PM Im­ran Khan

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

The as­sump­tion of the of­fice of Prime Min­is­ter by Im­ran khan has many sym­bolic mean­ings hid­den un­der­neath. The 30year old stran­gle­hold of a cor­rupt po­lit­i­cal elite has been bro­ken and for the first time a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the mid­dle class has en­tered the cor­ri­dors of power. ZA Bhutto de­spite all his po­lit­i­cal rhetoric was a feu­dal lord, while Nawaz Sharif emerged as the spokesman and guardian of the in­ter­ests of the busi­ness class. Dur­ing the last 30 years Nawaz Sharif and Zar­dari did noth­ing but loot the public ex­che­quer and trans­ferred their il­le­gal as­sets abroad, buy­ing prop­er­ties and set­ting up busi­nesses in for­eign lands.

Cor­rup­tion was the name of the game and mis­use of public money was free for all for the stal­warts of the two rul­ing par­ties - PML-N and PPP - in the last three decades.All state in­sti­tu­tions were de­stroyed and mer­ci­lessly abused to fill the cof­fers of the rul­ing elite. Bud­gets were al­lo­cated to mega projects for quick kick­backs, while peo­ple's ba­sic needs - health, ed­u­ca­tion, jobs, hous­ing - were badly ne­glected. Agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion stag­nated and the wheels of in­dus­try ground to a halt due to un­af­ford­able cost of do­ing busi­ness. Ex­ports plum­meted and for­eign in­vestors stopped com­ing to Pak­istan.

From a larger per­spec­tive, the vote for PTI is a vote against the stink­ing, anti-peo­ple sta­tus quo which ben­e­fited only a few thousand po­lit­i­cal fam­i­lies and their hang­ers-on. In the 2018 elec­tions, for the first time in our 70-year his­tory, peo­ple were of­fered a cred­i­ble al­ter­na­tive in the form of PTI and the vot­ers went for it and re­jected both PML-N and PPP rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of the rich and the pow­er­ful classes.An out­stand­ing fea­ture of the vote in the 2018 elec­tions is the whole­sale re­jec­tion of all the big names which have dom­i­nated na­tional pol­i­tics in the last few decades. These in­clude, among oth­ers, As­fand­yar Wali Khan, Maulana Fa­zlur Rehman, JI chief Si­ra­jul Haq and many prom­i­nent lead­ers of PML-N and PPP. Equally im­por­tant is the fact that PTI won as many as 14 seats in Karachi, show­ing the vot­ing pref­er­ence of the Muha­jir mid­dle class now to­tally dis­il­lu­sioned with the MQM brand of pol­i­tics.

The chal­lenges be­fore the new na­tional lead­er­ship are many and com­plex. The first and fore­most is the econ­omy which is in a mori­bund state. It is over­bur­dened with debt so much so that it is not pos­si­ble to make re­pay­ments with­out procur­ing more loans. The fis­cal deficit is un­man­age­able and the gap be­tween im­ports and ex­ports has reached a his­toric high - around $35 bil­lion. Our tax-to-GDP ra­tio at about 8.5-9 per cent is one of the low­est in the world. State run en­ti­ties like PIA, the PSM and power dis­tri­bu­tion com­pa­nies cause around an es­ti­mated loss of Rs3 tril­lion an­nu­ally. Our public ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is in the worst shape com­pared to other South Asian coun­tries, while the health ser­vices are in a sham­bles.

Im­ran Khan's speech af­ter the elec­tion vic­tory showed he is fully aware of the ex­i­gen­cies of the sit­u­a­tion, spe­cially the need for na­tional unity to over­come eco­nomic chal­lenges and bridge the po­lit­i­cal and so­cial di­vide. Po­lit­i­cal foes point to Im­ran Khan's lim­i­ta­tions as a per­son and a leader such as his lack of ad­min­is­tra­tive and par­lia­men­tary ex­pe­ri­ence and his in­abil­ity to pay at­ten­tion to de­tails, his in­con­sis­tent de­ci­sion-mak­ing and poor man­age­ment skills and, last but not the least, his de­pen­dence on electa­bles and fat cats with a du­bi­ous past.But all said, Im­ran Khan's heart and in­ten­tions are on the right side. His ba­sic hon­esty and sin­cer­ity to serve the peo­ple can­not be ques­tioned. Out of power, Im­ran Khan built world class hos­pi­tals and uni­ver­si­ties. In power he can surely do much more for the peo­ple of Pak­istan.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.