Rameeza Majid Nizami Electricity crisis? Have a few days of uninterrupted supply while we divert money from somewhere to pay the IPP bills. Trains off the rails? Heres a cash injection to make it better, but we both know well be back here in a few weeks time. PIA planes being kept airborne by prayers whispered on rosaries? Errrok, scratch that, I think thats still the only way theyre airborne. We, in this country are fans of short-term solutions. Long-term or future planning is an idea we applaud as a theory and try to stay as far away from as possible in practice. Its practically an allergy; thinking about future planning makes us break out in hives. We cyclically arrive at the exact same crises in ever-increasing degrees of seriousness every few months. Well, it seems well have to do something about it this time, whinge and whine and wail as we might. Theres just no way around it. The first place we need to look is at our numbers. With a population in which, at the moment, two out of three persons are under the age of 30, Pakistan has a challenge/chance/opportunity to power itself out of the crises it is in. The potential of a large, youthful population is enormous - if it can be harnessed. However, if our population continues to increase at the rate it is doing, any capacity building we undertake today, will not in fact be an increase in any real terms. For now, we need to fulfil existing shortages and aggressively increase capacities for a future in which we can already predict the tremendous strain we will be put under because of the unhampered increase in numbers. Unfortunately, while this is not rocket science and fairly clear to a person of average intelligence, the triumph of malfunction that is our government can hardly be expected to arrive at this logical conclusion. A pie is cut into smaller and smaller slivers, when the number of people consuming it multiply. Less for everyone is not the answer. Even in the face of absolute obduracy and fat-headedness, we must keep repeating the need for constraining the number of people to satisfy, while at the same time increasing opportunities available to them. This is necessary so that any slight increase in capacity building we may achieve in the next few years is not nullified by the increase in demand. It can be explained in basic economics as limited resources and unlimited - and ever-increasing - wants and needs. To do this, we will have to pick and choose where we decide to spend our money, what is the best use of our dime, and what will make the most effective investment for our future? Short-term solutions in every quarter, while necessary politically, are just money down the drain, until we figure out a more sustainable roadmap. Pakistan will have to prove itself in this test of character. The problems we, the country of many, face are equally numerous, but they are not impossible to solve.Two five-year plans of reforms, rigorously implemented ought to do it. The question is: Will we develop these five-year plans a hundred years from now?Doesnt seem like we have that kind of time. Email: rnizami@nawaiwaqt.com.pk