Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Don’t expect miracles from the PTI government

“Tall claims aside, those of us questioning Imran Khan also know that he has what it takes to deliver.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs meeting of the Federal Cabinet at PM Office. Photo APP 

Any person with a reasonable understanding of the state of affairs would know that it takes more than just a few months to deliver positive results and put a nation on the right path. It could take longer for a country like Pakistan, the 5th most populous in the world that is riddled with economic crises.

Prosperity is a gradual process. It requires great efforts and patience. But contrary to what logic says, a significant number of people in Pakistan have already started to question the newly-elected government which, according to them, should have delivered better results from day one, keeping with their lofty claims.

But why are we so impatient?

Why do we expect our Kaptaan, who has been elected prime minister for the first time, to perform miracles? Those, before him, who had been in power for several terms, were not able to either. Then, is it fair to expect it from Imran Khan?

Well, the answer to the high expectations lies in the political campaign which Khan, and his allies, ran for nearly a decade against the previous ruling parties. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) insisted that corruption was the core of all evils in Pakistan and promised an immediate panacea if elected to office. Tall promises about Imran Khan’s future performance were made and the speed of progress was greatly exaggerated to the level of fantasy.

To share a few stances, I remember Murad Saeed, the incumbent minister for communications and postal services, was seen in a video addressing a rally before the general election. During which he said:

Jis din Imran Khan nay halaf liya, Pakistan ka do sau arab dollar jo bahar para hua hai, Imran Khan aglay din usko Pakistan wapas lekar ayega (The day Imran Khan takes oath, he will bring back the $200 billion of Pakistan’s money that is abroad.)

He can further be seen claiming in the same video that:

Kehtay hain ke Pakistan mein youmiya baraa arab corruption hoti hai… kitni corruption, baarah arab youmiya corruption aglay din jab Imran Khan apnay office jayenge tau sab ki filain bulayenge aur hisab kitaab shuru … (It is said that in Pakistan there is daily corruption of Rs.12 billion. When Imran Khan will take office, the next day he will ask for everyone’s files and start the accountability process).

Granted, this is an extreme example, of the most exaggerated claims made by a PTI leader. There were others as well, some which we were confident could come true. But they didn’t. For instance, Ishaq Dar, the former minister for finance, was criticized for approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2013 by the entire PTI leadership, especially by Asad Umar (his successor now). Umar blamed him for a lack of an economic vision. We, as Pakistanis, were certain that under a PTI administration the country would not seek a bailout from the IMF. But soon after being handed over Dar’s ministry, Umar began issuing confusing statements about whether Pakistan would go to IMF or not. On one occasion, he even defended Dar for seeking a monetary package by saying that it wasn’t his fault. Realizing that the PTI government too might have to seek a bailout, they deleted their tweet made in 2015 from an official Twitter account, where the former prime minister was called a “beggar”.

Unfortunately, not even Imran Khan has lived up to his promises, some of which were unveiled in PTI’s 100-day agenda.

After relentlessly criticising the Punjab police and the former government over the Model Town incident, Imran Khan vowed to ‘depoliticize and strengthen the police force” and “revolutionise access to justice”, but the inability of this government to take concrete measures against the culprits of the Sahiwal killings, raises many questions about his priorities.

There are many such claims, countless of them, which remain undelivered.

However, the PTI-led government isn’t just about lofty claims, after all, they have taken many praiseworthy steps towards the country development. At least Imran Khan, it seems, takes the public pressure of performance seriously, unlike those in the past. Those who question Khan and his administration, also know that he has the ability to deliver and hope he stays on the right track.