Imran Khan (IK), the 22nd Prime Minister (PM) of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, recently admitted in one of his speeches that he fully understood the ground realities after coming into power. He used the words ‘Hiran Kun Masail’ (mind-boggling problems). Indeed, the land of the pure today faces a myriad of problems. Since July 1977, it has been downhill, no one has been able to reverse the decline. Most vital institutions are non-functional and a burden on the exchequer. Due to this lack of output of the state apparatus, even pension bills are out of reach. My friend Shahid Kardar, hit the nail on the head when he suggested that all expensive imports should be stopped with immediate effect. Productivity is a ratio between output and inputs; for long term sustainability the two must track each other. Lower output calls for a cut back of inputs together with a re-prioritisation of resources. Yes, the exports have to go up but that takes time and long-term efforts—imports can be cut back right away.
It has been reported that the Chinese Ambassador remarked that Pakistan should stop blaming the Americans, it is Japan which has taken us for a ride. Pakistan has been assembling Japanese cars for the last fifty years with very poor deletion. No locally-made car is in the market. In the first decade of the century, 500 locally-manufactured automobiles were introduced in the market under the brand name of Adam Revo, manufactured by Adam Motors Pakistan. Feroz Khan, a US qualified mechanical engineer was the brains behind this venture. Shaukat Aziz the PM had promised to buy a few thousand of these cars to fully launch the product. When he was about to sign on the dotted line, the Japanese assemblers came in the way.
I am sure IK now realises that the ‘electables’ are the biggest impediment in the way of change followed by evergreen advisers who have delivered very little in the past. Several instances come to mind. Removing the walls of the Governor’s House Lahore was projected as a cake walk. IK repeated his firm resolve to tear down the walls while over ruling the inputs of the old party guard. As long as the Governor continues to occupy this princely residence, not a stone will be moved, moreover all the buildings on the Mall Road come under the ‘Preservation Act’. I grew up on the Mall and so did IK—our house was closer to the main road while his was further down the main road. He could tear down the house built by his father in Zaman Park while we could not. The government of Punjab could succeed in removing only a few bricks of the wall and the operation was legally stopped. It does not end here. The same misinformation was forwarded in case of the PM House in Islamabad. A research university was announced which remains on paper only. Historic buildings on the Mall have to be preserved while their use and occupants can change. The PM House is not even historic; I am not sure why it is being protected.
For ground realities to change we have to follow the Chinese approach. When Chris Patton, the last British Governor of Hong Kong left, the place was converted into a museum, no Chinese ever had the chance to live there. The Governor House Lahore, like Hong Kong is a relic of our colonial past which should be looked upon as a reminder of a painful era gone by. There has to be a complete break, otherwise we would continue to build such monstrosities such as the PM House in Islamabad. IK has made the right move by not moving into the official residence. The Governor also resides in his personal home in DHA Phase 5; his office can easily be shifted to the old Freemasons Hall down the road. The place can then be used as an academy to train legislators to improve their performance. Shutting down the Governor’s House is a better option than tearing down the walls, the same can be done with the PM House.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) did prepare the first 100-day plan but it was never intended to convey that the entire system would be set right in this period. Both in the political and the corporate world, people are trained to please the bosses. Our ‘electables’ also have mastery in this technique. While they have nothing to show as their past achievements yet, they manage to get access to the boss’ ear with pleasing voices that sound like music but lack substance. The people of Pakistan trust IK and want him to succeed but he has to understand the ground realities to be able to change them. The country continues to face ‘Hiran Kun Masail’ which the Kaptaan continues to face and fight but with a team that lacks both spirit and stamina. I am sure as a sportsman he understands the importance of both these vital traits to overcome the inertia that we face as a nation.