This week’s piece begins on a somber note on the passing of the former First Lady Mrs. Kulsoom Nawaz. I may have levied brutal criticism on Mr. Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, but in all fairness found no fault in the amazing lady, who was my sister’s junior in Lahore College for Women. Mrs. Kulsoom epitomized family values, dignity and above all unrelenting fortitude, as her spouse and children were judged and held accountable for what they had done. I pray that the departed soul finds eternal peace in her afterlife. Amen.

Defying reason and common sense, the leading lights of the so called Opposition led by PML N, have embarked upon a campaign that undermines the ongoing collection of funds for Bhasha, Diamer and Mohmand Dams. In their blind oppositionto the new government, amplified by the shock of a comprehensive defeat in the recently held elections, former PML N Ministers are putting forth insane arguments against the initiative launched by the Chief Justice of Pakistan and augmented by the PM. These politicians have perhaps become so used to eulogizing motorways, flyovers, interchanges, metros and the Orange Line that they have lost sight of the real and present danger that Pakistan faces within the next decade – drought. One ex minister has publicly said that asking Pakistanis to donate money for building dams is akin to seeking charity (or words to that effect). Another gentleman and ex portfolio holder has stated that these projects cannot be built without foreign assistance and loans. In their blind pursuit of animosity with everyone else, but themselves, these individuals overlooked the fact that asking the nation to contribute for their future does not, by any definition, fall under the category of ‘charity’. On the contrary, it is a manifestation of self-reliance and pride. Those who have donated funds, will forever consider themselves partners in a great accomplishment – an edifice that is witness to their greatness as a nation.

Hostile critics conveniently tend to forget that it was the PML N government that once appealed for funds under the ‘Qarz Utaro Mulk Savaro’ scheme. How much of what was collected went to servicing debt is something that may one day require an audit. The current appeal to finance construction of water storage and hydel power generation comes from quarters that have credibility and the surging response is reflective of the trust, donors have that their money will be used transparently for the purpose it has been given.

Nations are built on hope that breeds the will to deliver. Our hope lies in a government led by someone, who never backs down in the face of adversity. A government, whose lack of experience (as often expressed by hostile critics) creates out of the box thinking, desperately needed to jolt Pakistan out of its present situation. Critics might say that the recent removal of a world renowned economist nominated as advisor, followed by two more resignations from the Economic Advisory Group are a sign of faulty decision making and ‘backing down’. Many in Pakistan view this as an act of moral courage and acceptance that mistakes can be made and corrected - a trait that heralds a breath of fresh air, honesty of purpose and hope.

Imran Khan has to understand that Pakistanis everywhere will closely monitor his every move. He will be under tremendous pressure to deliver, what he has been promising during his election campaign and he will be sorely criticized every step of the way. PTI was voted into power because people were sick of what cyclic rule and dynastic politics had done to their daily lives. It must however be remembered that delivery by the government cannot be one sided and a lot will rest on the people of Pakistan, while the government takes unpopular decisions. A serious illness warrants painful treatment and this reality will need to be understood by everyone. Success will come with a combination of courageous out of the box decision making coupled with patience, tolerance and faith demonstrated by the people. A day will indeed come, when we will be respected globally as a nation that pulled itself out of the abyss by using its inherent strength and no foreign loans.

 

n            The writer is a freelance columnist.