Change of guard | Pakistan Today

Change of guard

  • The reshuffle raises questions about the PM

Even before the PTI government assumed charge in the corridors of power, the supposed team with a plan was in place. Each department had a professional ready to deal with the respective predicaments, or so we were told. Asad Umar was to be the prince of the Finance Ministry and with his expertise in running a private company, was supposed to help us overcome our economic woes.

Months later, the finance expert has been shown the door based upon his performance which wasn’t up to the mark. A few other cabinet members have also been shuffled amidst the Asad Umar saga. Indeed, these steps cement the presence of a performance-based mechanism and a truer form of democracy as opposed to the past. The Prime Minister realises his mistakes and moves forward to rectify them.

To begin with, all these choices were cherrypicked by the Prime Minister himself. The country was told that Asad Umar was the best choice they had in these economically dark times. He was the knight in shining armour ready to steer the country out of its economic woes. Perhaps not. The finance expert, or so it was claimed, was sacked for failing to deliver. Similarly, a few other cabinet members also found themselves shuffled to other departments. Punjab is next, was the announcement made.

Talk of showing Usman Buzdar the door remained ripe throughout the weekend. His performance, as predicted by all, is not in accordance with the desired progress. However, realising a bad choice after eight months isn’t desirable either. What the PM needs to comprehend is that the days of practice matches are over. This is the real deal. Each day under the reign of an incompetent person is a day wasted, which damages the general public. Such decisions should have been made following considerable deliberations at the start. The PTI did come into power, but it appears as though they weren’t expecting to. Or even worse, never realised what the real deal would be like.

If poor performances are not to go unpunished, then it is only a matter of time when poor choices will receive the same fate too. In the end, all these people who are being shuffled owing to their respective performances were introduced by Imran Khan to begin with

Before 25 July 2018, all the PTI tigers had experience of was to organise protest rallies and make them more entertaining. Running a country, perhaps, seems to be an altogether different ball game. The performance so promised for years is nowhere to be seen. Yes, it has only been a few months since the PTI government settled in. With a wave of a wand, the dilemmas faced by the country are not going to vanish in thin air. Progress is going to take its due time. But what we can at the very least be shown is the right direction.

One would readily board a ship moving through turbulent waters, but sailing its way towards the right direction, as opposed to a ship with little knowledge of the route it has to take towards its final destination. The PTI government seems to be the latter.

Imran Khan fixated his mind on handpicked gentlemen for various departments. Though, it appears, the Captain did not have time to make back-up plans. In case of failure of any one of the team members, the replacements, it seems, were never discussed. That is probably why faces from the dreaded past have resurfaced and have found a place at the table again. Surely, whatever plans the PTI team had made prior to the match have failed to be implemented practically. The captain himself losing faith in his team members rings alarm bells.

In the days to come, a change in the power circles of Punjab would be more than welcome. With the current head of the province, the bureaucracy appears to be at a stand-still. Reports of rifts between ministers and their departmental secretaries surfaces every now and then. Amidst the power struggle, the people of our beloved country are made to suffer. The precious days in the Naya Pakistan are being wasted away with the promised prosperity not in sight. If the PM reaches the conclusion that Buzdar was indeed a mistake, then there is drastic need for self-assessment as well.

The entire trail leads back to Bani Gala. This is not a trial phase where the command of a department or a province is given to a person on trial basis and in case of failure thereof, he is shifted to the next. These trials take their toll on the citizens of the country and Imran Khan loses precious days in power. Back-tracking on his own appointments testifies the lack of preparedness the PTI government had when it assumed power. They may try to portray such decisions as the bedrock of a democratic setup where performance-based decisions are made. However, at the same time, it also reflects the incompetence of the decision makers to begin with.

If Hafeez Sheikh and Brig (r) Ijaz Shah are to be our saviours in these testing times, then I find little reason to criticise the PPP government and the Musharraf era with the latter’s team being in place in large numbers at the moment. The Naya Pakistan is forced to rely upon the old guard and seek its help. Let us hope the old guard can aid the Prime Minister towards the prosperous Pakistan he has promised.

If poor performances are not to go unpunished, then it is only a matter of time when poor choices will receive the same fate too. In the end, all these people who are being shuffled owing to their respective performances were introduced by Imran Khan to begin with. A cumulative assessment of the entire scenario would lead us to the irresistible conclusion that all these failures by different ministers are, in the end, directly attributed to the Prime Minister himself. He was the one who appointed the incompetent players. Merely sacking them wouldn’t be enough in the long run. The question that Imran Khan should be prepared to answer in the times to come stands: what would be the punishment for imposing the likes of Buzdar on the people, in the first place?