It has just been over ten days since Imran Khan accomplished, what he had set out to do twenty two years ago. Now that he has become the Prime Minister of Pakistan, he can implement his road map to recover stolen money, reestablish lost prestige and rebuild shattered hopes. It is the same road map that motivated politically savvy ‘pathans’ of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to reelect his party for the second year running. Those, who do not know this hardy race of people as well as I do (for in spite of being from Lahore, I have learnt to speak their language and have read their literature just for the love of it), the people of KPK have always judged their governments on issues and delivery and elected or rejected them on performance in these areas. Re-election of PTI and in better numbers than their previous tenure is a definitive indicator that they must have done well in both areas.
It was a few days before the general election that I decided to travel around KPK and see things for myself before attempting to lavish praise upon what PTI had accomplished there. I found very little evidence of grand flyovers, fancy buildings and mass transit systems, but the people I spoke to – daily wage earners, traders, businessmen, teachers, bus drivers, housewives, police and government servants, all appeared satisfied with the changes in varying degrees. Interestingly enough, there was no hesitation in acknowledging that police enforcement had become effective and courteous, the land revenue system had unbelievably become corruption free and people-friendly, there was speedy justice down to the level of consumer courts (which for me was something new) and there was visible change in the standards of government schools. I came across some hostile criticism stemming from people, politically loyal to parties opposed to PTI, but when seen in the overall context, this hostility was like a drop in the ocean.
Two days of watching television has convinced me that Pakistani media is neither mature nor in complete possession of their wits. Just two weeks into office, they have begun to target the Prime Minister on petty issues which are in fact not issues in the real sense. The fact that he was using a helicopter for the four minute flight from the Red Zone to Banigala was blown out of proportion, when numbers indicated that the short aerial trip was far more economical than moving a motorcade of a dozen vehicles, deploying a route that disrupted traffic causing public outrage and expenditure on other measures connected with VVIP movement. Then the Pakpattan incident was amplified to an extent that the Apex Court had to take notice to put controversy to rest. As if bigger news were of no consequence, television channels continued to discuss both the helicopter and the Pakpattan stories in talk shows even when these events became insignificant ceasing to be news.
We heard some good news too this week. Like the first drop of rain on parched earth, Mr. Babar Awan, the PM’s Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs tendered his resignation in view of a National Accountability Reference filed against in the Nandipur Power Project case. The news was refreshingly unbelievable since Pakistani politicians and public office holders have a history of clinging to their portfolios in spite of court cases against them. I must laud Mr. Babar for his act of moral courage and manifesting the first signs of change under PTI dispensation. The gentleman has set a precedence that needs to be emulated. Well done Babar Sahib.
The disintegration of PML N continues unabated as the magic figure of twelve renegades continues to haunt the party. Mr. Hamza Sharif half-heartedly blamed the government, while a PML N legislator was more forthright and realistic in condemning his own party members in deliberately casting votes that would later be rejected during the count. The question everyone is now asking is whether these twelve individuals are the advance group of the rebellion that is fomenting inside the party.
Politicians in Pakistan are passing sleepless nights and stressful days. And while all this is happening, Imran Khan is resolutely moving ahead on his road map, hopefully with the full realisation that his failure would be the last straw for the country and the enemies of Pakistan will do all they can to obstruct him at every step. The people expect him to ruthlessly kick aside all obstacles in his path and keep moving onwards towards a prosperous and strong Pakistan.
The writer is a freelance columnist.