Workshop held over Public Policy and Governance

  • Policy making is a complex process best left to experts and professionals, says Sami Khan

Forman Christian College (FCC) Centre for Public Policy and Governance (CPPG) held a one day workshop in collaboration with the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) on Thursday to ‘assess the status of returning Fulbright fellows in public policy and the discipline of public policy-prospects and future direction’.

The workshop was held to obtain a better understanding of the perceptions of Fulbright returnees on the issue of the discipline and state of public policy in Pakistan.

As many as 46 Fulbright alumni who had obtained Masters in public policy and governance were invited to share their experience and further suggestions for advancement in the discipline of public policy schools in Pakistan. A sizeable group attended the seminar and discussed their hopes and ideas to revamp the policy sector in Pakistan. They were also asked to evaluate the growth and expansion of public policy programs in Pakistan

FCC Vice Chancellor James Tebbe opened the seminar and talked about the importance of focusing on public policy. He said, “Pakistan is rich in mineral resources and its people are hard working and competent. The only area where we lack is focus on public policy which has halted the country’s progression.”

Public Policy Review Director Sami Khan said that there was massive scope for improvement and development in the public policy sector. “The reopening of democratic channels in the government has necessitated collaboration between bureaucrats and technocrats,” he said. He further stated that policies should be made without outside interference and influence. “Policy making is a complex process and the government should engage professionals and experts in the process,” he added.

Fulbright public policy alumni, employed as a civil servant said that he was thoroughly disappointed with the system. He said that despite holding a masters degree the local system does not encourage critical thinking. “Politicians need to be more open to criticism in policy matters,” he opined.

The post graduates were asked as to how the degree in public policy had helped them improve their career prospects and how public policy and governance in Pakistan could be improved.

Imran Sarwar, a Fulbright scholar at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University said that the experience had proved instrumental in launching his social entrepreneurship initiative. He said, “Part of the difficulty I faced in deciding to start up my own organisation rather than getting a regular job was that people in Pakistan are not very accepting of failure.” He explained that his experience in the US taught him to accept failure as an important learning experience.

CPPG Director Saeed Shafqat said, “Policies seem to be made in a vacuum and senior policy makers seem to be far from ground realities. It is hard to link these realities with innovation and policy making but that is what makes the field so fascinating and promising.”