June 27, 2019
Imran Khan Should Focus on Rebuilding Pakistan Than Targeting Political Rivals
By Saeed Qureshi
The PTI (Pakistan Tehrik-e- Insaf) party is sitting in the saddle of power since 18 August 2018. It is the day when Imran Khan, the PTI Chairman took oath of the office as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan. Out of that Five years tenure, PTI has already exhausted ten months. The PTI and for that matter its Chairman Imran Khan’s slogans, roadmap and pledges announced before and after elections for bringing a remarkable revolution for the uplift of Pakistan were extremely plausible and enticing.
It was an historic victory for PTI, a back bencher political party to defeat the traditional political parties as well as the veteran politicians, and take over power to rule Pakistan for five years. The young generation was in the lead allover Pakistan in bringing the PTI and Imran Khan in power. There were quite a few prolonged sit-in demonstrations in big cities of Pakistan and specifically in Islamabad; the Capital city of Pakistan.
During his victory speech, Imran Khan as prime minister laid-out the policy planks and outlines of his future government. Khan therein said that his inspiration to build Pakistan as a humanitarian state was based upon the foundations and principles of the first Islamic State of Medina established by prophet Muhammad himself. He announced that his future government will put poor and commoners of the country at first and all policies will be geared towards elevating the living standards of the lesser fortunate.
He promised an investigation into the allegations of election rigging. He said that he wanted a united Pakistan and would refrain from victimizing his political opponents. He pledged that everyone will be equal under the law. He promised a simple and less costly government devoid of pomp and artificial luster. He pointed out that the spacious Prime Minister house will be converted into an educational institute and that the governor houses will be used for public benefit.
On foreign policy, he declared to learn from China and hoped to have better relations with Afghanistan, United States, India and the Middle East. He said his government will strive to have a balanced relationship with Saudi Arabia and Iran. The people of Pakistan were exuberant and excited for an historic revolution and believed Pakistan to be emerging as a country advancing on the path to the progress and prosperity and as a modern state in making.
Now when we look around in Pakistan, we find just the opposing scenario unfolding of what was promised by prime minister Imran Khan. The economy is in bad shape. Pakistan seems to be worse than what it used to be during the previous dispensation of PPPP and the PMLN. We find an overall and expanding deterioration and pervasive decline in all spheres of national development as well as the nation-building institutions.
We shudder to watch the television and the anchors announcing the rapid decline of the Pakistan rupee and fattening of Dollar. There seems to be no stoppage in this trend of Pakistan rupee getting weaker day by day and moment by moment. Currently one U.S. dollar is equal to Rs. 164.00 which is an all-time high in Pakistan.
The PTI failed to achieve Rs. 4435 billion taxes target. Fiscal deficit is Rs.3.6 trillion. So far it overspent 2000 billion dollars. Inflation has gone by 13% and interest 15 %. Abolishing zero regime for exporters has caused low exports. Imposing 27% custom duty on 2400 TAMFF lines is another blow to the export and import business activity. At the same time PTI has procured 5 trillion rupees from IMF and other international financial sources.
What has proven to be the bane of the PTI government is that it has engaged itself in a useless wild goose chasing kind of pursuit against the political opponents as its top priority. That priority or undertaking should have been left to the concerned law and order agencies and related departments. The involvement of the prime minister and his ministers with venomous declarations, vendetta oaths, frightening challenges and dire threats hurled at the political opponents have been a consistent pastime with the stalwarts of the incumbent PTI government including the prime minister and his ministers.
Granted that the politicians in the past, have been corrupt and grabbed money. Yet this should be carried along with other urgent and indispensable reforms such as bridling the worsening law and order situation including the daily murders, thefts, highway robberies and break-ins and similar heinous crimes. Runaway economy has to be bridled. Rupee has to be stabilized and exports to be encouraged with more incentives and easy loans.
Thus far, what the people come across is a kind of bitter blame game, rhetorical rebuttals and vicious condemnation against the political rivals and party leaders, launched by the foot soldiers and spokespersons such as Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, (the former
information minister and presently Federal Minister for Science and Technology), Madam Firdaus Ashiq Awan, the fire- spitting advisor to the prime minister and other stalwarts in power. This rancor and vendetta are so intense and unstinting that the leaders of the opposition parties notably the PPPP and PMNL have been implicated in corruption cases for which they had to remain in jail for a prolonged period of time and are still being prosecuted.
Even otherwise the culture of corruption and lawlessness is still in place. The PTI government has not been able to carry out other measures and reforms that could stop the pervasive culture of corruption all over Pakistan. It demonstrates that the aim was not to root out corruption and lawlessness but to use that ploy for fixing, harassing and sidelining the political opponents or political contenders. That attitude and outlook is a barrier for democratic culture and political freedom to the opposition leaders.
There should be an end to this kind of rancorous blame game and political witch-hunting by the PTI government that is aimed at keeping the political rivals out of politics and domain of democratic culture. The PTI government should focus on launching such schemes, projects, programs and reforms that can eliminate the overall poverty of the masses. It should enact laws and efforts to root-out lawlessness, culture of crime and thuggery, moral and financial malpractices in Pakistan.
Along with initiating financial and fiscal corruption cases against the politicians, it should have initiated and launched programs, projects and reforms geared towards nation building. It should aim at bringing relief to the people and making their lives easy and comfortable as we can see in many countries elsewhere in the world. A gigantic campaign of restructuring all public serving departments and institutions such as education, agriculture judiciary, infrastructure, road buildings, provision of water and electricity in every house and business location. Besides Pakistan needs to create a civil society by applying the local government systems and models of the countries such as USA, Canada, Great Britain West Germany and Scandinavian States. That would bring Pakistan in the comity of the fast developing and even developed nations in due course of time.
PTI Government seems to be focused on wrong priorities. Primarily it is not a question of fixing the politicians but improving and modernizing the state and society of Pakistan, Pakistan needs modern models of education, health, jobs, courts, infrastructure, roads, highways, modern sewerage and water supply systems that we find in advanced countries. The dirt, the filth both physical, moral and
similar wicked pursuits should be rooted out by copying the systems enforced and in place in developed countries. Turning Pakistan into a later day State of Medina is all alright from moral and religious angles. However, the people need the modern socio-civic living comforts such as electricity, water, roads, hospitals hygiene peace and institutional efficiency.
Imran Khan who lived in western countries and must be having awareness as to how those countries are serving their people with galore of socio-civic facilities, peace, law, order and harmony. Imran Khan can become the architect of a new, modern, prosperous, civically advanced and a modern state of Pakistan. Thereafter the people won’t flee and sneak legally or illegally to foreign countries for better and peaceful living, jobs, security and galore of socio-economic and civic facilities, true justice, accountability and safety.
Let us not forget that Pakistan came into being after great efforts and colossal sacrifices by the Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent under the inimitable leadership of Quaid-e- Azam-Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his illustrious companions and cohorts. It looks Pakistan would be going through another phase of chaos and turmoil caused by the meaningless tussle between the PTI government and the opposition parties. If this bizarre situation prolongs or worsens, the army may step in and impose martial law as we have witnessed in the past.
In the aftermath of the All Parties Conference, JUI Chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman announced in a press conference to observe July 25, 2019 as a Black Day against what he accused of rigging in general elections. This might spur another crisis that would entail oppressive retaliation by the PTI government embittering the political climate further.
The Writer is a Former Diplomat, Senior Journalist and Former Editor of Diplomatic Times Published in Pakistan