GOVERNANCE ON TRIAL

STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

In my last post I had written about the “Great Escape” of Nawaz Sharif. I had commented about the emerging convergence between the institutions. I repeat the relevant portion.

“For the first time in Pakistan’s 70 plus years of existence all the institutions were pulling in the same direction. They seek to bring about change and reform in this much abused and brutalized nation. This nascent, yet wonderful, association is under threat. I urge all involved with utmost humility; please don’t extinguish the small flame of hope that finally had started to shed some light for this nation’s future.”

The events of past week were unnerving. Fortunately they came to a positive conclusion. I am referring to the matter taken up by the Chief Justice regarding the extension for the Army Chief. An anomaly in law has been highlighted and an opportunity provided to the government to correct it within a reasonable time frame. But what was extremely disturbing was the shoddy handling by those involved in the extension process. The conflicting summaries written have caused embarrassment for the government. The phrase “shuttlecock” used by the Chief Justice says it all.

Upon reflection I realize that there is a deeper message underlying the whole episode. Despite the rumor mills working overtime, especially on social media, there is no conflict amongst the institutions. That is a great relief for those who wish Pakistan well. It is a clear message to PTI to improve its governance. There is a huge difference between bringing the government down and asking them to improve on their performance.  

I sincerely hope that is how it is received by the Prime Minister and his boisterous cabinet. Verbosity is a disease from which most PTI spokespersons suffer from. It means “the quality of using more words than needed” also known as babbling or jabbering. Unfortunately most of these PTI leaders within and outside the cabinet seem to be in race with each other to be more outlandish than the other. They believe it will impress the Prime Minister. I urge them to stop doing it. If they want to impress, do it through your performance not your verbosity.

Politics has a lot of resemblance with the game of wrestling. You don’t overcome the opponent through sheer brute force, it requires technique, it requires tactics and it requires a thinking mind to emerge as a winner. Being aggressive is only a part of the contest. Sometimes the factors mentioned above are more important. Each player in the team needs to excel in their responsibilities, not to try to be the biggest bully on the block! This attitude only harms the party. Bring forward ideas that will serve the people and convert them into policies that will better the commoner’s lot.

PTI broke the stranglehold of the two party system. It was unimaginable three years ago that the chokehold of PML(N) and PPP with their allies could be dismembered. It gave people hope that things can change from the path of a downward spiral. It was considered unachievable till it emerged as a reality. The expectations went through the roof. I hate to admit it, being a PTI die-hard since day one, the performance is lacking. The kind of no nonsense governance required to overcome the steep mountain of problems facing the country has not emerged thus far.

While Prime Minister Imran Khan is giving his best, his team is seriously lacking in governance. Look at Punjab. Chief Minister Buzdar’s deliverability sucks. Since his coronation I have yet to see any result that would give him even the slightest resemblance to Wasim Akram’s talent!

He is a fit case for Hara Kiri. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is ritual suicide once practiced in Japan by Samurais as an honorable alternative to disgrace. I don’t want that extreme, but the least he can do is resign. The constant hiring and firing of Chief Secretary and IGP resembles the old saying that a bad workman quarrels with his tools. This is a democracy; the leadership comes from the politicians and not the bureaucracy.

Moving on with governance; where is the veracity, the conformity to facts amongst the team of ministers and advisers assembled around the PM? In the last 18 months what policies have they announced in their ministries? What progress have they made on their announcements, if any?

Barring the macroeconomic picture which is improving and foreign relations positive performance, what else? What steps shine as a beacon of hope for the common man? Health, education, employment, controlling inflation, fast track conviction of the corrupt, reform and improvement in law and order and services to the public are the burning issues. PTI spokespersons need to spell these out rather than loud mouthing on non issues in media, mostly for self glory.

At the root of it all is the failure to improve the governance and its systems. Countries are not run by individuals; it needs a competent, result oriented team working in unison. But unfortunately no results reflect on the leader. Therefore, only the well wishers will point out the shortcomings; opposition will smile from within while the “chamchas” will applaud whichever way the wind blows! We all want Pakistan to improve and Prime Minister Imran Khan to succeed. However, only IK can clear the minefield laid by his team. Governance is on trial here.

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