ISLAMABAD - Although the PML-N government largely fell short on the promises it made with the people during its elections campaign, its plus points outnumber the negatives, particularly because of the strong and concerted efforts it made to move the staggering economy in the right direction.
On the downside, the government seems continuing with the old practice of undermining the Parliament and showing apathy toward vital issues like appointment of Chairman NAB, Chief Election Commissioner, undue delay in making the National Assembly Standing Committees functional and installation of a Cabinet in Balochistan would have a negative bearing on its overall performance.
Some political and defence analysts liken the government’s decision to try Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 to opening a Pandora’s box that would shift focus from the priorities it has set.
On political front, Mian Nawaz Sharif and his team have shown sagacity by not trying to grab power in province where the PML-N did not have the majority. They exercise restraint despite temptation from other political players including Maulana Fazlur Rehman to form government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and let the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf form a coalition government there.
Similarly, despite being the largest Parliamentary group in Balochistan, Nawaz Sharif let other nationalist Parliamentary groups-Balochistan National Party and Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party—- have both the coveted slots of Chief Minister and Governor.
Though the government is facing difficulty in forming Cabinet in Balochistan, PML-N insiders state that things are finalised and the new Council of Ministers will be in place in the next few days.
It is the politics of reconciliation and respect to the mandate of other political players in the national arena that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif refrained to be part of the move to topple the AJK government led by PPP.
If the AJK government in intact today it is due to Nawaz Sharif, who had strictly directed his party men in AJK Legislative Assembly to stay from the no-trust move against the AJK PM.
Putting his weight behind the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah to bring normalcy in the restive port city of Karachi is another feather in the cap of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which clearly depicted his respect for the mandate of the political parties in their respective domain.
He had made Sindh Chief Minister leader of the ongoing targeted action against the miscreants in Karachi and at the same time took all political players in the province on board.
The All Parties Conference organised by the government is another major achievement and the unanimous decision to give peace a chance by engaging Taliban in dialogue to seek a negotiated settlement of the imbroglio is a step in the right direction. Now, in case of failure of dialogue the government would go all out to hunt the miscreants down and the whole nation would be standing with them in this pursuit.
On economic front the major problem facing the people was the unbearable loadshedding and to a great extent the PML-N team has successfully contained the problem. The circular debt was cleared and now the power wizards of the government are focusing on sprucing up the administration of the power sector and hopefully things would improve in the times ahead.
As for loadshedding, the Prime Minister, in his maiden address to the nation after assuming office, made it clear that power shortages would be brought under control by the end of government’s tenure, something different from what the PML-N leaders have been stating during the election campaign.
Though there was no formal word on the foreign policy of the PML-N government, by going through the statements of party leaders one could assess its broader contours, which show a desire to have friendly relations with all the neighbours including India and Afghanistan. But on ground the foreign policy would hardly see any paradigm shift, particularly in the given circumstances when NATO forces are planning to start pulling out of Afghanistan from next year.
However, the strong position taken by Nawaz Sharif government on unabated drone attacks inside Pakistani territory may leave some negative impact on the Pak-US relations. To ward off the expected US pressure on the issue, the Prime Minister has called a meeting of heads of all major political parties next week to come up with a unified stand.
On the other hand, the critics of the PML-N government state that Nawaz Sharif is backing out from all promises he made to the people during the election campaign.
They state that those who were talking about breaking the begging bowl could hardly resist taking loan from IMF and that too on very tough terms.
They further said that imposition of direct and indirect taxes in the Budget 2013-14 has brought the storm of price-hike and made the living of middle and poor classes extremely difficult.
The Minister has already indicated that as per IMF conditionalities the government would further cut the subsidy on electricity, which would jack up the tariff even higher to the disadvantage of already hard-pressed people.
Economic experts state that in the budget the government had put burden on those who are already paying taxes and no measures were taken to broaden the tax net. The traders and business classes were deliberately given a freehand and no measures were proposed to bring non-tax paying classes into the tax net.
Political and defence analysts say the government decision to proceed against former military dictator Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 would put the government on confrontational course with the military and things could go worse. They said that instead of opening the Pandora’s box of Article 6, the government should have focused its energies on improving the living standard of the people and bring about reforms in national economy to put the country on road to progress.
Some senior members of the ruling party said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is a changed man and he is in no mood to spare anyone for his follies. He has written to his Cabinet colleagues and senior bureaucrats that he would not tolerate mal-administration and corrupt practices in any Ministry or department.
He has also given a three-month target to his Cabinet colleagues and frankly told them in the inaugural Cabinet meeting that those who failed to perform in this period would lose their portfolios.
In his maiden speech on the floor of the National Assembly,Nawaz Sharif said he would not sit idle and would not let any of his party members and Cabinet colleagues do so.
In first 100 days in power the PML-N government has managed to bring in their man as President of Pakistan. During the next 100 days some other major changes would take place as a new Army Chief and a new Chief Justice of Pakistan would be appointed.