On Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan dropped a few bombs of reality that would certainly be recalled for days to come by both his voters and political rivals. Mr. Khan spoke at an event where, for the next year, he asked his cabinet to sign a ‘efficiency pact’ with the objective that his ministers would deliver in the timeframe prior to the next election.
Mr Khan encouraged his ministers, as “the time for performance has come,” to deliver on core promises. He also acknowledged that he had little time to prepare until he took office, and that his first three months had been spent on learning the state of affairs in the world.
We no longer have an argument because we are young and learning when, for the first time, most of us come to power,” he added.” This admission by a sitting prime minister halfway through his tenure, while no doubt well intentioned, is very disturbing.
Over the last two years, the world has experienced several crises. From an economy in a downward spiral and a near war with India through the Covid-19 pandemic and the wheat, sugar and electricity crises, the problems have had real consequences for millions of people.
For the prime minister to admit that his government was getting acquainted with governance is a criticism of the leadership’s hold on the country’s affairs against the context of at least four cabinet reshuffles with one as recent as this month.
When lives and livelihoods are at risk, before taking on the problems, should a government be given more than a few weeks of adjustment? Since assuming office in August 2018, the moment for the new government to start delivering should have been very fast. Successive regimes blame the mess they have inherited on previous dispensations.
This government is no different, with the 18th Amendment heaping the blame on the prime minister. Again, the fact is that the reach of the centre’s forces are not fresh ideas and should not surprise an incoming head of government or his staff. It may, in truth, be asked why no report of results was signed in the year the government was returned to office.
Democracy officials will still do better to head into the new year, focusing on their opposition alliance. There is no question that the latter made politics more challenging for the new authorities, but if the government had developed less acrimonious relations with the opposition, the challenge may have been less daunting.
It is also about time that the prime minister tackled disagreements within the PTI, which have too frequently spilled over into the public domain. Public admission of the teething problems of the government is not going to encourage confidence, but the trick may be to step up to the plate and put in a successful show.