The first 100 days of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government have ended amid much scrutiny at the hands of people on both social and mainstream media.
From facing a furious opposition in the parliament launching tirade after tirade against the government to financial bailouts from friendly countries, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) protests and the premier defending his flip-flops; the first three months have seen it all.
Inheriting an economy claimed to be at the verge of a meltdown owing to the “policies” of the outgoing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, the PTI strove relentlessly to deal with the crisis.
The bailout package to be procured from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was initially rumoured to be $12 billion, was averted. Instead, the Imran Khan administration reached out to friendly countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through various diplomatic exchanges, far-sighted trade agreements and strengthening ties.
An Economic Advisory Council (EAC) was formed that helped craft policies that have put the Pakistani economy on the road to recovery such as the subsidizing of gas to the textile industry that has led to a reopening of 100 textile mills.
However, the government faced a great deal of criticism for flip-flopping of its promise of “never seeking donations” to run the country.
The continuous law and order disruption by Tehreek-e-Labbaik was handled well by the Khan administration. While the handling of Aasia Bibi verdict’s upheaval was initially criticised by opportunist intellectual groups, the logic behind the amicable resolution was obvious in the days that followed.
Several journalists lauded the government while stating that they couldn’t believe living in a Pakistan where “Khadim Rizvi was arrested and Aasia was free”.
The calm, however, was marred by the foiled terror attack on the Chinese consulate, the tragic suicide bombing in Hangu and the murder of Peshawar Rural SP Tahir Dawar in Afghanistan following his abduction from the federal capital Islamabad.
The government’s anti-encroachment drive also met success by retrieving hundreds of thousands of acres of illegally occupied land.
The delay in the formation of committees of the National Assembly (NA) has almost made the parliament non-functional.
NA Speaker Asad Qaiser, who has been struggling to run the House smoothly, is on a tightrope because of the ongoing tussle between the PTI and the opposition parties over the issue of the chairmanship of all-powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
He has stopped the process of the formation of parliamentary committees due to the opposition’s threat to boycott all panels if the ruling party does not offer PAC chairmanship to Opposition Leader and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif as per “parliamentary traditions”.
Due to having no legislative work to do, almost all previous sittings of the Lower House of Parliament witnessed debates and speeches on petty matters with members continuing their corruption tirade against each other, causing uproars and even scuffles that resulted into a ban on the entry of Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry to the Upper House by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani due to the former’s refusal to tender an apology for making “personal attacks” on opposition leaders on the floor of the parliament.
Comparing himself with Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that he is smarter than the Nazi and Fascist leaders.
Khan’s statement came after he was criticised for constant U-turns on several issues.
“One who doesn’t take decisions according to the demand of the situation is not a true leader,” the premier had said while defending the following list of his flip-flops since after assuming charge of the country’s prime minister.
Atif Mian: The Imran Khan-led government had included Atif Mian in the Economic Advisory Council, however, after facing a backlash for religious reasons – Mian belonging to the minority Ahmadi community – the government backed off and he was shown the door.
Sheikh Rasheed: PM Khan had an altogether different opinion about Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed and had affirmed that he would not even employ him as a “sweeper”. Even before winning the polls, Rasheed had assumed a central role in Imran Khan’s political advisers and when in power, he was handed the reins of Pakistan Railways owing to the “faith” the PM had in him.
Jahangir Khan Tareen: The PTI chief changed his stance on Jahangir Tareen’s role and once had confirmed that whoever is disqualified by the Supreme Court would go home. However, even after his disqualification by the apex court, Tareen calls the shots in PTI and has stirred controversies for allegedly attending meetings of the federal cabinet.
Pervez Elahi: The former chief minister of Punjab Pervaiz Elahi had never been in PM Khan’s good books and was branded as the “biggest dacoit of Punjab”. The same “dacoit” won the election for the slot of Punjab Assembly speaker with the overwhelming support of PTI.
The PTI’s first 100 days in government were also marred by controversies regarding political influence in matters of police as well as the bureaucracy even though the premier, before his election as the country’s chief executive, had boasted the apolitical administrative affairs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) where his party had completed its five-year tenure.
Pakpattan DPO: The District Police Officer (DPO) of Pakpattan, Rizwan Gondal, was allegedly transferred for stopping Khawar Maneka, the former husband of Bushra Maneka, at a police check post. Maneka, a senior official of the Customs Department, used abusive language when police officials tried to stop him at a picket.
Later, DPO Rizwan Gondal was asked to apologise to Maneka at his home which he refused, saying the police officials present on the occasion did not commit any crime.
On October 3, an inquiry report of the matter was submitted before the Supreme Court endorsing that Gondal was transferred on the basis of political intervention. It further added that orders for the transfer of the police officer in the middle of the night came from the chief minister’s office whereas the then IGP had acted as a rubber stamp.
Although the country has managed to reinforce relations with its close allies like China and Saudi Arabia, it broke new ground with PM Khan’s visit to Malaysia.
However, its dealing with the US was full of highs and lows.
The US administration, internally struggling on various political fronts was coerced into backtracking on several occasions into recognising Pakistan’s efforts for regional stability.
The bailout from China was also met with hostile statements from the US administration, who decried Pakistan’s deepening dependence on financing by China.
Pakistan responded with the rhetoric of the US’s need to review its own Chinese debts which ranges far more than it has on Pakistan.
Khan-Trump spat: The 100 days of the PTI also witnessed a “never seen before” row between a Pakistani premier and a US president.
Donald Trump sparked off a Twitter spat with PM Khan after he reiterated allegations regarding Pakistan “not doing anything” for the US.
….We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2018
Minutes after Trump’s tweets, the premier took to the microblogging site and described the former’s false assertions as “adding insult to the injury”.
“Trump’s false assertions add insult to the injury Pakistan has suffered in the US war on terror in terms of lives lost and destabilised and economic costs,” Khan wrote. “He [Trump] needs to be informed about historical facts. Pakistan has suffered enough fighting US’s war. Now we will do what is best for our people and our interests,” he added.
Trump’s false assertions add insult to the injury Pak has suffered in US WoT in terms of lives lost & destabilised & economic costs. He needs to be informed abt historical facts. Pak has suffered enough fighting US’s war. Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 19, 2018
India: Soon after being elected as the prime minister, Khan said he was sad that the Indian media had made him out to be a “Bollywood film villain” and he was probably the only Pakistani most familiar with India because of cricket.
If India-Pakistan ties could improve, that would benefit all, he said and highlighted his desire to improve trade and commercial ties to benefit both countries and reduce poverty. He also, expectedly, said that Kashmir is the core issue and that he was ready to take “two steps” forward to improve ties.
The first 100 days also witnessed Indian politician and an old friend of PM Khan, Navjot Sindh Sidhu, visiting the premier’s oath-taking ceremony and sharing the desire of his people to see the ties between the two neighbouring countries evolve.
New Delhi also accepted an Islamabad offer about building a new border crossing and road connecting their respective Punjab provinces, making it easier for Sikh pilgrims to visit the religious site in Pakistan and opening a door to end bitter Pakistan-India ties.
The Indian move came nearly three months after Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had offered to open the route to facilitate Sikh pilgrims. The COAS told Indian cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu at the inauguration of Prime Minister Imran on August 18 that Pakistan was ready to open the route to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur for Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary.
India’s response to the invitation along with its decision to open the border is being seen as a much-needed thaw in the frosty ties that are marred by cross-border firing, accusations of terror sponsorship among others.