Pakistan is going through a transitional phase. Many are of the view that post-election 2018 Pakistan would be a Naya Pakistan . Here question arises, would it really be a New Pakistan, or an old one with a cosmetic change? If so, then, what can be done to make a really New Pakistan? To answer those questions we need to ponder upon the nascent federal cabinet making and the subsequent speeches of the Prime Minister, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi. That would be analysing tools to predict the future outcomes. Comparing the speeches and selection of cabinet would make us understand whether the ideas are being practically applied or not. This article is based on constructive criticism which would benefit chalking out strategies that will help, the people at the helm of affairs, in decision making. For it is not intended to only criticise the PM, but to evaluate his, till today, decisions which will have everlasting impacts in the upcoming days. It also includes suggestions to rectify and correct the mistakes at this early stage.
As for as the post-election speeches of the PM are concerned, he has expressed his strong ambitions to change the existing state of affairs in the country. He has presented himself as a Messiah for the miserable and suffering people. He has created a new hope for the countrymen. Many are enchanting the slogans of new Pakistan. In other words, he has illustrated to revolutionise the whole structure. Although lacked thought through plans, strategies and policies, IK’s speeches were vocally good enough. His decision to reduce the unnecessary expenditures on the part of elected ministers is laudable, if applied across the board in its true essence, it would unequivocally prove magnificent for rebuilding our economy. Although we are optimistic, however, how the ideas would be implemented is yet to be seen.
Realistically speaking, till today, PM’s decisions are completely deviating from his utopian ideas. For example, his campaign pledges regarding induction of youth at each level in his government remains unaccomplished. When it was objected earlier that how a man can bring change with old or fractured politicians? It was justified by the PTI that it was just the way to reach the throne and after getting there everything will be ok! And no old guy would occupy any prestigious place in the New Pakistan, instead, it would be youth that hold sway over majority of the matters - we were told. However, it is very unfortunate that not a single young representative is included in the federal cabinet to give him/her an opportunity to serve the motherland. On the contrary, it seems the party mafia and the coalition parties, in other words the diluted politicians, have hijacked the Prime Minister’s decision making.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister has selected his team for a decisive match - New Pakistan. This reminded me of the political culture of that old Pakistan where dynastic rulers decided everything. Where the other party members were never taken into consideration. One man would decide everything and others would be forced to obey. As Thucydides asserted “the strong has to do what he can, the weak has to accept what he must.” The same has been witnessed in New Pakistan, the difference being that, this time it was Imran Khan who selected the persons for different slots and imposed his will on others.
The PM has constituted a cabinet comprising 16 ministers and 5 advisers. Some nominations are merit-based, others are politically manipulated. Ironically, the earlier enchanted slogan of “right person at the right place” was not given the proper place in the so called Naya Pakistan . Out of those selected for different portfolios, most of them have already served the nation during Musharraf’s reign. Also, seven ministers belong to coalition parties. It can be said that IK has preferred either their experience over qualification or was hijacked by mafias- whether of inside party or of coalition. For example, MQM’s Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui has been allotted the portfolio of information technology and telecommunication. It can be out rightly said that IK has been black-mailed by MQM. Because, Siddiqui is an illiterate as regards the information technology. This portfolio being the most important in this technological age must be given to such a person that holds an appropriate qualification. So, that a technological revolution may alter the fate of the depreciated country by uplifting its many facets.
Similarly, Dr Shireen Mazari who holds doctorate in defence and strategic studies has been given the charge of human rights, of which she has no experience. Whereas, IK has blessed, or forced to do so, Mr. Pervaiz Khatak by appointing him defence minister though he has never been to strategic studies. The only qualification Khatak holds for this post is that he is a close aide of Imran Khan. Mr. PM if you wish to really make a New Pakistan you need to make possible that the right person occupies the right place. Otherwise, the anticipated change would be cosmetic in its entirety.
It is pertinent to mention here that many important ministries are not yet decided and would be held by the PM- at least for the time being. For example, interior, power, ports and shipping, agriculture, and planning and reforms. It is very astonishing indeed that Imran Khan, who objected the government of Nawaz Sharif for not appointing foreign minister, has himself occupied many ministries. Is it a New Pakistan people were enthusiastic for? In my humble opinion it is even worse than the old one. So, Mr. PM, it is never too late to correct yourself. The people of Pakistan want a real change, not a cosmetic one. For that you need to change your intellect, decisions, direction and above all behaviour. Please revisit your decisions and decide keeping in view the qualifications not the friendships, cronyism and also do not get hijacked by coalition partners.
The PM has selected a renowned economist, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, as an adviser for institutional reforms and austerity. As regards the structural reforms in civil services and bureaucracy, the PM has indicated to formulate a special task force under the chairmanship of Dr. Ishrat Hussain. It should be appreciated because the long awaited civil services reforms are necessary to transform the dysfunctional structure into an operative and functional governing system. The institutional reforms must take into confidence all the stakeholders involved.
The PM also briefed the nation in his recent address about formation of another task force to get back the money laundered to foreign countries by the elite. This seems naive, when the country has NAB, FIA and other anti-corruption agencies, why it should be necessary to create another task force for aforementioned purpose. This decision would have a financial burden over national exchequer and it would also be against the principle, introduced by the PM Imran Khan, austerity. Why the PM not issue directions to improve the functioning of existing institutions. So, it is not a viable option to create another task force, instead the existing institutions must be functionalised and strengthened to get the money back into the country.
It is important to note that PM’s address to nation was satisfactory for a common man. It has elevated the hope in the masses. However, it is important to note that major internal and external issues were not discussed by the PM. For example, terrorism and counter terrorism strategies, issues and policies regarding energy, and most importantly foreign policy issues and objectives of the country. PM has more focused on domestic, economic and institutional issues, no doubt we need to make our own house in order, but not by compromising our foreign policy and extremism issues. There should be synchronised efforts to get things right in the country.
Now question arises is it only Imran Khan’s responsibility to make a better Pakistan? The answer is no, because most of the issues are societal in nature and only a proactive and constructive societal participation in synchronisation with governmental institutions would bring a real change. So, every citizen is responsible for the miserable conditions of the country. Therefore, everyone should endeavour to get things right, because not a single nation has developed without active involvement by its citizens.
In a nutshell, to make Pakistan a great country, a bipolar struggle is required; by government, and by citizens. As regards the government, strong institutions are the need of the hour. For that, the right man should be at the right place. Neither cronyism nor black-mailing should guide the appointments. Rather, a culture of meritocracy must be flourished for revamping institutions. On the other hand, every citizen should play a constructive role to reform the society as a whole. Both the government and citizens must coordinate to make a better Pakistan. Only, then the change would be real not cosmetic.
n The writer is serving in Punjab Police. He holds masters in International Relations from Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. Currently, he writes in different journals and newspapers on Foreign policy and Security issues.