THERE is no reason to disbelieve that government of Imran Khan faces no real political threat from opposition and its allies. It is neither on streets nor in Parliament but it hangs around the corner from within because of its contradictions, inaction and incoherence in its functioning to overcome the crises. Instead it gives birth to crises. Recent one is of wheat crisis across the country because of lack of foresightedness and planning. Following goods transporters strike, no one anticipated this and took remedial measures. The government moves only when problems come to the head, leaving people at further worst to brave punishing consequences alone.
Admittedly, Imran Khan inherited the country when it was in total mess economically, politically, administratively, morally and socially at the hands of greedy and grasping ruling elite over a long haul. The situation was fraught with extreme dangers but their magnitude and gravity was well known but it dawned on PTI when it took over the government. They came into power ill prepared with scant cognizance of challenges at hand. It neither had the plan nor the team. The absence of team was more critical because Imran Khan was to bring change. Given conditions, it was a formidable proposition. PTI had a very few competent people. Instead of fielding them as bulwark to wrestle with ominously placed odds, he consigned them to ceremonial cozy places; Country President and Governor of the Provinces. Underlying purpose is difficult to decipher. Either it was a bounty to them for their past support or avoiding capable people because generally they are difficult lot to deal with or he is oblivious of importance of brilliant team in statecraft.
Much to dismay and anguish of his supporters/sympathizers, he picked up two novice, armature and inept MPAs to head the provinces where he had the government. Usman Buzdar in Punjab and Mahmoud Khan in the KP. Punjab could be his waterloo if not administered adroitly. With Buzdar, it is foreordained. He cannot even learn, being devoid of basic grey matter, required to understand ropes of business at position of CM of most populous province. Only option is of cutting the losses by replacing him with a man of abilities commensurate to demands of the job. Punjab is drowning and has become his biggest Achilles heel. Most recent stop gap arrangements of curtailing powers of CM and transferring these to Chief Secretary and IG Police may not do the trick because two engines would try to pull the train in two different directions under conflicting compulsions.
It is said that a leader ought to be credible, competent and clean. Without competency, other attributes soon become redundant rather a liability. There is no escape from it particularly, if one is not himself adequately capable. The exception is, if he chooses a brighter, honest and committed team and then gives them freedom to play the ball according to own dimensions. Then he acts more of a watchman than a functionary. Imran Khan is optimum on credibility but is very short on scale of intellectual capability and capacity hence, in his case, importance of capable, honest and dedicated team even becomes more pronounced. Instead of cobbling together teams at political and administrative levels in centre and provinces, he has adopted centralized style of governance. He calls frequent marathon meetings of a large Federal Cabinet from where nothing substantive comes out except wastage of precious time which could be spent more profitably elsewhere.
Whatever outcome of these meetings, generally gets lost somewhere while passing through long trail of implementation because of absence of competent people at important tiers. He also fiddles with working of provinces but outcome is no better. One thing more is also conspicuous. Frequent meetings of his media team with him whose result is mind-boggling when their performance is seen on media screens. Frankly, a glance over functioning of governance, gives an impression of its miscarriage. The stagnation and sloth mark its corridors. Nothing seems moving apace and satisfactorily. The apt example is of meetings under Imran Khan on price control. The decisions taken barely translate into action in markets. Except Imran Khan, no one seem in worry or hurry. For them, it is business as usual whereas, requirement is urgent when seen in context of backbreaking economic plight of ordinary people, total administrative breakdown and mischief of ruling mafia to fail the change.
Another aspect is its drive to rehabilitate ailing economy which turned out to be lopsided with no care and caution for people, living below poverty line. This has impoverished them to the limit, making their sustenance virtually impossible. Caught in whir land of hard knocks of life, people have started calling Nawaz Sharif’s regime better than of now regardless of the fact that it set off the country on roll coaster to disaster. Though it is not a final and firm judgment but an emphatic call for Imran Khan to take immediate stock of the situation and take corrective measures. The clock is not on its normal speed. It is running out as fast as hopes of people are fading about him. He has named current year a year of relief to people but absence of right people at right places may render it another dismaying experience. In short, he has to do two things to keep hope of change vibrant; economic relief and good governance for common people with no luxury of time and laxity.
— The writer, a retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.