I remember, bitterly opposing Member of National Assembly (MNA) Abid Raza, when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentary board had approved the ticket for the convicted murderer from Kotla to contest in the July 2018 general elections from National Assembly constituency NA-71. Raza faced allegations over his links with banned outfits and media highlighted multiple-murder accusations against him in the run-up to the 2018 elections campaign.

To his credit, though, he overwhelmingly thwarted the network of thugs, land grabbers, groups running usury businesses, and never supported the guilty parties in cases pertaining to murder and other land-related quarrels within his constituency.

Now comes the new Pakistan, with Khan at his helm marching with a loud slogan to transform this nation into Riasat-e-Madina. Abid Raza held his seat after a recount drama on election night. What happened afterward is worrisome for anyone hopeful of much-publicized promise of change. 

Abid could no longer influence the police – after PTI succeeded to lure PML-Q and formed a government in all important province; Punjab. Having seen establishment backed Chaudhary’s taking control of the district Gujrat, PTI candidate—who was already a close ally of Chaudhary’s allegedly re-established the missing link with land-grabbers and usury mafias.

During PML-N’s tenure, Abid Raza had categorically and ruthlessly challenged the land grabbers against any wrongdoing. Despite allegedly having the reputation of Hamza’s front man for such activities, he confronted the crooks and goons and kept them at bay. He restored his reputation and had a clean era—with no such claims against his name. Naya Pakistan ironically has witnessed the return to old-days and some cases as has been the case in NA-71, worse than before.

PTI’s big dreams of change have, thus far, failed to translate at a lower level. The police reforms in Punjab remain in limbo and political intervention remains the norm. Khan’s decision to allow the established crooks to contest on PTI ticket may have given him a feeble/weaker government in the center and Punjab, but underlying problems continue to tarnish the social fabric of the society.

Meanwhile, the PTI’s incumbent government continues to face media backlash over its lackluster performance. Earlier, a vigorous vendetta against Khan from opposition ranks reflected in their frustration of being denied another status quo term. The way Khan bowed down in front of the IMF and allowed Hafeez Sheikh to control the economy single-handedly does not present a pretty picture.

Critics bash Khan’s government for following the trends of the past regimes. PTI is accused of all sorts of ordeals facing Pakistan’s public. PML-N, voraciously denies that it played any significant part in harboring the crises which eventually spiral out of control largely due to PTI’s inexperience and lackluster start to its first government in the center.

A section of political pundits/critics is in favor of allowing PTI some respite as it still needs time to deserve a comment on its performance. Nevertheless, every decision of the party is scrutinized quite aptly.

Media questioned PTI’s lack of leadership and unconvincing performance which acutely deviated from its tall-claims before and after July 25 elections. Justice system within PTI has also questioned as PTI failed to initiate internal inquiry against illegal actions of Azam Swati and reappointed him as a minister. The bizarre list of cases involving DPO Pakpattan, IG Islamabad, and Sahiwal incident are classic examples which reflect PTI’s epic failure in governance.

PTI performance is rightly scrutinized as the party appears to be choking under pressure. In testing circumstances, the party has failed to deliver on his pre-poll pledges particularly on governance, reforms and on the economic front. Khan, nevertheless, remain adamant and firm to deliver soon.  

Going forward, IK will face more scrutiny as powerful groups in opposition and bureaucracy looks determined to thwart the reform package government intends to implement. Khan’s position will remain precarious until it does not deliver on the economic front to appease masses facing the brunt of horrible economic decisions of current and previous regimes. Khan’s economic victory remains key to the positive outcome of his first innings as a premier.

Positive feedback/reaction is not in sight. Economic upheavals remain a daunting task for the incumbent government. A string of attacks against the party would start if it fails to materialize or even start a mega reform agenda.

The pressure on the government to deliver is its own making. Hopes are yet to crash down among PTI clan. The public is increasingly getting frustrated as the dollar continues to soar and inflation is taking its toll. Some still believe that Khan should be allowed ample time considering other parties enjoyed lengthy spells in the government. Moreover, transforming the fortunes remains an uphill battle— as economic fortunes declined in last year or so. The rebuilding process would take some time and patience in Khan’s future endeavors remains only realistic choice in given acrimonious situation facing this reprieved yet resourceful country.