Ready for governance?

The PTI of post-October 2011 has to be revived

With its shadow cabinet and functional think tanks, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was well prepared to deliver change through good governance. The mammoth public support at the Lahore Jalsa on October 30, 2011, sent shockwaves to the forces of the status quo. At this take-off stage, the party came under attack from the age-old electables. On the second show of strength on December 25, 2011, at the Mazar-e-Quaid, the old party guard had been relegated to the lower stage while Imran Khan (IK) was surrounded by new players on the main stage. There were clear signs that the movement had been hijacked. Comrade Ahsan Rashid, the Chou-En-Lai of the party had arranged a lavish after-Jalsa dinner at the Sheraton Hotel which proved to be the proverbial ‘Last Supper’ for the PTI idealogues who had worked hard to build the party into a formidable movement that could no longer be ignored.

PTI was denied election victory in the disputed 2013 electoral contest. It was made to wait for another term before coming into power in 2018 at the centre, Punjab and KP. Despite popular support, IK had to form coalition governments both in Islamabad and Lahore. It is indeed interesting to note that only PML-N was able to manage an absolute majority not once but twice (1997, 2013), clearly indicating its proximity with the establishment while both PTI and PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) were denied this support. IK came into power surrounded by age-old tested and failed electables. The shadow cabinet, which was a blend of highly qualified technocrats and clean political players, was largely ignored. The selection of the PSPM (Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister) was also imprudent, it was an extension of the Peshawar bureaucracy which lacked broader understanding at the national level.The preparatory policy formulation by think tanks was also binned as. being impractical, prepared by political novices. The know-all and deliver nothing electables were back in the saddle. While the leader tried his best, the managers lacked the spirit to fight for change by taking on the forces of the status quo.

To deliver change one has to rely on out-of-the-box solutions but before venturing out of the system, the inside has to be fully understood. Decisions are reached on the files for which documentation and paperwork are required which are in the control of the bureaucrats who are the champions of the status quo. Most political players are weak in this area. Over the years, established political parties have reached an understanding to operate within the system for mutual benefits with the policy of ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’ with no concern for public interests. In 1971 when Bhutto came into power, the party was well prepared for the much-needed change through good governance. Several age-old colonial roadblocks were removed. The right to travel was recognised with major reforms in the Passport Directorate. For purposes of identification, a National Identity Card scheme was introduced which was later computerised under the National Identification and Registration Authority (NADRA). A generic medicine scheme was introduced to lower the cost of medicines. It was the brainchild of the ‘Baba-e-Socialism’, Sheikh Rashid of Lahore. Recently the same approach has been adopted in India under Narendra Modi. When the Police force decided to go on strike in Punjab and Frontier (KP now) they were handled with an iron hand. In the 1973 constitution, several clauses of human rights were legislated which remain un-implemented today. Within the party there was a blend of political players and technocrats, Bhutto himself understood the system and the required paperwork.

Like Bhutto’s PPP, PTI was also well prepared for good governance through a blend of clean political players and technocrats. In the recently held Local Bodies elections in Sindh, Firdous Shamim Naqvi (FSN), an old party guard, prevailed against all odds. The PTI of postOctober 2011 has to be revived, together with its think tanks and a serious review of policies painfully formulated by experts. The party is blessed with leadership but needs good managers of the likes of Comrade Ahsan Rashid (late) and Naeem-ul-Haq (late). Dr Arif Alvi also played an important role within the party as Secretary General but was cornered like several other genuine old party players.

IK has talked about the need for much-needed structural changes in the system of governance. Technocrats have to replace the outdated bureaucrats. Pakistan also faces serious economic challenges. Focus has to be on food and fuel. Both areas need major focus and an effective road map to move forward with indigenous resources. As an agricultural country food security can be ensured. With huge deposits of coal (175 billion tons) energy needs can be met with the application of 21stcentury environmentally friendly technologies. While exports have to be increased, the import bill must also be drastically reduced to narrow the trade deficit. Austerity measures are also required to cut down state expenses. Yes, let’s think outside the box, but only after exploring the options within, will the party’s homework be put to good use this time around to deliver the much-needed change through good governance.

Dr Farid A Malik

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email: fmaliks@

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email:

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