- Mostly of its own making
Although the government has defeated the opposition and managed to pass the Finance Bill 2020 in the National Assembly, it has not been an easy task. The political atmosphere surrounding the Budget has been tense as allies of the ruling party demanded their pound of flesh to support a government that has been looking weary and in disarray for months, given the multifarious problems it faces, most of which are of its own making. Allied parties who have been ignored by the Prime Minister for the past two years have evidently had enough and started to jump ship, with the BNP(M) bowing out of the coalition and others waiting in the wings. A reconciliatory dinner for parliamentarians had to be hosted by the PM to remove grievances but it will perhaps take more than that to smooth things over, a message that the Chaudhries of the PML(Q) conveyed through their absence. Pacifying the allies might be possible through various tools at the government’s disposal but placating a severely angry populace that is facing economic hardship is going to be tougher, especially considering how their problems are being unnecessarily compounded. It seems whatever this government focuses its attention on turns into a larger problem than it was to begin with. The sugar and wheat shortage probe has so far resulted in zero arrests and prices in the market remain rigidly high. The ‘petrol mafia’ that had created a shortage a few weeks back was supposed to be taken to task and an inquiry was launched against OMCs (Oil Marketing Companies). Instead, they got exactly what they were demanding through their blackmailing tactics as the government increased the price of petrol by a whopping Rs. 26 before any revision was even due.
International humiliation has now been added to the mix. While presenting the PIA crash report in the National Assembly, Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar revealed that close to 262 pilots, most of who fly for the national carrier, held dubious licenses. An internal investigation and action before publicly disclosing such damaging information would have been more appropriate. Meanwhile, PM Imran Khan labeled Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden a martyr on the same Assembly floor and has so far offered no real clarification personally, just the usual ‘slip of tongue’ excuses from his many spokespersons. The PM and his team keep coming off as a clueless collection of novices despite having all the support and advantages past governments could only dream of. It is high time they find their footing.