Ever since he established his political party, and even more so after the massively successful congregation in October 2011 in Lahore, Imran Khan has been tendering the syrupiest political poetry to the ears of the nation. Establishing the Islamic welfare state –in line with seventh century Muslim state of Madinah, eradication of corruption to the roots, strengthening the national institutions, levitating the esteem of the country in comity of nations, promising the economic stability and diverting the other national fault lines are a few cadenced chefs-d’oeuvre that he has been offering. Triggering a change, supposedly positive one, in social outlook, eliminating religious extremism, dismissing political involvement in bureaucracy, and anchoring a vibrant local bodies system that could cater the needs of the public at their doorstep have been his favourite political anaphora.

While this government has completed its hundred days, the poetry is gradually turning into a gawky prose. It is true that previous government has bequeathed an extremely shambolic economy with a lot of circular debt and despondently poor balance of payments. The economic advisors of PTI must have known that foreign exchange reserves of the country have dipped precariously deep, trade-deficit had had a kind of free fall and macroeconomic balance has gone to an unfavorable disequilibrium. With such a state of economy, Imran Khan has been promising that he will not go to the IMF for bailout package. Nor will he ever outspread his hand to beg loan from any quarter. Having cognizance of the economic state of the affairs, it was never advisable to make such tall promises. Within first hundred days, he had to visit traditional destinations of loan seeking like Saudi Arabia, China, and UAE. He promised to take the nation on board on the matters of loans and debts, yet the terms and conditions on which this money is borrowed are still unknown even to the cabinet. Walking on the well-trodden pathway, this government is aiming on the short-term bailout instead of envisioning long-term sustainable economic policies: seeking loans instead of trade. Foreign financial help cannot be termed as diplomatic triumph nor can it resolve the country’s deep-rooted financial problems. It takes vision and capacity rather than rhetoric and patchwork to bring the economy back to its feet.

The most unpleasant defeat faced by this government was, however, on the religious front. PTI has been decreeing to ensure religious tolerance and equality before law for all the Pakistanis regardless of their religious creeds. This was precisely the most striking feature of the Islamic state of Madinah founded by the Holy Prophet in seventh century Arabia. He came up with the written agreement of peaceful co-existence with all the communities already living in Yathrab. But here in ‘Naya Pakistan’ a faction of religious cult has practically held the country hostage for three long days. They have been blocking the roads, burning cars, damaging public property and exploding the abusive tirade against national institutions over a decision of the highest judicial forum of the country. But the government, during these three days, instead of showing some spine remained recoiled to the comfortable retreat. Such an indolent response to the religious fanaticism and zealotry can set an unholy precedent of blackmailing the state by a few individuals armed with unsacred sentimentalism.

The dream of ending the political involvement in bureaucracy is also as distant as ever. Arbitrary transfers and postings of as high offices as Inspectors General of Police, Chief Secretaries, Federal Secretaries and Deputy Commissioners purely on whims of political stakeholders have been made. No significant step has been taken for promised police reforms. Bureaucracy, especially competent but poorly connected officers, are in search of new political support to get coveted postings. Such arbitrariness has virtually halted the government machinery except whiling away the mundane day to day business with no nerves to take initiative for better public service delivery.

Promised new province in South Punjab is also not in sight. A twelve-member special executive council was constituted to pave the way for the creation of new province in South Punjab. How honest and substantial the promise of creating a new province has been can be seen through the vigor this council is working with: it has met only once. This is a very ordinary response to an extremely delicate and extraordinary political, administrative, cultural and linguistic matter.

Imran Khan has been webbed in his own rhetoric. Since no other political party was expected to remain true to its words, expectations from PTI were high. Crooning high claims during political campaigns is one thing and having the capacity to accomplish them is quite another. It is true that no reasonable verdict can be passed about the performance of the present government only after its hundred days in the office. But it is also true that no substantial steps defining even the direction towards promised new Pakistan have been taken. The moon for promised new Pakistan is not in sight yet.

 

The writer is a Civil Servant.