Deliver on the manifesto of change!

Captain, you need to bowl very lethally in the last spell against the status quo; this is what you are, where you are


Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri October 26, 2021
The writer is a senior journalist currently associated with a think tank based in Islamabad. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s rise to the highest pinnacle was for a purpose. He was neither an alternate politician, nor one who wanted to ride the saddle to taste power. What made him a heart throb for the electorate was his agenda for change, and his resolve to rewrite the rules of state business. With an impeccable track record, he clinched the top slot. Since then he has been wandering in illusion as to how to put the horse before the cart!

Though his thrust has been on good governance, and he has been quite successful in setting in many firsts, he seems to be gradually losing his stride. The Skipper, who introduced Third Umpires in Cricket, is caught off guard while taking on an instilled mafia at home. He is doing his best as Mr Clean, but that is not enough! His manifesto was to cleanse the country from the corrupt, recover stolen assets, and usher in a system of justice by introducing reforms across the board. Three years down the line, he is lost.

Legislators have become his liability in an attempt to retain the magic figure of 178 on the floor of the house. This is a stigma of electoral politics that he himself chose — with a heavy heart though. His efforts to reignite the economy have bred favourable results, but have fallen short of undoing the status quo. Pakistan even today is home to 100 million people below the poverty line, and 20 per cent of them malnourished and destitute.

Something, somewhere has gone wrong. His debut spell hasn’t been able to clinch wickets by introducing reforms in police, judiciary and bureaucracy. Revamp them and the country will be on the path of a welfare state. This should have been done in the first 100 days. Proposals and policy prescriptions are now gathering dust, as he is compelled to compromise to stay afloat.

Notwithstanding his sincere intentions, the business of the state is very much as it was. This calls for a moment of deep introspection. It’s high time the Captain took out time to ponder over it. That can only be done by setting aside sycophants. Louis the XIV was made to believe all is well in his state. But that wasn’t the case.

The mantra of accountability, likewise, remains a far cry. No high-profile scandal has met with justice, and none of the hundreds of accused blamed for siphoning away billions have stood retribution. The country is reeling under $100 billion international debt. This could have been paid off with the stroke of a pen, if the law had taken its course on accountability. But shenanigans got it scuttled.

The so-called recoveries by NAB to the tune of Rs500 billion are peanuts, to put it politely. No one from the treasury benches now remembers the $200 billion, or so, that were allegedly stashed in foreign accounts. No sincere attempt has been made in forfeiting properties at home and abroad that were supposedly bought by duping the national exchequer. The NAB and other prosecution agencies, irrespective of substantiated cases under their belts, are biting dust.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has been a victim of two paradoxes. One; a weak, incompetent and compromised prosecution team; and two, a disastrous media management. These two scourges have nullified whatever achievements the dispensation has been able to register.

Kerry E Wagner, an American filmmaker who is known for his criticism of human relationships, said: “You don’t have to worry about burning bridges, if you’re building your own.” The PM should take a leaf from it. He still has time to deliver on his promises. And that can only be done by flexing his muscles, and doing all that he can in his executive domain. Do not worry about fallout. Seeking a second term should be the last worry.

Captain, you need to bowl very lethally in the last spell against the status quo. This is what you are, where you are. The nation is sure, you can! Never let it down.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2021.

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