- PM must take charge
Prime Minister Imran Khan must learn from the latest meeting of the Federal Cabinet that food inflation is a serious problem for the government, and that his excuse that his orders are not being implemented will not wash. The Cabinet meeting’s tenor should have made him realize that the wheat and sugar crises are not causing worries among backbench rowdies in the PTI parliamentary party, but also among the members of the Cabinet itself. If his claims of having foreseen the shortage and of having ordered imports are true, he should understand that this only raises questions about why he is unable to get his orders implemented. The only charitable explanation is that offered by the opposition narrative that he is only a front for forces that have selected him. However, if that is the case, it still does not explain why he accepts such a position of powerlessness.
In principle, no official who dares act against the will of the Prime Minister should be left to boast of his temerity. If indeed his orders were not obeyed at any stage, he should remove those responsible, no matter how highly placed they might be. Mr Khan is engaged on a difficult task, and he does not need to fail in the transformation of the entire society because of entirely avoidable food inflation.
If his orders were indeed disobeyed, Mr Khan should also think of the consequences for his drive against corruption. The opposition narrative of an incompetent administrator has gained much strength from the failure of the National Accountability Bureau to obtain evidence against the PML(N) leaders whose alleged malfeasances the PTI had campaigned on. Mr Khan needs to determine to what extent his own lack of administrative experience, and that of his colleagues, has contributed to this, as well as to the food inflation which the opposition is busy exploiting. He might not have noticed, though others have, that one person is responsible for both, Accountability Adviser Shehzad Akbar, whose failure to implement the government’s own wheat and sugar commission’s recommendations led to the present crisis, and whose failure in the accountability drive is an open book, despite his tall claims at longwinded press conferences.