Prime Minister Imran Khan is a man of integrity, he is Pakistani First, he genuinely wants to reform. I can say it with confidence in view of my long association. His direction is correct as borne out by steps taken since he took office. This is where it hits a snag. There is a disconnect between PM and the implementation machinery. There are capacity issues. His task forces are not delivering. He must beef up his team by capable Subject Matter experts having the requisite skill set. He requires a team of implementers. That team has two components. A motivated political team & appointees on one hand, and effective bureaucracy on the other. Unfortunately both sides are lacking.
Watching him on media reminds me of the era of costume movies where a gladiator would fight off attackers from all four sides. Swinging his sword courageously, with extreme energy he seeks to prevail against overwhelming odds. Or visualize a cricket match where Kaptaan is bowling, batting, catching, wicket keeping single handedly. You see him vigorously engaged on a wide array of subjects ranging from foreign affairs to education, to law and order, to trade. The list goes on and on endlessly. For God’s sake he even has to preside over Punjab Cabinet meeting! It seems IK is running the Government of Pakistan and Punjab single handedly. With a few honourable exceptions most of the team is missing in action.
Let us do a quick quality check. Prime Minister has thrown his full weight behind two top national priorities. Raising funds to build dams. Turn Pakistan green to prevent environmental disaster. Has anyone in his coterie of Ministers and advisors stepped forward to provide details of what they have done on these priorities in their own districts?
How many of them are out there promoting the plans, the policies the steps taken thus far by the PTI Government? They all settle for the comfort of joining the daily talk shows. Most of these shows are
a journey to nowhere. Each party proponent offers stale arguments repeated
hundreds of times over. They blend half truths with falsehoods like robots on
an assembly line trying to score points for their respective leaders to curry
their favours. PTI ministers are happy just doing that! Get out of your
comforts zones, launch your “tabdeeli” packages after due diligence and
implement them. Seven plus months into being in power you will soon run of
steam on “they did this and that” argument. People will ask what have you
IK is running a marathon race at 100 metres dash speed and his team is complacent slumbering peacefully. How the hell do you expect to implement “tabdeeli” riding a bullock cart when the need is a
Then there is the bureaucracy. It is paralysed for very selfish reasons. They can be mainly split into three categories. The first group is the is well entrenched ones who have successfully served multiple political masters and have sharply honed survival instincts. They are hedging their bets. Nawaz Sharif is a comeback kid of sorts returning stronger each time after multiple ousters. This class have built personal fortunes benefitting from hanging onto coattails of massive plunderers in previous regimes. They carried their bosses’ out orders legal or otherwise, dipping into the kitty for themselves. It is not just their jobs at stake, they have to shelter their ill gotten wealth. They are biding their time, keeping low profile waiting for the final episode of Sharif family saga to end. Those who served PPP masters are also in the same mode.
The second category are those who specialize in the art of survival. They are
nimble footed and extremely cautious. After passing one entrance exam they are
assured a lifetime of a secure service. They don’t ruffle feathers, nor resist
any form of authority and dodge every ball coming their way. They enjoy the
perks and benefits of service. They have no commitment to the people except
their self interest serving out their tenures. They seek to attain bosses approval, no matter how demeaning.
Both these group justify their inefficiency and inaction to the fear of NAB. Utter nonsense. What is stopping them from implementing lawful orders given in writing except their malafide intentions?
A senior bureaucrat and close friend once shared a trade secret. Write a note or a draft
that has multiple interpretations that can survive a regime change. This is the
biggest impediment for PTI Government who is attempting meaningful changes in
the system. It endangers the very existence of their cosy edifices built over
70 years for all weather protection of their self interest!
PM Imran Khan best bet is to go for the third category. All civil services have officers not falling in the above two categories. They are neat, clean and competent officers, dedicated to their professions
with a commitment to better the nation. They were always a thorn on the side of
self serving corrupt regimes and found themselves either sidelined or pushed
into unproductive meaningless positions. They still have fire in their bellies.
This requires head hunting and a thorough search. PTI has in its fold some very
honourable names. They joined out of conviction but were no match to political
hassling so went to the sidelines. Shafqat Mehmood is a cabinet minister,
Fareed Uddin Ahmad, Tasneem Noorani, Shaukat Javed, Chaudhry Yaqub, just to
name a few, can provide invaluable input. But someone needs to reach out to
them. PM’s Advisors please move.
The PM has to manage this motley crowd over whom he can exercise minimal control. With all the powers vested in the exalted office of the Prime Minister he can only exercise limited management tools. He
can transfer a bureaucrat, suspend them for a limited period but has zero
capacity to use the tool that drives global power structures and business
empires. The ability to hire and fire. The prevailing archaic power structure developed
by the British Empire is totally outmoded, redundant and out of line to
management needs of the 21st Century. He has to step up and make the necessary
changes to the existing legislation to bring some sense into this unproductive
lot. Leaving it as it is an unnecessary luxury that our heavily indebted nation
cannot afford. Changes to the existing legislation to bring some sense into this unproductive lot.
Leaving it as it is an unnecessary luxury that our heavily indebted nation cannot afford.