STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

Rustic wisdom emanates from centuries of experience transferred from generation to generation. These universal truths are common amongst cultures and geography. In the subcontinent folklore, it goes as “jo beejo gay so kaato gay”. Yet our political leaders overlook this basic wisdom blinded by the shine and glamour of money and power.

Despite multiple examples in our history to learn from, leaders keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Take the case of the present day relentless pursuit by PDM to drive out a legitimate, democratically elected Government midterm. Their anger and outbursts know no bounds. Despite a resounding “no” by “Zinda Dilan-e-Lahore” during the December 13th “Jalsa”, the angry PDM leadership continues to threaten to bring down the Government imminently.

What are they relying on? They are counting on an outburst of support converting into an ocean of a discontent public. They expect that wave will carry them back into the corridors of power in Islamabad without an electoral verdict. In words of Ms. Maryam Nawaz “awam ka thathain marta samunder”, will ensure Prime Minister Imran Khan’s surrender. So far it is a pipe dream yet PDM “Eleven” continues to spit fire and pursue it blindly hoping they will eventually gain traction.

What is fueling their anger and desperation? It is definitely not the love of the common man; it is the blind alley they are trapped in through PM IK’s push for accountability. Traditional rivals PPP and PML(N) are drinking from the same watering hole; declared holy water by Maulana Fazal. This is their final attempt to prevent Nawaz Sharif being pushed into infamy and political oblivion. They are willing to sell their souls to the devil to prevent the inevitable; PM IK’s conviction to take this process to its logical conclusion.

There are pitfalls that the PTI Government needs to prioritize immediately. The biggest challenge is the runaway food inflation. People are bearing the pain, hurting but have not given up on PTI. That is evident from the fact that PDM has failed to muster widespread support. However like all relationship bonding, it has limits before disappointment turns into resentment leading to rejection. This trajectory needs to be halted and diverted.

Running a close second is failure of seeing tangible results delivered by PTI. The economy is seeing a directional change and a better picture is emerging. I was driving around my neighborhood. In just two adjacent streets I counted twelve new houses being built. As an economist I know that real estate and infrastructure development are the greatest triggers for economic development. Multiple sectors benefit from it and it generates economic activity leading to employment. I drove by a few “Sahulat Bazaar” locations that were offering lower priced food items of daily use, a huge relief for the common man. I urge PM IK’s media team to spend more time on highlighting these positive developments beyond being pit bull warriors constantly on the attack.

The recent speech by PM IK accepting that time has been wasted in coming to grips with the real issues led to PDM having a field day. They gave it a spin that PM IK has admitted his failure. In my view it is refreshing to see truth being spoken on the national arena. It is not an admission of defeat, it is a reality check to correct the imbalances and improve performance. Historically our politicians always portrayed a rosy picture even when “Rome was burning”; it takes a true courage for a leader to accept that things need to improve.

It demonstrates the will that the 2nd half of the PTI term will produce better results than before. PM IK is not on the defensive; rather he is thinking with a clear mind seeking avenues to improve. He should not yield grounds on accountability. He should push ahead with reforms that benefit the common man despite the impediments created by the tragedy known as 18th Amendment. Signing agreements with the ministries, establishing goals, is a good start. PM IK must ruthlessly demand results from his team.

The tone being set by young Bilawal and not so young Maryam is bound to trigger equal and opposite reactions. “You reap what you sow” came to mind when there was some minor sniping about the results of “cosmetic surgery”. We all have families and daughters. I recollect the nineties when the Sharif brothers used to pride themselves as “made in Pakistan”. They derided Benazir Bhutto as a product of the West, “made in England” and Imran Khan as a Jewish agent through marriage. They opened the doors to attacking females in politics or relations of politicians.

“Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones” a proverb ignored by the Sharifs in their hunger for power and ruthless desire to decimate the opponents. Now they stand exposed in their present leadership. I dread the onset of the rough and tumble language of the next elections.

Having suffered these insults, it is brave of PPP to stand shoulder to shoulder with PML(N). Signing onto the anti-establishment agenda of Nawaz Sharif and using resignations as a threat, it is Bilawal’s nascent leadership that has the most to lose. They will lose the Government in Sind, their Senate seats and become irrelevant on the national scene. Punjab is in no mood to compensate them through giving a foothold there. They must remember PM IK’s departure does not ensure end of accountability.


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