It has been a little over a month since Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office and it has been reported that during these 30 days he along with his ministers have stepped back from the promises they made on as many as 16 occasions.
Residence in Prime Minister’s House
PM Khan before and after the elections had continued to say that he would not reside in the Prime Minister House. When voted to power, it was announced that he would live at the National Assembly Speaker’s House in the Minister Enclave. This was followed by another announcement the very next day which said that he would reside in Punjab House. Eventually, PM Khan decided to settle in the PM House and opted to reside in the Military Secretary House located in the same premises. While this goes against his claims, Khan’s spokesperson Iftikhar Durrani asserted that the MS House is situated in PM Staff Colony, a claim which is factually incorrect. This house is a few yards away from the residence designated for the PM whereas colony is outside the PM House.
Imran in his election campaigns had time and time again asserted that he will not have any protocol. However, after assuming the top office, the government spokesman said PM will have only two vehicles and two servants at his disposal. However, it has been observed that PM Khan is accompanied by six vehicles.
Durrani contested this saying that the PM still uses two vehicles for security purpose, a jammer carrier and one security vehicle as accorded by the blue book. He further clarified that Khan has only two servants.
No travel abroad in first three months
Contrary to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry claims that after taking the oath the PM would not travel abroad during the first three months in the power; PM Khan left for his first international visit on Tuesday. The premier visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Durrani defended this saying that the meetings were essential for possible future investment.
Use of special planes
It was decided in the cabinet meeting that neither PM Khan nor his ministers will use special planes for foreign visits and will instead travel commercial. However, on his first official visit, Imran flew on Air Force One, a special plane for the PM.
Durrani defended the criticism saying that the premiere was to fly at three different cities in Saudi Arabia and then to UAE, something which was not possible through commercial flights.
Moreso, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also travelled to Afghanistan four days ago on a special aircraft.
Minister’s foreign visits
Foreign visits of ministers were also banned in the second cabinet meeting. However, Imran was accompanied by four ministers on his first official visit including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry and Abdul Razzaq Dawood.
Durrani shut down the criticism by saying that the ministers were crucial for the visit and their inclusion was not a “courtesy call.”
Appointment of Ehsan Mani as PCB Chairman
In the past, Imran had heavily criticised former PM Nawaz Sharif for appointing Najam Sethi as Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). However, he did the same when Sethi resigned from the position, two days after Imran assumed office, by appointing Ehsan Mani as Chairman PCB.
Depoliticisation of Bureaucracy
PM Khan promised that bureaucracy and politics will be kept separate. However, District Police Officer Pakpattan Rizwan Gondal was first removed from his position and then surrendered to the Establishment Division after he refused to apologise to Imran’s wife, Bushra Bibi’s, former husband Khawar Maneka. The matter blew out of proportion and the matter was taken up by the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, Deputy commissioners of Chakwal and Rajanpur have also complained about the political pressure applied by PTI MNAs.
Inauguration of development projects
PM Khan had earlier called out Nawaz Sharif for inaugurating different development projects as, he thought, this should have been done by the head of the concerned department. However, he went against his own words when he inaugurated the Rawalpindi-Mianwali express.
Retraction of Atif Mian’s appointment in Economic Advisory Council
One of Pakistan’s most established economists, Atif Mian was removed from the Economic Advisory Council days after his appointment due to his Ahmadi faith. The PTI government had vowed not to give in to the pressure asserted by the religious right. However, they went against their claims when they reportedly asked Mian to step down.
Hike in gas prices
When the issue of hike in gas prices first surfaced, the Information Minister denied all such reports. However, the reports turned out to be true alarming the masses. Moreso, as Chaudhry stood beside the petroleum minister making the announcement, he did not seem the least bit embarrassed for making wrong claims.
Durrani justified this decision of the government on the grounds that there’s Rs67 billion circular debt of the gas.
Citizenship for Pakistani-born Afghanis and Bengalis
Late Sunday, PM Khan announced that Pakistani-born Afghani and Bengalis will be granted citizenship. He said that since he holds the office of the interior ministry, he will direct the ministry to come up with a comprehensive policy in this regard.
However, two days later he changed his statement, saying that it was just a food for thought and not a final decision. Durrani lamented that Imran hasn’t backed out from his suggestion, adding that Khan’s comment was to tell people to mind the difference between who came to Pakistan as refugees and those who have been born here.
In his victory speech, Imran had asserted that as per the oppositions demands, all those constituencies in which rigging was alleged would be opened and a fact-finding commission would be initiated.
However, when PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique went to the court for recounting of NA-131 where Imran was the winner, Imran objected to the matter and appealed to the Supreme Court which granted him stay order. Durrani in this matter remarked that Saad Rafique was given all the opportunities to do what he wanted to.
Foreign faux pas
PM Khan’s government has been in embarrassing situations twice since they came into power. Once when the Prime Minister received a call from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to congratulate him. A readout issued by the State Department said that Pompeo urged PM to take action against terror camps inside Pakistan, a claim the Foreign Office denied. The office also demanded the State Department to retract their statements. However, US shared transcript of the conversation to reinforce that discussion on this matter occurred negating Pakistan’s claim. Durrani shunned this saying that “we don’t endorse that transcript.”
The second incident occurred over the misinterpretation of the congratulatory letter received from Indian PM Modi. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who received the letter, said that Modi has offered the resumption of comprehensive dialogue. However, this was denied by India when the government there shared the contents of the letter with their media. As a result, the Foreign Office had to take back its statements.