By: |Syed Tazmeen Javed|
Prime Minister Imran Khan rose to power on July 25th, 2018 with lot of hopes, aspirations bestowed upon him by the people of Pakistan. He sworn in as the premier on 18th August, 2018 vowing to bring visible changes for Pakistan and its inhabitants. He based his government performance over the ground of upcoming 100 days, which according to him would set direction for next 5 years.
He began his tenure as the PM with his maiden speech to the nation on August 19th at Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV), pledging to remove ills of preceding governments and gave a hope to establish a welfare state just like on the Medina Model, established by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Although, writing this opinion after 100 days could have been unjustified, as the real measure to asses any government performance is certainly a year, but this leverage has been given by the government itself.
The PM began his tenure with the austerity drive, surprising selection of Usman Buzdar as the Chief Minister Punjab, giving the latter preference over other veteran politicians. The PM was adamant that his choice will bear fruits for the largest populated province of Pakistan. His selection was met with severe criticism based on the lack of expertise, Usman would enjoy. Furthermore, few initially considered Buzdar to be a seat warmer who was installed as a puppet CM for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insafs’s aide Jahnagir Tareen.
However, this seat warmer narrative marginalized with the passage of time and then it became clear Buzdar is here for a longer period. This did not go well with few other senior politicians amid reports of Aleem Khan and Governor Punjab Chaudhry Sarwar running the show. All main news outlets reported that the decision of transfers in Punjab Bureaucracy was made by influential individuals; keeping the CM Punjab in dark. This rumor became reality as the video leaked from Pakistan Muslim League’s (Q) social media page, a coalition partner of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) addressing concerns before Jahangir Tareen to control Chaudhry Sarwar. Ex-CM Punjab, present day speaker Punjab Assembly Pervaiz Elahi was on the forefront to address the apprehensions.
If Punjab doesn’t go well, this will be the last coffin on the hopes of any change, MR PM!
Now coming to the austerity drive, however much appreciable the steps taken by the current government in a bid to reduce pressure of national exchequer but the media and few so called liberals made fun of sales of buffaloes. Perhaps, the greater announcement to bid government vehicles and adding money back to national exchequer has not been successful. Mr PM, 100 percent your intentions may be pure, but it does not warrant to real optics if the desired result is equal to zero. Mr. Fawad Chaudhry, the information minister must provide the figures that how much substantial amount of wealth has been generated through these measures. So far we are oblivious from any development on this populist drive.
On diplomatic front, however this current regime headed by premier Imran has achieved greater things. This was not possible without the help of the army, which was visibly on the other page in Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) tenure. The ground breaking of Kartarpur project , which is an aspiration of Sikh community living in Pakistan and across the border is by itself a commendable move.
The despicable behavior shown by Indian authorities, especially Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj stating that “talks and terror cant go simultaneously” on the day of ground breaking where cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu along with Indian diplomats participated in the ceremony cleared who is reconciling with peace wave and who is drifting away.
A second win on foreign front is that United States of America has sought help from the Prime Minister, in a letter written by the President Donald Trump asking Islamabad to facilitate talks with Afghan Taliban. This huge development came after the PM Imran from his twitter account gave a reality check to Donald Trump for accusing Pakistan in being complacent in the war against terror. This reality check and successive strategic failures in Afghan soil forced Washington to turn towards Pakistan. Moreover, the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi— a Washington based Saudi Journalist paved way for Pakistan to achieve bail out package of 6 billion Dollars from Saudi regime. As the finance minister Asad Umar performance was less satisfactory, the PM Imran was found seeking help from Saudi authorities to help Islamabad in tacking current account defict.
The trips to China was anticipated to bring more flow of cash in Pakistan, but it later turned out to be expecting high from Beijing. However, with the shifting paradigms of international politics the proximity between Pakistan and China under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will haunt other players in the region.
But alas, on internal sphere, the PTI government so far has not been able to impress. Yes true, MR PM your government inherited a trade account deficit of 18 billion Dollars: A mess of 10 years but that does not exempt the government from any harsh criticism. You and your party thrived over the Change narrative, presenting yourself as a Messiah to resolve issues. Where are the old speeches where You, Mr PM used to lambaste government for surging the Dollar prices? Your mere consolation “Dont worry, everything will be fine” will not suffice a local man’s genuine hunger.
True, your manifesto was to hold accountable the perpetrators of corrupt practices, but that does not rationalize the poor economic performance. Mr PM, you have to realize that the foreign investment from July to October has gone down to 67 percent. Your fight to retrieve looted wealth back to Pakistan may be good as one of your adviser, Shahzad Akbar claimed to trace 10 billion $ of black economy in Dubai.
Where are the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as the nation has the right to know the nature of signed agreements, mechanism to bring the looted wealth. Yes, Corruption is menace for growth, but relying on retrieving looted wealth at the cost of wealth production, expansion of tax net, harsh decision will not sustain for long.
Your vision to reduce poverty with Chicken, Egg scheme will only look good, if other economic indicators are rising well. Last but not the least, confrontational politics with the opposition will only suit you if you take actions against your incompetent ministers, realize the urgency of understanding ground realities and leaving the U-Turn Mantra!. The choice is yours.
The writer tweets at: https://twitter.com/iamtazmeenjaved