Old PTI needed to build Naya Pakistan

The secret is the paperwork

With its Shadow Cabinet and functional Think Tanks, the Old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was well prepared to build Naya Pakistan through good governance. The mammoth public support at the Lahore Jalsa on 30 October 2011 sent shock waves to the forces of status quo. At this takeoff stage, the party came under attack from the evergreen  electables. On the second show of strength on 25 December 2011 at the Mazar-e-Quaid the old party guard had been relegated to the lower stage while Imran Khan (IK) was surrounded by new players on the main stage. There were clear signs that the movement had been hijacked. Comrade Ahsan Rashid the Chou-En-Lai of the party had arranged a lavish after-Jalsa dinner at the Sheraton Hotel which proved to be the proverbial ‘Last Supper’ for the PTI ideologues who had worked hard to build the party into a formidable movement which could no longer be ignored.

Let’s move outside the box but only after exploring the options within; the party homework can be put to good use this time around to deliver the much needed change through good governance. New players and a fresh start have to be made

The PTI was denied election victory in the disputed 2013 electoral contest. It was made to wait for another term before coming into power in 2018 at the centre, Punjab and KPK. Despite popular support IK had to form coalition governments both in Islamabad and Lahore. It is indeed interesting to note that only the PML(N) was able to manage an absolute majority not once but twice ( 1997, 2013 ), clearly indicating its proximity with the establishment, while both the PTI and the PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) were denied this support.

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IK came into power surrounded by age-old tested and failed electables. The Shadow Cabinet, which was a blend of highly qualified technocrats and clean political players, was largely ignored. The selection of the PSPM (Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister) was also imprudent, as it was an extension of the Peshawar bureaucracy which lacked broader understanding at the national level.

The preparatory policy formulation by the Think Tanks was also binned as being impractical, prepared by ‘political novices’. The know-all and deliver-nothing electables were back in the saddle. While the leader tried his best, the managers lacked the spirit to fight for change by taking-on the forces of status quo.

In order to deliver change one has to rely on out-of-the-box solutions, but before venturing out of the system, its inside has to be fully understood. Decisions are reached on the files for which documentation and paperwork is required, which is in control of the bureaucrats who are champions of the status quo. Most political players are weak in this area.

Over the years, established political parties have reached an understanding to operate within the system for mutual benefits with the policy of; ‘You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ with no concern for public interests .

In 1971 when Bhutto came into power, the PPP was well prepared for the much-needed change through good governance. Several age-old colonial roadblocks were removed. The right to travel was recognised with major reforms in the Passport Directorate. For purposes of identification a ‘National Identity Card’ scheme was introduced which was later computerized under NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority). A generic medicine scheme was introduced to lower the cost of medicines. It was the brainchild of ‘Baba-e-Socialism’, Sheikh Rashid of Lahore. Recently the same approach has been adopted in India under Narendra Modi.

When the police force decided to go on strike in Punjab and Frontier ( KPK now ) they were handled with an iron hand. In the 1973 Constitution several clauses of human rights were legislated which remain un-implemented till today. Within the party there was a blend of political players and techniocrats. Bhutto himself understood the system and the required paperwork.

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Like Bhutto’s PPP, the PTI was also well prepared for good governance through a blend of clean political players and technocrats. In the 1970s ‘Bhutto’s Challenge’ was not ‘taken seriously by the establishment but after the show of strength by PTI in October 2011 no chances were taken this time.

Old tainted players or electables’ were inducted in droves pushing the party ideologues and technocrats aside. Over the years these political bounty hunters have been pushed out of the party but some still remain in close proximity to the Chairman. In the recently held local body elections in Sindh, Firdous Shamim Naqvi ( FSN ), an old party guard, prevailed against all odds. The PTI of post-October 2011 has to be restored/revived together with its Think Tanks with serious review of policies painfully formulated by experts. The party is blessed with leadership but needs good managers of the likes of Comrade Ahsan Rashid ( late ) and Naeem-ul-Haq ( late ). Dr Arif Alvi also played an important role within the party as Secretary General but was cornered like several other genuine old party players.

IK has talked about the need for structural changes in the system of governance. Technocrats have to replace the outdated bureaucrats. Pakistan also faces serious economic challenges. Focus has to be on ‘Food and Fuel’. Both areas need a major focus and an effective road map to move forward with indigenous resources. As an agricultural country food security can be ensured. With huge deposits of Coal (175 billion tons), energy needs can be met with application of 21st century environment-friendly technologies. While exports have to be increased, the import bill must also be drastically reduced to narrow the trade deficit. Austerity measures are also required to cut down state expenses.

Yes, let’s move outside the box but only after exploring the options within; the party homework can be put to good use this time around to deliver the much needed change through good governance. New players and a fresh start have to be made.

Dr Farid A Malik
Dr Farid A Malikhttps://www.pakistantoday.com.pk
The writer is ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be contacted at: [email protected].


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