Much has been contested about the now ostensibly worn notion of ‘CHANGE’ promised by PTI’s supreme Imran Khan on which he got a chance to rule the country. We all knew change won’t come overnight but it was expected of him and his team alike to come with full preparedness given the outcomes of all pre-election surveys that projected his victory and his experience in KPK of five years. But, it became exposed two months following his party came into corridors of powers in federal and Punjab assembly that changing status-quo proved a hard nut to crack for him of what he thought to be a walk-over before elections. Here is a brief account of fronts where ‘CHANGE’ seems stumbling on the face of adverse circumstances:
Different Politics of Punjab: Politics & environment in Punjab is altogether different when compared with other provinces especially KPK. PTI government was at loss to fathom the true picture of Punjab’s politics and this misunderstanding proved a bottleneck in the way of change. When PTI took charge of KPK, it was a war-torn and mismanaged province. Their more visible triumphs there like purging the Police of political interference and building anti-terrorism units with the help of armed forces were widely acclaimed there. Moreover, even small steps of theirs like Ehtasab Commission- which eventually was disintegrated- sent positive vibes in the masses that the provincial Government was serious about bringing the ‘CHANG E’. PTI government sold these achievements in Election campaigns and milked them without realizing politics in Punjab would be altogether a different terrain. Also, Punjab had witnessed a more vibrant CM in near past for almost a decade who also commenced mega projects like Metro and Orange Train. So, to match his political stature and Media presence PTI’s CM proved a poor choice.
Interference in Bureaucracy: Feudal culture is prevalent and perennial in rural areas of Punjab. An elected assembly member is not thought of powerful if the police and the other arms of bureaucracy don’t pay heed to him. PM Imran Khan, soon after his ascendance to power, announced there will be no pressure on Government officials in discharging duties independently by PTI’s elected members. In the first month of Government, many party members were unhappy with the performance of officialdom and took it on which created a gulf between Govt officers and assembly members. To the dismay of political analysts and supporters of PTI, Pakpattan incident where District Police Officer was transferred in rush on the whim of a political personality and an unsuccessful attempt of removing IG Punjab further aggravated the situation. Following these events, Nasir Durrani, the force behind reforming KPK police and on whose name PTI was able to raise the slogan of Punjab Police reforms, resigned instantly. These events put a question mark over tall claims of PTI to reform the bureaucracy and bring it in line with modern civil services of developed countries.
Economic Turmoil: It is an open secret that the economy of Pakistan is in the shambles. PTI promised to turnaround economy and also bring back looted money of Pakistan stashed abroad. But, the promise of Finance Minister of not going to IMF and later reneging on it took a heavy toll on investors ‘ confidence and thus on the economy. The situation changed for worse when Stock Market crashed and value of Rupee nosedived. Businessmen and investors are eagerly waiting for the policy of Government to turnaround economy.
However, some steps of infant Government evince a light at the end of dark tunnel. These steps make us deliberate that ‘CHANGE’ is Work In Progress and Government is not fumbling in the dark on all fronts. A package is announced for textile mills – half of them are closed due to high energy rates- under which subsidized rates will be applied on gas bills. This will be good for the economy because, in past, textile products also brought the major chunk of foreign exchange through exports. It will also produce employment opportunities. Moreover, 5 million houses project has also been announced by the government which has ignited a ray of hope amongst the masses. PTI government also looks strong on its drive against corrupt elements in all government sectors. If the government delivers on the economic front and take concerted and concrete steps to deliver on its promises, it will be able to bring about ‘CHANGE’ despite its initial stumbling.