Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken too much burden on himself in the making of ‘Naya Pakistan’, instead sharing the burden with his close associates.
Despite early setback on certain decision-making, he is confident of setting the directions of his government in 100 days. He needs to bring some balance as taking too much responsibility involves certain risk as well.
The incumbent government and the prime minister, so far, have the credibility and support. What it requires is a proper strategy in formation and implementation of his strategy, something which is missing in certain areas.
There is certainly a will to do something good but, when it comes to decision-making, an element of confusion delays action in certain areas. The government may not resist for long making some tough but unpopular decisions, but it is confused over its timing.
People’s expectations are too high and on ground things are quite difficult. The PM will soon realise that one of the major challenges Pakistan facing is the rising power of the ‘non-state actors’, and in certain decisions even the state looked hostage to the non-state players.
‘Naya Pakistan’ required a national policy, for which it should also take other stakeholders and the Parliament into confidence. It requires proper and not popular economic policy, foreign policy and national security policy. It is time to appoint a National Security Adviser.
Besides, there is need for major judicial reforms, electoral reforms, education reforms and health policy. Can some direction be set in 100 days? People are ready to give him time and even otherwise he has five years, but all this has to be in the right direction.
Across-the-board accountability has to be hallmark of Imran Khan’s government and what the writer has learnt while discussing the issue with Federal Law Minister Farogh Nasim is that whatever amendments they intend to bring in, the present NAB Law would not include institutions, which already have their own mechanism of accountability.
“We will be bringing major legislation soon, which includes amendment to the present NAB Law or may bring a new law for across-the-board accountability,” he said, adding that judiciary and military establishments would not be included in it as they have their own process of accountability.
He also hinted at complete overhauling of 100 years old Criminal Procedure laws, which would be replaced with new laws. “I have already brief the prime minister about the changes we intend to bring,” he added.
In the last few days, the PM has taken the supervision of building dams as well as construction of five million houses and creating 10 million jobs, something which he had promised during the elections.
He has also kept some high profile portfolios including all important Ministry of Interior. While he has now appointed his close aide, Shaharyar Afridi as Minister of State on Interior, he is still the In-charge Minister. One of the reasons could be some high profile inquiries including money-laundering and he has decided to personally monitor the progress in bringing back the looted money.
Imran Khan has a reputation of a fighter, but in the last few weeks of his government, he has to retreat on some decisions, while not fully sure whether his decision of making Usman Buzdar and Mehmood Khan as chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, respectively would produce the desired results or not.
It would have been an ideal start for his government had former chief minister Pervaiz Khattak be retained as the CM, and someone like Jehangir Tareen or Aleem Khan be the chief minister of Punjab. But, one was disqualified while the other is facing a NAB inquiry. As a result, he is looking after the progress of the two governments from Islamabad. This has brought additional burden to the PM, particularly in handling of Punjab.
Secondly, he has to withdraw the name of Atif Mian from the Economic Advisory Council due to protest from religious groups. After his resignation, two other members of the Council had also resigned.
Like previous regimes, from Musharraf to Nawaz Sharif, his government too will face a challenge in reforming madrasas and bringing them in the national educational fold. His political opponent and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) leader, Maulana Fazlur Rehman could use it as a launching pad for his protest against the PTI. So, it will be a test for the PTI and Imran Khan whether it will go ahead with his reforms agenda or review it. He could use the JUI’s rival faction and its leader Maulana Samiul Haq.
All his task forces are still to finalise the planning and strategy in all the fields and one has to wait and see when these policies would be unfolded.
Except for in KP, the PTI government in Centre and in Punjab are not as strong as it looked. The only advantage the PTI and Imran have at the moment is the division within the opposition. Even then, the government is hesitant in taking some unpopular decisions like increase in gas, petrol and electricity tariff and that too before the by-elections on a number of NA and provincial assembly seats, schedule to be held in mid-October.
This may be followed by local bodies elections, much before the scheduled time, as PTI leader Aleem Khan, who is also the Minister for the Local Government, as well as the PML-Q wants early polls after bringing drastic changes to the LB system.
The PTI leaders know that without having a strong grip on the LBs, they may not be able to control Punjab for long as the PML-N still has roots here. So, the task apparently given to Aleem Khan and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi is to win over the PML-N city and district nazims.
It will be a bold initiative on the part of Prime Minister Imrsn Khan, if he is able to bring about major reforms in the faulty LB system and empower local bodies with financial and administrative powers. The direct election of mayors would generate a lot of political activities, particularly in the cities like Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city.
If his government wants to expose the PML-N and the PPP government performances, the best way is to have open media policy through Right to Information law. Media has already appreciated premier’s austerity drive but raised questions over certain contradictions on VIP culture, as his policy of austerity and VIP protocols have not fully been followed in all institutions.
Opening of Governor’s or CM Houses for the public could attract people for few weeks and months, but people will judge the government on the basis of its policies and performance.
Rulers always fall to the trap of publicity, and this had been the pattern of successive regimes for which they used Ministry of Information. If Prime Minister Imran Khan and PTI government also intend to follow the same pattern through media strategy, the writer believes they are on the wrong path.