This week China made history when it landed a vehicle on the far side of the moon, also known as the dark side. The feat is considered a milestone in space exploration and is expected to produce a treasure trove of information about the moon and other heavenly bodies.
What is the dark side of the moon? Here’s how The New York Times describes it:
“…[T]he moon is tidally locked with Earth. It rotates exactly once every time it circles our planet, thus keeping the same hemisphere pointing toward Earth at all times. Astronomers refer to the side we always see from Earth as the ‘near side’ and the side we can never see as the ‘far side’. While the far side can never be seen from Earth, it is still illuminated by the sun and has the same phases as the near side. There is no permanently ‘dark side’ of the moon, although it has been described this way in popular culture to refer to the moon’s unknown side.”
We can learn a thing or two, too.
While China begins to discover the dark side of the moon, Pakistan is discovering the dark side of the PTI in government. As The New York Times has informed us above, the ‘dark’ side of the moon isn’t really dark — it’s just that we cannot see it. Similarly what we are now seeing of the PTI was an unseen side — the far side, if you will — that was hidden from our view just like the far side of the moon.
Chinese space rover may be in for a surprise as it crawls across the cratered lunar surface — just like we are being subjected to continuous surprises as the PTI vehicle sputters across the cratered political surface of Pakistan.
The ‘near side’ of PTI was so not like the ‘far side’ we are witnessing now. That side was bright and sunny and luminous and radiant and bursting with promise and potential and possibilities. That side was full of hope and energy and brimming with plans and policies. It was a side that reflected the excitement for a future that could be sculpted with good intentions, good plans and good people to make them happen.
And four months later?
The far side — dark side — is finally visible to the naked eye. What we see is confusion and chaos and bewilderment and befuddlement on a scale that could possibly and probably take your breath away. The near side — bright side — of the PTI promised us police reform that would transform the force into an efficient, service-delivery oriented organisation. The far side — dark side — gave us vanquished IGs and politicised transfers and postings. The bright side held the promise of a dynamic Jahangir Tareen transforming Punjab by picking up where Shehbaz Sharif had left off. The dark side gave us Usman Buzdar. The bright side made us believe the economy would take off within months as billions of dollars of looted money would be brought back into the country. The dark side gave us a re-polished begging bowl, plunging rupee, skyrocketing interest rates, dwindling growth rate and an uncertain business climate. The bright side promised change. The dark side is threatening change.
But it has only been four months, you say. For God’s sake give the PTI a break! And time too. Fair enough. But only to an extent. The PTI has been judged more harshly in these initial months than other governments because it had placed itself on a pedestal and assumed the mantle of a gold standard. And to make matters worse, most of the party’s leaders and rank and file actually began to believe their own rhetoric. The sweeping statements and generalised solutions, the time-lined promises and simplistic policies — all these were fair and good for jalsas and softball interviews and one had assumed that PTI leaders knew the difference between posturing and governance.
But to our horror, it seems they did not. Now it transpires that when Einsteins in the PTI thundered that they would bring back looted money and the economy would be fixed, they actually believed it. And they actually had not thought through the mundane issues of deficits and interest rates and depreciations and subsidies and taxes. It also now transpires that when geniuses in the PTI roared that the moment Imran Khan became prime minister, Pakistanis would rush to flood the coffers of FBR with their taxes, they actually believed it. These geniuses also actually, genuinely believed that the moment Khan donned the sherwani and took the oath, an avalanche of remittances would gush into our treasury from overseas Pakistanis and take our foreign currency reserves into hundreds of billions of dollars.
Who in his or her right senses could have imagined that PTI Einsteins had no idea that tax-to-GDP ratio would not increase in direct proportion to the handsomeness of PM Khan; that party leaders and followers were truly clueless about the fact that oversees Pakistanis could not retire our foreign debt on the call of PM Khan; that they were honestly ignorant that State Owned Enterprises like PIA and the Steel Mills could not reform themselves just because Khan had good intentions.
So now, four months into their five-year tenure, PTI’s Einsteins look around the landscape they have been mandated to rule and go: “holy s**t — what do we do?”
Here’s a suggestion: 1) Get off the high horse, 2) wipe that smirk off your face, 3) lose the selfie kids in the cabinet and usher in the adults, 4) Ask for help where needed, 5) identify key priorities and a specific road map to achieve them, 6) lose the arrogant attitude (there’s no basis for it given the abysmal performance so far), 7) form a task force to keep tabs on what task forces are doing, 8) think specifics, not generalities, 9) legislate, 10) talk less and do more.
The dark side of the moon is actually as bright as the near side, and yet it shines only through reflected light. So can the PTI. If only it can figure out which way the sun shines.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2019.