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Pakistani elite must stop abusing power

If nation is to progress, says outgoing UNDP country chief

Marc-Andre Franche, the former country director for United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan, has said that a critical change in the country can happen only when the elite, the politicians and the wealthy sections of society sacrifice their short term goals and stop abusing their power to enrich themselves, or favour their friends and extended families.

Franche, who had been the UNDP country director for the last four years, bid farewell to Pakistan to take up the position of Chief of Financing at the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. He made these remarks during an interview to a Pakistan daily shortly before his departure.

“If there is one thing I leave with, it is a sense that the only way a critical change will happen in Pakistan is when the elite of this country, the politicians and the wealthy sections of the society, will sacrifice their short term, individual and family interest, in the benefit of the nation,” Franche said.

He said the political and economic elite must also try to build a consensus so that Islamabad progresses.

“You cannot have a political class in this country that uses its power to enrich itself, and to favour its friends and families. This fundamental flaw needs to be corrected if Pakistan is to transform into a modern, progressive developed country. The political and economic elite must also try to build a consensus,” he added.

Franche also said that it was also frustrating for him to see that people are so capable and intelligent but not making more progress than they should in terms of poverty reduction, inequality, modernising the state and functioning institutions.

Asserting that it is not his role to say what Pakistan should or should not do, he, however, pointed out that the basic human rights of the minorities, women and the people of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are not respected.

“The fact that even in 2016, Pakistan has 38 percent poverty; it has districts that live like sub-Saharan Africa; that the basic human rights of minorities, women and the people of FATA are not respected; that this country has not been able to get its act together and hold a census, or that it has not been able to push for reforms in FATA, an area that is institutionally living in the 17th century,” he said.

On being asked as to why the emphasis on growth has somewhat waned during his tenure as compared to the time under the previous deputy country director of the UNDP in Pakistan in 2011, Franche agreed that the strategic framework for economic growth developed by the previous administration had not been taken by the present dispensation.

He, however, said that several elements from that framework were adopted in broad terms in the Vision 2025 document.

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