Pakistan’s governance system that it inherited from the British has become outdated and deteriorated over the years. The country has also failed to transform its colonial-era bureaucracy. In the book ‘Governing the Ungovernable’,Dr Ishrat Hussain points out various weaknesses which led to this fall, and proposes a comprehensive agenda to reform all main institutions; ranging from civil bureaucracy to private sector institutions. He co-relates the country’s poor economic growth to governance issues and states that the high economic growth seen under the military regimes was not a result of foreign assistance, but better governance. He disagrees with the popular belief that education and health sector’s poor performance is due to lower budget allocation but a result of governing issues and lack of service delivery. Dr Hussain says that the perception of Pakistan as a garrison state with little to spare for development funding as the majority of its budget is allocated to the military, is a myth. The writer discusses country’s key institutions from a historical perspective and lists reasons for their continuous deterioration and says the bureaucracy was weakened by structural changes during the 70s that politicised the institution. On the other hand, Dr Hussain, speaks very highly about culture of meritocracy in military and its good governance. I disagree with the author where he compares the bureaucracy of the first 30-40 years to that of today. It is like comparing apple to oranges. Overtime the country has changed and while peoples’ expectations regarding service delivery have grown, no proper mechanism has been devised for their provision. Electronic and social media prevalence has posed new challenges to the bureaucracy. Therefore it is not fair to compare the performance of a twenty first century bureaucrats with that of the 60s. I enjoyed reading the chapter titled ‘Society’. In it Dr Hussain says that there is a disconnect between the society and state, as rhetoric dominates over reason and logic in the former. “We have developed a unique tendency to disbelieve and discount any good news about our country or people and to exaggerate the negatives beyond all proportions.” It has become difficult to distinguish facts from fiction as even the educated opt for ignorant comfort. Discussing the youth, the writer says there is lack of confidence among the younger generation that has resulted in indifference, inaction and an unwillingness to resolve national problems. He believes that this leads to prevalence of negativity. “Nothing drains energy more than moaning or having to listen to a moaner. Your conscious is highly responsive. If you project negativity to those around you, these same negative feelings will reflect back to affect you. You will be derived of vitality. Misery, like happiness is contagious” – Samuel Johnson. This inaction and indifference have made things very uncertain and as a result people have started looking for a redeemer or a father-figure that promises to solve all our problems. Dr Hussain argues for the need to put in place strong local governments in place and suggests that local governments should be allocated funds on the basis of their district’s lack of development. Equity is important than equality as developed districts get compensated by private sector investment. While talking about fiscal federalism, he proposes the Provincial Finance Commission Award decide on allocation of resources to district governments. Problems of the Pakistani people can only be solved by well-placed local government systems. Without local government, concerns of citizens and business owners can’t reach the government. Moreover, there is increased accountability of government at the local level. Decentralised decision making is the cornerstone of good decision making. Dr Hussain talks about reforming other institutions and learning lessons from the neighbouring countries’ district governments. An interesting note about the book is that it mentions governance issues of all institutions except the military. Dr Hussain says nothing about certain powerful business lobbies which have high influence in the government and are always the ‘rent seekers’ to whoever is in power. How this behaviour of powerful industrialists and business lobbies hinders economic growth, is not mentioned in the book. Moreover, it does not provide any framework for governance reforms and is mainly an overview of the performance of the country’s various institutions. Nevertheless, it seems useful for policy makers and fresh graduates. I appreciate Dr Hussain for writing a book about one of the country’s most troubling issue and hope that more books are written on this theme.Published in Daily Times, September 18th 2018.