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The Express Tribune

Published Date: May 7, 2013

Continual violence adding to development challenges

Growing
violence has added to the manifold challenges faced by the development sector
in Pakistan and investment in the social sector is important to overcome these
challenges, experts said at a book launch in Islamabad.

The
book, titled "Development Challenges Confronting Pakistan" was launched by the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Monday.

The
book is co-edited by Dr Anita M Weiss, the head of the University of Oregon
International Studies Department, and Dr Saba Gul Khattak, a former member of
the Planning Commission.

The
book is a collection of scholarly papers which identify structural impediments
in Pakistan’s efforts to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable social
development and also offer practical solutions to move forward.

Weiss
gave a detailed briefing on the book at the launch. She said that while there
are many structural problems confronting Pakistan, it is growing violence that
is poses the greatest challenge to Pakistan’s development prospects.

Weiss
cited Dr Abid Suleri’s paper on food security in the book and said that food
insecurity and conflict have eroded people’s resilience in the country.

“If
an individual’s security is not given preference in policy, it becomes
difficult to break the vicious cycle of poverty,” she said.

Other
papers in the book address economic growth, foreign aid, legal reforms and
dysfunctional politics.

Khattak
said that there is a need to increase investment in social sector development
and said overall social sector development must be the focus, rather than
heavily investing in any single social protection initiative.

Khawar
Mumtaz, chairperson of the National Commission on Status of Women, said the
authors seemed to agree in principle that a majority of Pakistan’s challenges
stem from state dysfunction, discontinuation of democratic system, and lack of
political will about the development discourse.

Mumtaz
also referenced a paper in the book on the role of clerics in development and
said involving them in development intervention only strengthens and
legitimises the clergy.