Public Policy: Process, failure and way forward

Ali Asghar Bhutto : The writer is a young professional and writes on historical, socio-economic, political and policy issues. He can be reached at:

Public Policy can generally be defined as “a set of actions of a government to resolve the issues faced by the nation in any country”. Usually, there are three elements involved in the public policy making i.e. problem, players and policy. The experts of the area have given five steps of public policy process: (1) Problem Identification; (2) Policy Formulation; (3) Policy Adoption; (4) Policy Implementation; and (5) Policy Evaluation.
The governance in developing countries like Pakistan has been facing various challenges around the globe in the policy making process. In such countries, there is dire need to focus on the area of policy making by their rulers. If this area is neglected by the Country administrators and gamers of the governance, their nations fail and face critical issues. Public policy is such an important area that directly affects the lives of the common people.
The short-sightedness of policy makers puts deep consequences on lives of the masses. Therefore, it is important for every contemporary leadership to focus on public policy making by following its proper process in true letter & spirit.
General Causes of public policy Failures. There are five common causes of public policy failure in developing countries: (1) Ideological Asymmetry; (2) Leadership Commitment; (3) Governance Structure; (4) Under-Utilisation of Resources; and (5) Lack of Awareness in Masses.
Ideological unity is a key element to start a journey to the national rise. It has been a frequent tool of evil powers in every era on the planet earth to divide the human race into small groups based on geography, religion, sect, language, culture etc.
Likewise, the East India Company (EIC) while its reign on the sub-continent has hit this land’s ideological unity at its depth. The revival of nations of the sub-continent in specific and the world in general is dependent on ideological unity on their basic school of thought. The act of getting rid of different schools of thoughts, sects and divisions that divide human race into small pieces and bringing the masses on unanimous thought process is the first step towards inclination.
The political leadership plays a vital role in national growth and development indeed. The nations are under curse where specific families and groups like Capitalists, feudal and self-centred influential bureaucracy continually administrate by not allowing ordinary people to enter the political structure.
In such a situation, policy makers have great responsibility on their shoulders to critically analyse the issues/problems and to suggest remedies to resolve them by bringing up the young competent leaders of the society from every sector of life. For example, it has now become utmost important for the leadership of Pakistan to get rid of the 1935 Act and frame its independent governance model based on ideological symmetry.
It has been very unfortunate in Pakistan that various leaders came and went during the last 7 decades despite their attachment with either political party, they have secured existing political model which is based on the Act of 1935 primarily designed by EIC to enslave the nations of the sub-continent. During such sensitive time, true and committed leadership with a vision to actually free its nation from old chains of slavery is inevitable.
The governance structure that very beautifully allows and permits rise in corruption, misuse of authority, lack of accountability etc. certainly causes several hurdles in the policy implementation process. One of the most important foundations of national stability is freedom. If political dictation comes from foreign powers, economic and financial transactions are regulated by IMF, World Bank and other influential multinational companies (MNCs), it explores that such governance structures can never deliver in the best interests of the public.
Nature has gifted every piece of land certain natural resources which are enough for them to survive on this planet. It is their unequal distribution which generates problems and issues. So, the distribution of wealth in any nation on the basis of justice is a key factor of economic growth. The economic instability and mal utilisation of resources is a key cause of public policy failure anywhere in the world.
The Production, Consumption, Distribution and Exchange of wealth are the basis of any economic system. There are three economic systems as yet the world has seen i.e. Capitalism, Socialism and the Islamic Economic System. All three systems present their own principles on all four bases of economics. Pakistan was ranked 154th among 189 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) 2020. Despite being economically self-sufficient, the per capita income of an ordinary man in Pakistan is around 2 USD which is a reason for the increasing crime rate in the Country.
The policy makers need to focus on the foundations of the economic system of Pakistan rather than putting efforts to correct it on the surface level.
The country which possesses literate masses is a blessed nation on the globe. Masses are the key stakeholders in the public policy making process. Policy making without involving its key stakeholders shall cause to generate unsustainable public policies. Academia is also one of the key collaborators in public policy making. For making tenable public policies, it is very pertinent that there must be a participation of policy stakeholders (Bichard, 1999). A good policy always fails to provide results when it is being developed without seeking required information and participation of policy stakeholders (Bullock, 2001).
In Pakistan, the literacy rate is around 62.3%. About 60 million of the country’s population is illiterate. Nations invest in their human resources to make them productive citizens. Despite substantial talent in this country, Pakistan is on the last lines of international growth in various sectors like technology, agriculture, education etc. Statecraft in collaboration with academia is required to train the nation and invest considerable amounts of funds in the education sector.
The proper public policy making process will help in setting forth mechanisms to achieve the prescribed objectives. It has been learnt from policy making process of developed countries that there are various techniques through which governments could be able to implement public policy successfully i.e. bringing more possible engagement of people from grass root level and continuous training on ideological symmetry, strengthening the absolute role of parliament based on free decision making, ensuring fair utilisation of resources.
One of the greatest philosophers of human history, Shah Waliullah Dehlvi (1703 – 1762) has narrated in his compilations that: “There is a direct link between a nation’s economic system and the moral values of the masses.” One of his biggest followers, Shah Saeed Ahmad Raipuri (1926-2012) has narrated that: “Society becomes hell, when it is led by cruel, arrogant, liars, selfish, profiteering and hypocritical governors.”