Pakistan is one of those unfortunate countries where the rulers, both civilians and military dictators, have been duping the masses and taking them for a ride with impunity over the last seventy years. Their aim invariably has been grabbing power and building their fortunes as well as of those who helped them to perpetuate the archaic and anti-people system of governance to protect their vested interests. They have all contributed in varying degrees to push the country to the ebb of a precipice and share the responsibility for the current challenges confronting the country including the existentialist threat posed by religious extremism and terrorism.

The web of deception employed to seek the franchise and support of the people has invariably been promising the moon to them without ever unravelling how they contemplated to do it and what were the resources at their command to achieve that objective. They all have been focusing on prestige projects for achieving their narrow and ephemeral political ends rather than adopting a nationalist approach for changing the economic situation of the teeming millions through realistic and visionary strategies. They have been conceiving and initiating those projects without caring to muster the required financial resources for their implementation beforehand. Their politically motivated approach divorced from the economic realities has been the bane of our socio-economic development.

The PTI government which promised change and departure from the unenviable past seems to have taken the same course and in certain respects has excelled the previous governments in making false and unrealistic pledges to the masses. Take for example the pledge to build five million houses and creation of 10 million jobs. Both these announced initiatives are totally out of synch with the economic realities of the country. According to the task force for the construction of these houses the venture will require Rs.16 trillion to be implemented. That is an astronomical amount and the economy simply cannot afford to defray those expenses. The current account deficit and the budgetary deficit are still on the higher side. Inflation has touched 9.6% threshold which according to Pakistan Bureau of statistic is the highest during the last five years. According to a briefing given by the FBR to the ministry of Finance it is going to miss the revenue collection target by Rs 434.25 billion.

Future predictions about the economy are also very dismal. ADB has predicted 3.9 % GDP growth rate of Pakistan during 2019 which will go down further to 3.6% in 2020. The World Bank and IMF have also given similar assessments in their latest reports. Renowned economists of the country including Dr. Ashfaque Khan believe that under the prevailing economic environment the youth will not be able to find jobs and the government will not be successful in building five million houses. Creation of jobs is dependent and linked to sustained increase in the GDP growth rate and expansion of the economy. In an environment when the economy is faced with reduction in the size of the economy both claims of the government are nothing but ill-conceived and politically motivated initiatives. The government has also announced a number of other initiatives which also require huge amounts for their implementation and it has not indicated from where it will muster the resources to affect their implementation. As is evident giving false and unrealistic hopes to people continues to be a preferred option. So where is the change that was promised?

People are surely worse off than before. That hopes for betterment in their economic situation promised to the masses before elections have been dashed to the ground as they are groaning under the weight of hydra-headed inflation and the increase in the prices of utilities like gas and electricity. When the PTI was in the opposition it used to criticize the PML (N) government for effecting increase in the utility prices dubbing it as anti-people initiatives. Granted that the economic situation and accompanying compulsions do justify those enhancements but the question is was the PTI not aware of these realities when it was in the opposition? Why it made false promises with the people?

The truth is that Imran Khan is no more a revolutionary that barged on the political horizon of the country on 30th October 2011. He can be rightly called a traditional power grabber who made innumerable compromises on his pledges made during that historic public rally and the myriad of u-turns that he has taken to ensure his access to the corridors of power. In the hind sight his address at the public rally at Lahore represented demagoguery at its best. People are still wondering what happened to his commitment of having the SHOs directly elected on the pattern of Sheriffs in the western countries to change the ‘thana culture’?

Imran has not even stood by the promises that he made as a compromised political leader. The pledges to form South Punjab as a separate province within one month, immediately giving the country a local government system in conformity with article 140 A of the constitution and ensuring uniform curricula for educational institutions throughout the country remain as elusive as ever. The good governance that he has been preaching from the container is nowhere to be seen. What actually is happening is the perpetuation of the same old political culture of entitlement and graft. The accountability process also smacks of political witch-hunt and mala fide intentions as has been observed by the Lahore High Court while granting bails to the accused in Ashiana Housing and Saaf Pani Company cases including Shahbaz Sharif.

What can one expect from a leader who says that taking u-turns is the hall mark of great leaders? Would that somebody tell him that there is social slur of ‘ Nagallah’ (double-tongued) in Punjabi for a person who shifts his positions without any moral qualms. I think he also needs to shun his impulsiveness in expressing his opinion on national and political issues to avoid creating embarrassing situations for himself, his party and the government. It would fill volumes if one tries to enumerate those indiscretions committed by him. Perhaps the latest one merits being mentioned. When the leaders of GDA in a meeting with him demanded changing the name of BISP, he immediately responded by saying it is changed. But when the PPP and other political circles reacted sharply to this impulsiveness, the government had to retract and later it was decided in the cabinet meeting that the name will not be changed. Why in the first place he did it and why somebody did not tell him about the implications involved? The country cannot be run through impulsiveness and irrational decisions. It is a different ball game than managing a cricket team.