- Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold
The PTI leadership is obsessed with the idea of punishing the corrupt. While the NAB proceeds with the exercise, the government needs to concentrate on a whole gamut of highly vital national issues that remain unattended. The way Prime Minister Imran Khan continues to talk ad nauseam, at home and abroad, about not giving an NRO to any politician indicates that for him more important national issues do not matter.
Governance takes a back seat under the PTI administration. The treatment meted out to some of the top Punjab bureaucrats by NAB, followed by frequent transfers of DCs, SPs and administrative secretaries on the demand of PTI MPAs, has sent a wave of fear among the bureaucracy leading it to go on what amounts to a virtual pen down strike. NEPRA has also expressed serious concerns over the role assumed by the NAB in questioning tariff determinations of almost all projects. Investigations being conducted by NAB, it complains, had completely stifled the morale of the regulator’s professionals.
The police remains as inefficient and unresponsive as ever as illustrated by the Sahiwal police encounter that killed a family, and several custodial killings this month followed by the tragic episode in Kasur. Nothing has been done to implement the promised police reforms. The crimes graph is therefore on the increase.
Parliament continues to be neglected by the PTI. Instead of running the National Assembly by developing normal working relations with the opposition, the policy is to browbeat it by recourse to unparliamentary language and violation of parliamentary practices like issuance of production orders of opposition MNAs in custody. With the opposition pushed to the wall the government may not be able to seek its help in passing laws needed to implement some of the tasks assigned it by the IMF.
With the country’s bureaucracy along with professionals in key autonomous bodies thoroughly demoralised and government not on talking terms with the opposition, much is at risk for the government and the country. Among other things it could hinder the decisive implementation of the IMF programme that is considered critical to pave the way for stronger and sustainable growth. This could lead the IMF mission scheduled to return in late October dissatisfied.