Tasneem Ahmad Siddiqui. Towards Good Governance. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2000. 235 pages Hardback. Rs 495.00.

Publication Year : 2001

Tasneem Ahmad Siddiqui is a former civil servant who has written a book that is in tune with the governance issues being faced by Pakistan on a variety of fronts. The author has had much experience of the grassroots level and provides the reader a view of the changes at that level for a dynamic societal change. There is clear evidence of the faith that he seems to have in the resourcefulness of the people of Pakistan. The hallmark of the book is its concise and easy reading with not just criticisms but workable solutions that are offered by the author. At the outset, the crisis being faced by Pakistan is highlighted. The author delves into the historical antecedents of this crisis, apportioning blame to the Harvard Advisory Group, as it was their flawed development strategy with a pro-industry bias that ignored agriculture. They believed in jump-start modernisation without giving serious consideration to the fact that Pakistan has a strong agricultural base. The stated wisdom of such a policy at that time was that surplus labour from agriculture would be shifted to industry and this would tackle poverty and income inequalities as espoused by the ‘trickle-down theory’. This thinking was not an exclusive one, as such a strategy was pursued by policy-makers of many newly independent states in the post-Second World War era. However, the ensuing importance granted to profits as opposed to wages in the ‘development decade’ resulted in greater inequalities of income, and a greater concentration of economic resources, whereby twenty-two families came to own 80 percent of the banks and 95 percent of the insurance companies. According to the author, what the policy-makers failed to realise, through the import of such a Western model, was that in the long run low wages would generate low profits.