Tough road ahead for Prime Minister Imran Khan

  • PTI must break the ‘traditional’ ways of doing politics and running the country

The pandemonium that broke out from the opposition benches upon the PM’s vote count, protesting against the alleged election rigging, is an indicator of the rough road ahead for Prime Minister Imran Khan. The plus point is, with a seasoned team of politicians sitting in opposition, Khan’s government will be forced to be on its toes.

Euphoria reigns supreme as hopes climb higher that every issue can be ‘fixed’ with Khan leading the team. The funds stolen and taken to foreign shores will return to make the economy robust. Ishrat Hussain, the PM’s adviser on institutional reforms and austerity, has also headed the National Commission for Government Reforms from 2006 to 2008. He may come up with institutional reforms that he was unable to come up with before and create miracles.

Khan’s government takes over at a point where Pakistan is in the forefront of internal issues of multifaceted nature as well as global and regional conflicts. The task looming ahead is a daunting one.

A 21-member federal cabinet, comprising 16 ministers and five advisors, announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan must grapple with an extraordinary set of challenges facing Pakistan. Expectations of the populace are riding high and it will take time to realise that there are no ‘quick fixes’ option anymore.

The challenge for PTI is to convert the promises made into policies that are robust, implementable and headed by competent people with time related targets given and answerability preferably on a regular monthly basis in Parliament in a question and answer session. Performance must be the corner stone of a Parliamentarian being awarded a ministry, not patronage. This basic parameter has to change ahead of any promised change failing which no change of the nature promised is possible.

“Imran Khan’s acceptance speech indicates he is fully aware of the need for national unity to overcome economic challenges and reducing the political and social divide.” (General Talat Masud: August 15, 2018)

Also important is to empower the Parliament and make it supreme instead of important decisions to be made outside by a coterie of dynastic rulers, sycophants and boot lickers

Pakistan must now enter the period of transition and subsequent transformation on different levels, including economic, social and political. This cannot be expected to happen overnight. However serious efforts by the new government must be seen to be undertaken to move in the right direction. There will be false steps but quick retrieval and redirecting course is a must.

A revisit to CPEC projects and provisions of contracts under the last political dispensation is a good thought.

The increasing space by religious based parties and extremism must be combated. Though traditional Islamic parties did not manage to win a lot of votes in elections but Tehreek-e-Labbaik Party did manage to secure 2.2 million votes.

Striking a balance between the civil-military relationship will be a challenge for Khan’s government. The problem in the last political dispensation has been moves that were not seen to be aligned with the national interests of Pakistan — understanding the dynamics involved is make the relationship a functional instead of a dysfunctional one is a basic need of PTI.

Also important is to empower the Parliament and make it supreme instead of important decisions to be made outside by a coterie of dynastic rulers, sycophants and boot lickers. The important policy decisions must be debated upon, discussed and then a consensus duly arrived.

“More deliberate and serious involvement of the civilian government in foreign and security policy at the institutional level is necessary, if Imran Khan wants to pursue his declared policy goals. This is especially relevant in conducting relations with India, Afghanistan and the US,” states General Talat Masud. It is here that expertise and knowledge of Dr Shireen Mazari and Shah Mehmood Qureshi can pay dividends.

Imran Khan has achieved two milestones.

First, bringing the middle class, the youth and the educated segments of the society back in politics.

Second is the transformation of Pakistan from a strong two-party system to a strong three party system.

Both these changes are huge and carry with it a higher degree of performance based expectation by the people who voted him in power. Those Imran Khan pushed out of power will be waiting in the shadows to attack at every misstep. Imran Khan needs to understand by virtue of breaking the cycle of musical chairs between two parties he is in the un-envious position of a very high expectation of delivering. Should PTI not come up to mark or be seen to be making genuine efforts in the right direction power may return to the status quo supporting parties without a second chance to PTI for a very long time to come. PTI’s first stint will lead to some wrong steps, some wrong decisions. This if made, must be retrieved and corrected immediately and gracefully instead of making a bad situation worse. The direction of the ‘democratic order’ in future will depend on performance of PTI in coming days. PTI must break the ‘traditional’ ways of doing politics and running the country. The bubble of euphoria will break soon enough if PTI falls in the same trap parties before them had fallen.

Best of luck to Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team!


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