic type of government was the worst just because it is inherently unjust to the masses. He also emphasised that political control has to be centralized so that institutions feel the need to redirect their focus on the masses. I gather the presidential system of government practiced by the USA closely resembles Plato’s model. They have a strong military, the political class is well entrenched, institutions promote rule of law and therefore, innovation, and the Senate consists of the ‘notables’. None of the ‘twain’ shall mix. No wonder Plato’s teachings are as significant as the teachings of the Bible in western governance training schools. Adam Smith in ‘Wealth of Nations ’regards innovative and productive labour not natural resources as the real wealth of a nation. He also felt that the greedy people of society are needed to take society forward. This labour is improved by the government spending on education, ensuring rule of law, and providing the right conditions for the labour to perform to its full potential. As long as the people of a particular nation are innovative and create technology, the nation would always have surplus wealth. Inclusive institutions that the masses have a stake in, help the nation grow. This also includes political and economic institutions. Acemoglu concluded that institutions serving the people are created by significant events in history Daron Acemoglu in Why Nations Fail decried the damage a self-serving institution can cause to nation building. When there is no central political authority that people consider to be legitimate then institutions grow into self-serving entities that inflict grievous harm. Inclusive institutions that the masses have a stake in, help the nation grow. This also includes political and economic institutions. Acemoglu concluded that institutions serving the people are created by significant events in history, that course corrects them towards people. He was especially harsh in his criticism for dictators’ that inherently make the nation weak by stifling their voice. This, I gather, hurts accountability. The example he gave was the way marauding Spanish invaders of South America took over the country from already existing despotic rulers. Ancient empires were subjugated and held hostage as their existing kings were autocratic and exploitative. My conclusion is that what Pakistan needs is a legitimate political authority that can redirect our national institutions towards the welfare of the masses. This central authority should be able to enforce rule of law across the board and allow for the innovators, investors, and the skilled to show off their talent and make the nation prosperous. The writer can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, May 23rd 2018.