By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
June 9, 2019
When the Chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was leading the sit-in in Islamabad in 2015, he was also envisioning himself as the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. His party members and supporters from across the country were also expecting him to win the 2018 general elections. Once Imran Khan took oath as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan, he promised to take Pakistan into a new direction and emphasized on the term ‘Naya Pakistan’ (New Pakistan) which he coined during the days leading to the 2018 elections. He opined that people from the world will come to Pakistan for jobs and that the country will become a model for the world.
During the past nine months, Imran Khan’s pledges have either become false promises or his statements have been termed as invalid. Moreover, Imran Khan’s assurance of never to take financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was also sent down the drain when his government received a $6 billion relief fund from the IMF.
Imran Khan took command of Pakistan at a time when the country was going through its absolute worst socio-economic period. This, however, has been a result of the former government’s policies and strategies and with a number of military rules that hampered the true growth of democracy. And if Imran Khan had taken the trust of the people of Pakistan by making all those promises during the post-election campaigns ahead of the 2018 elections, it is now time he started delivering them. What Imran Khan did was take his followers and the country at large towards a state of illusion where every field was green, the sky was blue and everyone was in bliss. This bubble of illusion burst and during the last nine months, the financial conditions have worsened at an alarming rate.
Imran Khan’s case is similar to that of US President Donald Trump. Both came to power without any experience of handling political offices and therefore do not have the appropriate acumen to lead the country. Imran Khan, however, delivers speeches backed by facts and figures but a country does not move forward on mere speeches but on actions that bring positive results affecting the sectors of a country. Being a populist leader most of Imran Khan’s supporters follow him because of his one-time action of winning the Cricket World Cup in 1992. Politics is not and can never be like cricket. Politics demands maturity, seriousness and dedication to think, act and deliver. However, credit must be given to Imran Khan for his philanthropic activities and for not involving himself in corruption. He did achieve a superstar status both in cricket and in politics, which speaks volumes of his die-hard and often times cult-following. He is charming and elegant, he talks sense and he is a people’s man. Yet, the pledge that he has taken to bring Pakistan out of its many predicaments is nothing short of an impossible task.
Before his election as the premier, the country wondered if he would become the Prime Minister. Now that he is, they wonder if he can effectively lead the country. Perhaps Imran Khan can lead Pakistan. However, does he possess his predecessors’ shrewdness and cleverness, sharpness and acuity, perspicacity and sagacity? While his predecessors saw and capitalized on loopholes and twisted the rules to get the nasty work done that tarnished the country’s socio-economic, political and financial state-of-affairs, Imran Khan too needs to develop such traits to undo what has been done.
While inflation and petrol prices have reached sky high, the lower-middle class has not much to do but to survive and if the same trend continues, the middle class would also need to rethink their personal budgets and enter into the survival mode. In May 2019, Imran Khan said that the next two months will be difficult and assured that the economic conditions will improve and the world will cite our example. I humbly beg to differ. We, as a nation, have been brought into this mess because we elected an inexperienced yet an honest man as the Prime Minister who is fond of taking U-turns and will need one complete term in office just to pinpoint the challenges that must be addressed so that the repair work can begin. Until then, hope is our only friend and the 2019-2020 budget will be nothing short of another economic nightmare for the masses.
Muhammad Omar Iftikhar is an independent researcher, author and columnist