Like every year before, today, all is set in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to celebrate its 75th independence day with a massive pump and show. At 75, the country is resiliently weathering all the storms and the nation is fully geared to stare the challenges in their face. After its independence from British India on 14 August 1947, it has confronted many daunting obstacles both internal and external and is still facing a few tougher ones ahead. Pakistan is the fifth largest country on the planet earth with 220 million people, blessed with a rare asset of demographic dividend, having nearly 65% below the age of 35. Likewise, with its vital strategic location on the regional map, Pakistan has hardcore professional armed forces fully equipped to ensure its territorial sovereignty against a five times larger adversary, India. At its very outset, Pakistan had to grapple with some harsh realities. Immediately after its independence as the world’s largest Muslim state, it faced an unjust distribution of resources and did not get its rightful share as agreed in the original Partition Plan. Similarly, the Boundary Commission headed by Sir Cyril Radcliffe succumbed to the pressure of Indian leaders. Hence, it maliciously handed out a shady deal and awarded the District of Gurdaspur to India. This manipulated award facilitated direct access to the Indian military into Jammu and Kashmir and thereby gave an upper hand to India over Pakistan when the two nations went to war over the territory in 1948. The people of now Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) have been denied the Right to Self-determination by India despite numerous United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and the dispute still remains unresolved issue on the UN Agenda even after 75 years. Pakistan has manifested rare resilience in manifold crises and conflicts over the last 75 years of its existence. While the Kashmir quagmire continues, Siachen and Sir Creek disputes have also not been resolved between the arch-adversaries. The way forward for Pakistan lies in investing in improving human capability and manufacturing exactly what China, South Korea, and Singapore have already done. Thus, the time has already come to set the priorities right by carrying out a dispassionate appraisal of the seven-plus decades. The lowest point in Pakistan’s short history came when India fanned the flames of insurgency in East Pakistan which eventually led to the creation of Bangladesh in December 1971. However, the people of Pakistan reconciled with the shocking reality and moved on to become a nuclear weapon state to thwart any existential threats. On the diplomatic front, Pakistan has suffered from numerous setbacks on account of military and economic sanctions clamped by its Cold-war allies. In spite of these gigantic challenges of colossal proportions, Pakistan continues to play an active role in global politics due to its strategic location just next to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. The strategically significant Gwadar Port is being developed by China, as its transnational shipment point for which a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is being built with Chinese investment, as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It is being positively hoped that the many Central Asian States, along with Russia will join CPEC, once peace and normalcy return to Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s economy is struggling due to ever-soaring external debts, and its persistent reliance on foreign assistance to manage the Balance of Payments. Unfortunately, the lack of emphasis on indigenization and low priority accorded to industrialization in the last three decades has led to heavy dependence on imported goods and services. This has caused a serious current account deficit. Likewise, despite being an agricultural economy defined by an abundance of land, an irrigation system, a favorable climate, and an extremely hard-working younger population, Pakistan is yet to become an exporter of value-added agricultural produce. Ironically, it has to import wheat, sugar, and cotton to meet local demand. The four-decade-long wars and conflicts in Afghanistan have also taken a very heavy toll on the socio-economic fabric of Pakistan. Pakistan remained the prime target of the Soviet Union during the 1980s when it was supporting the Afghan struggle against Soviet occupation. Similarly, it was targeted by Non-State Actors (NSAs) during US-NATO War on Terror in the wake of 9/11. As of today, the skyrocketing inflation, increasing trade deficit and depleting financial reserves of the state are a sad reflection on the poor state of Pakistan’s economy. Therefore, present grim scenario rings alarm bells for serious repercussions on the governance, national security, and society of Pakistan. Unfortunately, the surging inflation above 11 per cent as per the reports of the Economic Survey of Pakistan, is pushing more people into the mayhem of crippling poverty. The rule of law depicts a grim picture due to the lack of social justice. There are loads of pending cases across various Pakistani courts. Out of these in several cases, the parties to a case have already gone into their graves while the legal heirs are struggling to seek the desired remedy under the law. Furthermore, Pakistani society has also become a victim of this political mess. There is increasing disunity among the population over political parties. The polarized society is further promoting hatred and intolerance among people. Pakistan is already struggling over the divide between class and ethnicities and now thanks to the current dilemma one other factor has also become part of it. The economic problems are creating a situation of anomie in society, according to sociologist Ibn-e-Durkheim anomie promotes individualism that deteriorates the stability of society, giving rise to social crimes. It is quite evident that if the same condition prevails the people would certainly deviate from the norms of society to earn livelihoods through theft bribery and other illegitimate ways. There is an increasing threat to the national integration of states. It is also breeding elements of hybrid warfare in society. Hence, it is high time to foresee in which direction the country is heading. The only panacea to all these ills and problems is the promotion of true democracy in letter and spirit. Therefore, on its 75th independence day, Pakistan desperately needs a new beginning for a prosperous future. The prevalent economic and political conditions need to be revisited by those at the helm of the affairs. The rules of the power games are required to be redefined. The national interest must be made the top priority and the self-seeking personal gains be discouraged and played down by all means possible. Public service delivery by the government departments must be aimed at ensuring maximum public good by employing the least state resources. The missing good governance must be ensured at all levels. The socio-economic development, across-the-board accountability, rule of law, and meritocracy have to be made the guiding principles of statecraft. Although Pakistan has become a nuclear state, it has attached a very low priority to the Human Development Index (HDI). Sadly enough, the country ranks at the bottom of nearly all major parameters of HDI, as well as on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Likewise, indicators are not all encouraging in judiciary performance, passport ratings, and travel safety standards. This all signifies that loads of sustained efforts need to be done to transform this rare trait of resilience into substantial development of its human resources. Needless to add that Pakistani people are extremely hard working and enterprising. All these weaknesses reflect serious structural issues that can only be ignored only at the peril of our people. So, the question arises what would it take to change and fix our priorities and policies to be set right that serve the interests of the people? There is no denying the fact that the elite capture of power and the allied incompetence are vividly reflected in every major sector that is seriously impacting the lives of our people. The fundamentally flawed design is affecting the poor the most but has broader and far-reaching implications by impeding productivity and economic growth. The way forward for Pakistan lies in investing in improving human capability and manufacturing exactly what China, South Korea, and Singapore have already done. Thus, the time has already come to set the priorities right by carrying out a dispassionate appraisal of the seven-plus decades. We must set pragmatic targets and achievable goals for the next 25 years. It goes beyond saying that given the right vision, a clear sense of direction, and the required leadership, this great nation can rise to its full potential, far sooner than anticipated. The writer is a civil servant by profession, a writer by choice and a motivational speaker by passion!