Proposition of technocrat govt

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AS political situation is quite fluid and the incumbent Government is not inclined to invite wrath of the public by taking tough, difficult and bold decisions provided firm guarantees are given for continuation of the otherwise fragile system till completion of the term of the present Assembly, some circles have floated the idea of a technocrat government for the next, at least, two/three years to put the shattered and battered economy back on track.

It is argued that a possible default was staring at the face of the country, necessitating the proclamation of a state of economic emergency so that the rulers get required powers and courage to take much-needed measures aimed at course correction.

The Constitution provides for installation of a caretaker government for three months to hold elections once the National Assembly is dissolved and there is no bar on nomination of a technocrat for the interim set-up and it is for the interim Prime Minister to choose technocrats as members of his cabinet.

However, the economic and financial challenges of the country are so complicated that nothing substantial can be done or achieved during this limited period and therefore some circles believe the interim administration should continue for a reasonably extended period.

It is a million dollar question how this supra-constitutional set-up is to be devised and legitimized despite the fact that the country definitely needs an urgent strategy to cope with the impending economic crisis.

The limitations of the political parties are understandable as they have to keep the welfare of the people uppermost in their overall planning and execution of policies and programmes.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan risked breaching the agreement his Government so meticulously concluded with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by reducing the prices of petroleum products and announcing a freeze on prices till June 2022 besides providing consumers substantial relief in electricity bills.

He did so against the core economic interests of the country in the face of mounting political pressure by the opposition parties.

These measures were considered as landmines for the new Government, which is not finding courage to undo them at the cost of its popularity.

The leadership of the unity government believes the new Government should not bear the responsibility of the economic mess created by the previous Government.

There are no clear signs as to what the Government would ultimately do but stray statements of cabinet members and top political leaders of the ruling coalition parties are conveying an impression that they are willing to reform the economy and at the same time provide relief to the masses but political stability is the pre-requisite.

This is also understandable as, on the one hand, Imran Khan is mobilizing public opinion on a daily basis for a march on Islamabad with the objective of paralyzing the Government and forcing it to announce an early date for general election and on the other hand, the Government is not getting a free hand in the presence of a non-cooperative presidency.

Already, there is no cabinet in the largest province of the country and the latest interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution by the Supreme Court has complicated the situation and added to uncertainty further in Punjab.

As if all this was not enough, the Chief Justice of Pakistan has taken suo motu notice of a perceived interference of ‘persons in authority in the government today’, which is seen as part of the judicial activism but allegedly at the cost of interference in the domains of parliament and an elected government.

The Shehbaz Government has demonstrated its capability and capacity to deliver in most trying circumstances as is evident from approval of the plan on Wednesday to impose a ban on import of 50 luxury items that would help save $1 billion a month but it is quite understandable it cannot do so in the prevailing circumstances.

The Government also has a razor thin majority and it can be toppled any time if any of the coalition partners ditches it at some point of time.

It, therefore, needs internal cohesion and unity as well as external support by other stakeholders in the system to resolve the daunting economic challenges of the country.

Time is running fast and right decisions will have to be taken for the sake of the country and its people.

 

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