Cricket Hero, has once again won the hearts of the people. He won world cup in 1992, and now by living upto his words, he has captured the hearts of the 220 million souls in Pakistan. The fact that he humbled powerful parties in 25th July polling, but set new trends, first during his two simple worded speeches before and after swearing In ceremonies, and by tasking ministers to be simple, austere, and prove their worth by working 14 hours a day.
As a leader, he had to apply principle he wanted his team mates to follow, by shifting to a 3-bed room house, of military secretary, outside the prime minister house in annex, by doing away with the protocol, of dozens of cars, previously seen for years, and now ordering cabinet ministers, and expecting the president of Pakistan, chief justice, senate chairman, national assembly speaker, and he himself to come down from high-cost first class to business class travels That would mean sufficient reduction in budget.
Secondly discretionary funds available to ministers, and other high ups, have now been done away with. Information minister Fawas Chaudhri announced at a post-cabinet meeting briefing that the prime minister has applied same principles on himself for others to emulate. Cabinet decisions, are binding on everyone for being collective in nature.
He also decided against using the executive jet, which had been for years at the disposal of the prime minister, and perhaps may be travelling by commercial airlines, whenever on foreign tours. Yet another decision, not announced, but may become public soon is that a senior official of the prime minister’s secretariat submitted list of 40 persons to accompany him on his upcoming visit to New York for UN General Assembly session. Imran saw the list; his face became red with anger. Such a huge list? Why, he asked.
When informed that previously prime ministers carried entourage of 70 to 80 people, but because of his austerity drive, the number has been cut down to 40.
Imran tore off the list, threw back in the face of the official who had brought this to him and said that first it is not certain if he will be leaving Pakistan for first three months, UN general assembly session team will be led by foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, will include foreign secretary, and just one more senior officer of the foreign office. The officer, rushed out of the prime minister’s room hiding his face sweating and reddened. Fawad Chauhdri informed media that Nawaz Sharif spent Rs 21 billion discretionary funds, and another Rs30m were spent by ministers, and parliamentarians.
The question arises now that if such funds are frozen for good, how will the parliamentarians satisfy their electorate where development work was a compulsion. The answer had already been provided by Imran much before taking oath of office that local government system will be strengthened, and all such work will be handled by councillors or mayors, or those in district governments. The policy was initiated by General Pervez Musharraf, through his devolution plan, framed by General ® Tanveer Naqvi. Soom After 2008 elections, this was undone, and the result if that a tug of war between local government institutions and provincial chief ministers.
The system has to be revived. No escape from that. A virtue, re-invented after long time, was turned into a major vice, poor results of which are now clearly visible on the broad national spectrum, analysts agree. As for Karachi, PTI’s unprecedented success in last month’s polls, of bagging 14 of the national assembly seats from Karachi, and sinking the hopes of PPP to bulldoze the fighting factions of MQM, to limt the latter to mere 3 seats which were same as of 2013 elections. PPP just could not do well in Karachi, However credit goes to Bilawal for carrying out tremendous campaign in the Punjab and winning 6 seats instead of just one in the last elections.
So far, so good. Imran has succeeded in saving his image in the public, but problem, higher than Himalayas are now staring in his face. However as Shah Mehmood Qureshi has pointed out the PTI chief has laid down his guidelines in sensitive foreign policy sector too, better ties with India, peace with Afghanistan, rebuffing US secretary of State Pompeo of making wrong statements during telephone calls to the new Pakistan prime minister. Records were set instantly by foreign office spokesperson Dr Faisal. Good and heartening news if that three or four foreign ministers are in line to be in Islamabad early next month.
That means that the new PTI government has earned goodwill worldwide, and is in much better position to project a positive image of Pakistan, and market the country abroad to enhance its image, which is now at lowest ebb.