The past year has been quite happening when it comes to the political affairs of the country. As the year ends, it calls for a discussion of the failings of the ruling party which came to power on the basis of rhetoric that portrayed the coming of a utopian era. Here are five times the PTI government failed to deal with important issues.
The extension of the army chief
On November 21, the Prime Minister’s Office had confirmed the extension of Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa along with appointing Lieutenant General Nadeem Raza as the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, months after an earlier notification in August in this regard. The Supreme Court subsequently suspended the notification extending the tenure of the army chief, while raising issue with the legality of the issued notification.
The mishandling of the issue even received severe criticism from members of the ruling party, with party members saying that the law ministry had brought shame to the party. Later, the Supreme Court gave an extension of six months to army chief, while making it conditional to legislation on the matter. Recently, Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem revealed that the notifications regarding the army chief’s extension was not even prepared by the law ministry.
Nawaz Sharif’s bail
At the end of October, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was granted bail for eight weeks on medical grounds. However, the federal government did not give the former premier unconditional permission to go abroad, and decided that he could go abroad provided that he submitted a financial guarantee.
The government’s decision received criticism from various quarters, not just based on the legal, but also the moral aspects of not allowing a sick patient to go abroad for treatment. Later, the Lahore High Court directed the federal government to remove the condition of furnishing an indemnity bond.
Before the Musharraf high treason verdict was given, the government filed a petition requesting the court to delay the verdict, arguing that the Musharraf had been singled out and had not received a fair trial. The petition gave the impression that the government was sympathising with Musharraf. This view was supplemented by the fact that the prime minister’s cabinet consisted of members of the former dictator’s government, and that the government was trying to protect him.
Pakistan’s pulling out of Kuala Lumpur Summit on Saudi pressure
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Muhammad had extended an invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan to participate in a Malaysia summit in Kuala Lumpur which was to be held from December 18 to December 21. Imran Khan, after having accepted the invitation, pulled out of the summit at the summit, reportedly under pressure from Saudi crown prince Muhammad Bin Salman. This despite the fact that the Pakistan’s foreign office had advised the PM not to accept the invitation in the first place – an advice he chose to ignore. Observers reacted to the development saying that it was a foreign policy disaster on Pakistan’s part that was clearly avoidable.
Following the incident, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said that it would have been good if Prime Minister Imran Khan had attended the Kuala Lumpur Summit in Malaysia. On the other hand, Malaysian premier Mahatir Muhammad had expressed regret over Imran Khan not being able to attend the summit.
Shuffling of the cabinet
In April 2019, PTI leader Asad Umar, who had been touted as having all the solutions for Pakistan’s economic ills, quit as the finance minister. Hours later, the prime minister made a major reshuffle in the cabinet, making changes to eight major portfolios. This was particularly embarrassing as the PTI had not even completed one year in government. A newcomer to the prime minister’s team was Dr Hafeez Shaikh, who would later on say that tomatoes were available for only Rs17 in the fruit and vegetable markets. The shuffle also changed the portfolio of key federal ministers like Fawad Chaudhry, and brought in former Musharraf’s director general of Intelligence Bureau as the interior minister. The decision did not only receive criticism as it brought two people close to former president Pervez Musharraf – Ijaz Shah and Hafeez Shaikh – but also because, as observers stated, the important state positions were changed as if it was a Cricket team.