PTI’s U-turns of the year


Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that a leader who does not take “U-turns” according to requirements of the situation is not a real leader. In light of his statement, here are the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s top U-turns throughout the year.

Atif Mian’s removal from Economic Advisory Council 

Atif Mian was included in the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan to help manage the crippling economic crisis. However, calls to have him sacked grew louder once it was revealed that he belonged to the minority Ahmadiyya community.

Despite earlier claims by the government that it would not succumb to the pressure of ‘extremists’, noted economist Atif R Mian was ordered to step down from his advisory role in the EAC.

Government concedes PAC’s chairmanship to Shehbaz 

The government decided to backtrack from its earlier stance and agreed to let National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif have the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

After a period of two months, the development was welcome as the House had been rendered useless after the government and opposition had reached an impasse over the formation of parliamentary committees, especially the PAC.

‘Dacoit’ Elahi becomes Speaker 

Former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi had hardly ever been in the good books of PM Imran. In 2002, a complaint against Elahi was filed by Imran Khan in the national treasury on which the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) launched an inquiry.

In a speech, he had also referred to Elahi as the “biggest dacoit of Punjab” and said in reference to him that “the way these politicians flouted the rules and did corruption, you would see a drama unfold in coming days”. The same “dacoit” won the election for the slot of Punjab Assembly speaker with the overwhelming support of PTI.

Newfound ‘faith’ in Sheikh Rashid 

PM Khan had an altogether different opinion about Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid and had affirmed that he would not even employ him as a “sweeper”. Even before winning the polls, Rashid 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.

Citizenship for Pakistani-born Afghanis and Bengalis

PM Khan had 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. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Media Iftikhar 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.

To seek or not to seek: IMF loan 

Despite criticising former governments for seeking monetary packages from the International Monetary Fund, the PTI government has been in talks with the IMF since October, and has formally requested Islamabad’s 13th bailout since the late 1980’s to help settle the economy while the new government of Khan, who came to power in July, struggles to implement reforms.

Meanwhile, they have also turned to ‘friendly countries’ such as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to cope. Finance Minister Asad Umar has said that Pakistan is in no rush to strike a deal with IMF to deal with its balance-of-payments crisis.