Even as Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, embarked on a desperate mission to Riyadh to mend ties with Saudi Arabia in the wake of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s verbal transgressions, the Imran Khan government this week marked two years in office with the Prime Minister claiming he was locked in a struggle to make his country a welfare state and the Opposition terming his reign an “unmitigated disaster.”
Certainly, Mr Khan’s term in office has provided adequate ammunition to his detractors, although the un-chastened Mr Qureshi seemed ~ even after his threat to Saudi Arabia on calling an OIC meeting backfired badly ~ to blame “eternal enemy” India for most of the country’s woes. The criticisms voiced by the two main Opposition parties ~ the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan Peoples’ Party ~ merit consideration for there can be little cavil with the allegations that the country today is mired in debt and largely isolated in the international arena.
The ballooning inflation that grips the country ~ the PPP has referred to it as a tsunami unleashed on the people ~ and the massive loss of face and revenue caused to the national airline after a federal minister accused it of rostering unlicensed pilots are disasters that certainly cannot be blamed on an enemy, eternal or new. A spokesperson of the PML(N) said, “The point of economic disaster, poverty and hunger this government has brought the people to in the last two years does not have an example in history. They started with a 90-day plan then a 100-day plan, then a year and now two years have been completed and not even one promise or commitment has been fulfilled.
The present government is still lying about each promise and taking U-turns on each commitment.” A tracker maintained by a prominent newspaper on its website shows that of the 51 promises Mr Khan made as part of his “Naya Pakistan” initiative, only one has thus far been fulfilled and five have been partly fulfilled. On the other hand, GDP growth has stuttered, unemployment has risen sharply and prominent cities such as Karachi have witnessed mismanagement on a massive scale.
Mr Khan though appeared to justify his stewardship by claiming in an interview given on the occasion that the last two years were spent in trying to understand the challenges Pakistan faced and in trying to “change its path towards what it was originally made for, a welfare state.”
He blamed his country’s woes on the elite who he said had captured most privileges, a prescription that may well be valid considering that Pakistan’s elite largely comprises the military but about which Mr Khan can do little. While charges and counter-charges are par for the course, about one fact there can be little disagreement ~ 73 years after its birth, the Pakistan of Jinnah’s dreams lies in tatters.