Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Now When the General Elections are Over in Pakistan


August 1, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

General elections were held in Pakistan on 25 July 2018 to elect the members of the 15th National Assembly and the four Provincial Assemblies of Pakistan. These elections would go down into the national and political history of Pakistan as game changers. The PTI (Pakistan Tehrik- Insaf) led by inimitable Imran Khan, has defeated the traditional contenders in these elections by a wide and impressive lead of 118/272 to 59 seats of the Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) headed by Main Nawaz Sharif.

The former prime minister is now serving a ten-years jail term in Rawalpindi jail along with his daughter Mariam Nawaz. In a verdict on the “Avenfield reference” filed by the National Accountability Bureau(NAB) on 6 July 2018, the Federal Judicial Complex of Pakistan sentenced Sharif to ten years in prison. His daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Safdar Awan were sentenced to seven years and one year in prison, respectively.

This historic and game changing victory by a relatively new political party is like a whiff of fresh breeze in the stale corridors of power for such a long time. The PMNL headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister had three terms in the government: the first 6 November 1990 – 18 July 1993, the second from 17 February 1997 – 12 October 1999 and the third term from 5 June 2013 – 28 July 2017.

In the backdrop of allegations of pre-poll rigging to sway the elections’ results in favor of the PTI and against the PML (N), Imran Khan has offered to fully cooperate with the opposition parties over investigation into the alleged rigging in polls. The PTI is considering to form governments at the center and in Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan. The top brass of PTI has decided to contact the other political parties namely MQM-P, GDA, PMNL-Q and independent candidates to join government at the center, and presumably in three provinces namely Punjab, Sindh and KPK (Khyber Pakhtun Khawa). 

Unlike his pre-elections lethal rhetoric, the post elections victory speech of Imran Khan exuded a sentiment of reconciliation and sobriety. He has asked the rival parties to forget the pre-election heat and bitterness particularly between the two parties PTI and the PMLN. It could be condoned as the adage goes that “all is fair and justified in love and war”. Imran Khan’s reconciliation offer should also be relevant to the ladies with whom Imran Khan is reported to have been associated in the past. It is rather a sign of healthy political culture that the opposition refrained from drumming up the right or wrong sexual scandals of Imran Khan as claimed and revealed by his erstwhile wife Reham Khan is her book in which she castigated Imran Khan for sexual perversions.

Imran Khan’s post-election speech was a charter and package of reforms that he intends to implement and enforce in Pakistan. His claims and reforms make a long list that would take pretty good amount of time for implementation all the more in a politically divided arena of Pakistan. Yet there is no doubt he proved to be not only a valiant fighter in the cricket field but also lately proved that he has the same motivation and dogged determination which had been demonstrated in the cricket arena and brought victory to Pakistan.

Now the fiery and emotional speech that looked extempore is replete with commitments to clean and straighten the political, social, cultural, economic and foreign affairs turfs of Pakistan.  One can only wonder that while at the federal level, he might move forward and implement partial or entire agenda and package of reforms, at provincial levels there could be bottlenecks where the opposition parties would be able to form the governments. If he moves ahead with the perceived and targeted progress and success, he would not only make history as the architect of a new modern Pakistan but establish his personal credentials as a leader true to his mission and conscience.

Let us see what far-reaching reforms and fruitful changes which the 19th prime minister of Pakistan would bring and inject into the smeared politico-social culture of Pakistan. The number one emergent issue that he outlined for his government is to eliminate corruption (fiscal) from the lengths and breadth of Pakistan. As to what strategy he evolves and adopts is yet to be seen. His second priority is good and efficient governance that includes institutional overhaul whose range is wide and tricky.

But his top priority is to mold Pakistan in a pattern of the state of Medina by which he means a welfare state in which no one is denied justice and no one dies of hunger. In this regard, he particularly mentioned the lower and weaker sections of the society deprived of fair and equal privileges, rights and justice by the upper and powerful classes.

His second priority is to open more educational institutions, schools and colleges so that 25 million deprived boys and girls could be accommodated for education. Simultaneously his administration would focus on the medical facilities particularly for the females who die during the pregnancy for want of timely attention.

Then he talked of human development on a countrywide scale one of which would be the provision of clean and abundant water to the entire country particularly in water-scarce area.

He emphasized that if China, a friendly country to Pakistan can bring out 70 crore people out of poverty why cannot we do that in Pakistan as well. He intends to enforce the supremacy of law at any cost by committing that henceforth justice would be for all the people high or low, poor or rich and there wouldn’t be discrimination on the basis of privileged and non-privileged.

He emphatically mentioned about the economy of Pakistan which he described as extremely fragile and in bad shape. His good governance plan aims at simplicity by the rulers. His emphasis was to drastically reform the prevailing taxation regime and culture because the rich and affluent classes and businessmen avoid paying taxes partially or fully. Imran Khan talked of abandoning the palatial edifice of the prime minister’s house and instead moving his office to a relatively simple, accessible and modest office.

Accountability seems to be watchword of his agenda that he promised would start from him and go down. That indeed is an historic pledge which if truly implemented would refine the society and may throw up a Pakistan with least corruption and wrong doings both in government echelons as well as institutionally and privately.

His plans and manifestoes include providing jobs particularly to the youth of Pakistan. Yet the most distinctive hallmark of his envisaged policies, and outlook is to normalize relations with the neighbors of Pakistan. In this regard he mentioned all the three neighboring countries viz India, Iran and Afghnistan and his resolve to sot out the mutual issues through dialogue and in an amicable manner. He would prefer to have open borders as well a productive dialogue to eliminate the cross-border tension, bitterness, terrorism and promote trade.

In a rare display of fairness and integrity, he has offered and agreed to open and investigate all those election seats that the opposition and rival candidates claim and allege to be rigged. He is ready to go along with any procedure to find the truth. That indeed a very generous and principled offer that looks positive as compared to the past elections held in Pakistan.