The gradual erosion of social infrastructure, endemic poverty and the growing inequality have made our society violent and militarised. Pakistan is currently faced with numerous existential issues including lack of good governance, the population boom, rising violent crime — especially against women and climate change. A substantial proportion of the population remains deprived of the basic resources needed to survive.A recent study shows that as much as 64 percent of the population does not have access to piped drinking water. The percentage without ‘safe’ drinking water is probably larger since piped drinking water frequently carries bacteria. Almost 47 percent of the people are malnourished. The housing situation is so bad that 81 percent of the housing units have an average 1.7 rooms which are inhabited by an average of seven persons. The literacy rate is low and the standards of those few who make it to college or universities are plummeting at a dizzying pace. The overall consequence of all this is increasing pressure on a fragile democratic polity. A significant section of the population perceives that there is nothing in this growth process for them, which is a factor in the resurgence of sub-national groups. Consequently, a new conflict is emerging between centralised state structures and a polarised polity, which is associated with a heightened level of violence in society. The polarisation of society along religious, political, ethnic, communal and regional lines has been facilitated by the undermining of the social values through which diverse communities had lived together in a pluralistic societyFailure to devise a strategy that could come to grips with this development crisis has been an important factor in social polarisation and the resultant difficulty in strengthening democratic institutions, particularly a culture of democracy. In recent years, the polarisation of society along religious, political, ethnic, communal and regional lines has been accompanied by an undermining of social values through which diverse communities had lived together in a pluralistic society. The social polarisation is now fuelled by violence and various forms of banditry which have reached a scale that threatens not only the credibility of political institutions, but raises the question of whether governance based on a centralised state structure is feasible at all. Political instability is scaring away foreign investment and hurting the economy.Back in the 60s, Pakistan was one of the fastest growing economies in the developing world. In 1965, our GDP per capita was $116. Today, the countries which were lagging behind us in the 1960s have overtaken us. GDP per capita lies at around $1,600 whereas GDP per capita of China and South Korea are around $8,123 and $27,538 respectively. Politicians are commonly blamed for politico-economic crises, and are viewed in isolation, sans regional comparisons, to argue that our politicians and democratic system carry exceptional faults, which must be fixed via exceptional means. These comparisons are ineptly made with developed states to condemn our system. In the 1990s, unelected ‘powerful institutions’ overtly dismissed assemblies often following concerted campaigns by loyal analysts and journalists to paint the illusion of a complete meltdown of the system. Since 2010, things have become more covert with no unnatural dismissals of assemblies, but only of prime ministers via dodgy verdicts. Political incompetence is not behind the ongoing decline of the political system, rather, it is powerful, overambitious and unelected institutions. Over seventy years of an establishment-dominated political order — whether directly or in cooperation with civilians — has acted as a speed breaker in the path to a prosperous, democratic and politically stable Pakistan.Personal pursuit of power by implying corruption, nepotism and dishonesty have not helped rebuild institutions. All this has done is damaged them further. More unfortunately, the judgements and the accountability process we see today, in which favourites are being forgiven while those not falling in line face blackmail and trials in kangaroo courts. We have been through many political turning points before, only to see them turn into nothing. Yet anarchy, insecurity and a lack of consensus on all vital issues characterise Pakistan’s current domestic scenario. The benefits of development have been unevenly spread, and have mostly accrued to the privileged classes. Egotism has been the primary concern of successive governments in Pakistan, and the trend has been maintained to this day. We live in an era marked by rapid economic, technological and social change around the world but remain unwilling to cope with the changing global scenario. We are not even ready to bring sustainable change within. We have an elephant in the room but no one is ready to acknowledge its presence. If this persists, it is Pakistan which will be the loser. The writer is PhD Political Science, Civil Servant based in Islamabad. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweet@zafarkhansafdarPublished in Daily Times, August 9th 2018.