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Democracy Politics

One Year Of PTI Govt: A ‘Messiah’ Who Didn’t Deliver

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The Imran Khan government began with even better support than two of his predecessors — Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972, and Nawaz Sharif in 1990 – as all powerful state institutions were on his side, opposition was reluctant to agitate and a large part of the affluent middle class saw him as a saviour, said Harris Khalique in an article written for DW.

According to the writer, although the 2018 general elections were marred by the accusations of pre-poll manipulation and vote-rigging, those who understood that a nascent democracy constrained by a colonial structure would stumble before finding its feet were willing to give Pakistan’s new democratic dispensation a serious chance.

Even the main opposition parties were cautious and feared that their non-cooperation could have brought an end to the democratic order altogether.

For some, he was the best option, while others saw him as a messiah. His victory was the triumph of Pakistan’s self-righteous and self-serving affluent urban middle class. They were aided internationally by a well-meaning but naive diaspora, and domestically by the leadership of the politically dominating and psychologically impatient judiciary and establishment.

The narrative was sold to the public for a “new idea of Pakistan” could be summarised as a corruption-free economy and a justly governed country. But one year on, all the promises made for improving the economy and governance unfulfilled, the path forward seems to have been lost as well.

About the tall claims, the writer says the PTI’s rhetoric about curbing corruption and ending financial debt was turned upside down sooner than imagined. The cluelessness, and therefore poor performance of PTI’s economic managers appointed at the outset, brought their unceremonious ouster within months. And the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not only put more pressure on the government, it also meant the IMF could exercise more control over Pakistan’s financial decision-making. It did stop here as there is

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And what the country has is a stifled growth, devalued currency, markets losing their trust, hyper-inflation, unprecedented hike in power and gas prices with a sharp decline in incomes of middle, lower middle and working class, major cuts in spending on health and education, and alarming rise in public debt.

On the foreign policy front, Imran Khan’s government is finding it hard to create a balance between the US and China for its own benefit. The results are: uncertainty about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the US seems to be reluctant in offering any substantial support unless Pakistan fulfils the role Washington envisages for it in the ongoing Afghan peace process.

Moreover, bending over backwards to woo Saudi Arabia and the UAE too didn’t produce any dividends, as shown by the Arab countries’ response to India’s recent annexation of the Jammu and Kashmir.

But what Imran Khan’s government and its backers in the establishment have successfully done over the past year is to systematically curb political dissent and constrain freedom of the mainstream media.

After a turbulent year, Imran Khan’s government needs is a critical introspection in order to fundamentally alter its economic policies, better management of foreign relations with a long-term vision with a balance between global powers to Pakistan’s advantage, and appreciating the importance of civil and political rights and respect for the freedom of expression.

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