Having formed its governments in the country’s three provinces and at Centre simultaneously, PTI has gotten the opportunity to implement its promised reform agenda to make a Naya Pakistan . Every opportunity has a cost, so is the opportunity to make a Naya Pakistan . This Naya Pakistan will essentially be made at the cost of Purana (old) Pakistan. Naya Pakistan is yet to be built but Purana Pakistan has been dismantled. Only time will tell whether Prime Minister Imran Khan would succeed in making a Naya Pakistan , and how far this new Pakistan would be better than older one. But, a number of visibly good things of Purana Pakistan have also been discarded while doing so. Indeed, the baby should have not been thrown out with the bathwater. Moreover, in the name of Tabdeeli, a lot of things are being accommodated which are only the hallmarks of the political status quo. Paradoxically, a large number of ‘builders’ of Punrana Pakistan are now part of the team to construct a Naya Pakistan . Therefore, for many, making a Naya Pakistan is the typical practice of putting old wine in a new bottle.
Holding PML(N) and its leader Nawaz Sharif responsible for the underlying ailments of the country, the architects of Naya Pakistan considered this ‘status quo’ party and its ‘corrupt’ leader the major hurdle in the way of making Naya Pakistan . Therefore, they decided to make PML(N) and Nawaz Sharif politically irrelevant by hook or by crook. Influenced by the Machiavellian art of statecraft, this characteristic subordination of the means to an end instantly became the guiding ideology to make a Naya Pakistan . And perceptions took precedence over reality. The apex court dislodged and disqualified Nawaz Sharif on the basis of some popular perceptions rather than solid evidence. It evolved a novel constitutional jurisprudence and legal procedure to punish ‘corrupt’ Nawaz Sharif. Later, PML(N) was made to lose last general elections through what is being dubbed a ‘political engineering’. So, the so-called Third Umpire the country’s top adjudicators compromised their institutional impartiality, which perhaps is the major cost for making Naya Pakistan . These important state institutions have put all their eggs in the PTI’s baskets.
The largest political party PML(N) is the primary loser in Naya Pakistan . Its top leader Nawaz Sharif has been dislodged, humiliated and jailed after being labeled as corrupt. Similarly, a number of seasoned and experienced PML(N) leaders will also have no role to play in making a Naya Pakistan . PML(N) has dominated the country’s political scene for many years. This party was best known for its pro-business policies and infrastructural development projects. Despite its numerous flaws and shortcomings, this party is better than many other political parties which have been ‘allowed’ to operate in Naya Pakistan . This instant irrelevance of the country’s largest political party is another significant cost for making a Naya Pakistan . This political development is being viewed neither beneficial for the democracy nor for growing political institutions in Pakistan.
PTI leaders are making claims that corruption would not be tolerated at all in Naya Pakistan . This so-called corruption factor distinguishes new Pakistan from the older one. It is yet to see how far PTI government will succeed in eliminating corruption from the country. But it is also important that PTI should introduce a proactive governance model to substantially uplift the socio-economic status of the deprived and downtrodden Pakistanis. An incompetent and indolent government is as bad as a corrupt one.
After coming into power following the 2013 general elections, PML(N) revived the political tradition of allowing a majority political party to form its government. So the ruling PML(N) didn’t politically maneuver to stop PTI, a majority party in the province, from forming and running the provincial government in KP. Unfortunately, this healthy democratic tradition of Purana Pakistan has been abandoned in Naya Pakistan . Recently, PML(N), which is the single largest party in the Punjab Assembly, was not encouraged to form its government in Punjab.
PTI Chairman and Prime Minister Imran Khan have tended to assume a totalitarian position in Naya Pakistan . He is currently calling the shots. He is selecting and making appointments for almost all important slots, including the ministries in the federal and provincial cabinets. So, “I have appointed” has somehow become his signature phrase. Last week, through a tweet, he announced “I have appointed Ehsan Mani as Chairman PCB”. He made this announcement ignoring the fact it is not the Prime Minister but an independent Board of Governors which is legally capable of selecting PCB Chairman as per the new PCB Constitution. He announced the appointment of CM Punjab in the similar fashion. Later, he also interviewed and selected the ministers for the Punjab cabinet. It is rather advisable that PTI should have nominated a proactive and dynamic person for the slot of CM Punjab who should subsequently select his cabinet ministers. Regrettably, PTI favours offering administrative autonomy to the provincial police chiefs to improve the state of policing but it doesn’t consider it appropriate to fully empower a provincial chief executive to actively deliver in a province. This practice not only against the spirit of democracy but also erodes the very concept of federalism.
A lot of Pakistanis are currently looking towards PTI to bring about a real change in the country. They consider PTI a catalyst for change. In fact, the disillusioned Pakistanis have been welcoming every “saviour of the nation” for the last 70 years in the hope of getting a better change. But sadly, they eventually find themselves in the middle of nowhere. Once again, Pakistanis have paid a lot to make a Naya Pakistan . This time, the game must worth the candle.
The writer is a lawyer and columnist based in Lahore.