PTI in crisis

  • Mere talk and no action is not helping

Almost six months into power and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government seems to be struggling with one crisis or another. Economic turbulence aside, after successfully sailing through the Tehreek-e-Labbaik protests against Asia bibi’s verdict, another domestic crisis has emerged and that is of another police encounter – something almost all of the political parties have experienced in the past governments.

We saw the model town carnage under Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and then the extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud at the hands of ‘encounter specialist’ Rao Anwar during Pakistan People’s Party’s government in Sindh. This time it was the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) who killed four innocent people in Sahiwal, terming them as ‘terrorists’.

The line is thin when it comes to differentiating between civilians and terrorists. The definition of terrorism under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) in Pakistan is unfortunately too broad that any act of violence, coercion or facilitating that act could be termed as terrorism. In that case, what CTD did in Sahiwal was also terrorism. Call it state terrorism, police encounter, extra-judicial killing or something else, the fact is that four innocent people lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement officials. The recent history of Pakistan is scarred with such incidents. Irony is that not even one responsible was held accountable for these offences.

With the PTI in power, people had expected a different kind of leadership that would have its reform agenda ready to bring the necessary change it had promised in the country. The police reforms introduced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa earlier by the PTI were sought for Punjab as well. Like all other things, a Commission on Police Reforms and Implementation was also formed but it soon became dysfunctional after former KP IGP Nasir Khan Durrani resigned as head of the commission.

One after another, the PTI government is being met with several crises. It’s not that they had not expected such turmoil. Governing a politically, economically and socially unstable country like Pakistan is not easy and the PTI still seems unprepared to deal with the multitude of problems facing the country. The unwanted incident last week that resulted in the killing of four people, including two women, and the traumatised children that survived, the PTI won’t be able to get through with it easily.

Seems it will not be long before people lose their patience and want a new government instead of a Naya Pakistan. The increased taxes and duties, resulting in inflation, are not helping either. The constant devaluation of rupee is also worrying

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was too lazy to act on the incident and instead kept ‘waiting for a call from the prime minister’ and when he finally showed up, it was not very encouraging as he only presented flowers to the aggrieved, injured children. The mighty compensation of Rs20 million would also not be enough to bury the incident.

Instead of the interior minister (who is missing in this government) or the law minister, the outspoken federal and provincial information ministers were seen giving initial statements that made little sense with respect to the gravity of the incident. The statements of Fawad Chaudhry and Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan do little to pacify the country. This is not new as they still can’t get out of the opposition mode, we must get used to their language now as these two leaders lead the verbal course of the party’s politics.

The charisma of Prime Minister Imran Khan seems to be dying out as the country needs some concrete measures for relief instead of mere talk. Perhaps the PTI government is only adept at speaking and not doing. In that case, they better had not made all those tall promises before coming to power.

The government might be doing well at the external front, making successful visits getting aid and all from the Arabs, but it is failing internally. A country cannot rise among the comity of nations until it has its domestic issues sorted out. Like the preceding governments, the present government also needs to put its own house in order first. The tirade against the Sharifs and Zardaris is not going to help anymore. People don’t care whether those corrupt are behind the bars or not, all they care about is whether they are able to live with the basic necessities of life – is the state fulfilling its basic responsibility of securing fundamental rights of the citizens or not? Are the basic rights to life, education, health and others are being given the importance they demand? Certainly not.

Seems it will not be long before people lose their patience and want a new government instead of a Naya Pakistan. The increased taxes and duties, resulting in inflation, are not helping either. The constant devaluation of rupee is also worrying. The speeches on welfare state model remain to be speeches as little can be seen happening on practical footings.

Enough of the delusions and hopes, the country now needs delivery of the promises made. The PTI government needs to steer the country out of these crises; otherwise, just one Sahiwal incident is enough to damage its reputation.