- And a lame excuse
While addressing cabinet members Prime Minister Imran Khan complained that he did not receive an extensive briefing like the one being provided to US President-elect Joe Biden. He confessed that it took him three months to understand things. He maintained that there were so many figures, particularly in the power sector, that for 18 months they could not decide which ones were correct. He insisted that every minister needed briefing prior to his being sworn in. Surely Mr Khan knew before coming to power that Pakistan did not practice the presidential system. He also knew that while in Britain the opposition leader is considered the PM-in-waiting and provided briefing on important national issues, in Pakistan he is treated altogether differently. This leads one to ask if the PM is looking for excuses and scapegoats for his government’s lamentable performance?
Long before the elections Mr Khan showed impatience to come to power. Throughout the Islamabad sit-in Mr Khan was unhappy over the umpire’s delay in raising the finger. He repeatedly assured everyone that he had prepared a team over the years which would hit the ground running once in office, as the PTI had conducted exhaustive research on all national issues. When 10 million jobs and five million homes were promised, many thought that the PTI’s whizkids had already done work on that. As Mr Khan announced his Cabinet, it became clear to many that the PTI had neither a well-trained team of its own nor any well-researched economic policy. The U-turn over foreign loans, the recourse to the IMF and the flip flop on the CPEC corroborated the conclusion.
Mr Khan says he virtually had no time to prepare before assuming office and the first three months were spent understanding the state of affairs. This might be true in his case or that of a handful of PTI’s core members in the cabinet. Over half a dozen of his ministers holding key portfolios had however served under several other ruling parties and were insiders, but lacked competence. It is not the first time that Mr Kan has promised to check Cabinet members’ performance. The ministers know that numerical compulsions do not allow Mr Khan to fire anyone. There is therefore little chance of improvement in their working even after signing the performance agreements.