Imran Khan talks sense
TALKING to media persons on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan ruled out any possibility of a presidential system in the country, saying no contemplation has gone into such an idea. He added that there was a need for experts to extricate the country from the economic morass; which was the reason unelected people were inducted in his cabinet. By raising false alarm about undoing the 18th Amendment and introduction of presidential system, opposition parties especially PPP and PML-N are trying to divert the attention of the masses from corruption, ineptness and flawed policies of their leaders that have brought the country to the present pass. It goes without saying that PTI does not have two-thirds majority to amend the Constitution; and for replacing parliamentary system with presidential system almost the entire constitution will have to be re-written. According to constitutional experts, only Constituent Assembly is mandated to write the Constitution.
A political party is defined as an organised group of people with similar political aims and objectives stipulated in their manifestoes. Since the leadership of major political parties revolved around the founder or his family members, Pakistan could not get second and third tiers of leadership. As a matter of fact, ruling classes comprising jagirdars, members of bureaucracy and comprador industrialists ruled the country under different denominations since inception of Pakistan. And Imran Khan has been able to make a dent in dynastic politics. According to Hegel, a leader has to be conversant with – rather in harmony with – the spirit of the age. A real leader is a master strategist and a great tactician, who blends pragmatism with idealism to achieve a better life for its people. Leadership is described as poetry; and its composition depends more on natural instincts and knowledge of an individual and less on his training.
Being a legend, a social service icon and a political leader in his own right, people voted for Imran Khan’s Party and made him Prime Minister of Pakistan. It was a miracle that PTI emerged as the single largest Party in 2018 elections. During PML-N tenure reformative interest palpably motivated solely by rabid political grouses of oligarchs holding the nation’s entire politics in their avaricious grab was aimed at strengthening up the election process in accordance with their mutually-acceptable criteria and standards for their greater mutual satisfaction. Nothing had it to do with mass of the people, without whose empowerment and real enfranchisement democracy is neither conceivable nor any democracy project worth the name be visualised without uplift of the disempowered and the disenfranchised. Not to speak of the rural citizenry living in servitude of jagirdars, waderas and sardars, even the commoner cannot think of getting into an electoral contest.
Look at the economic situation left by the PML-N government. External debt and liabilities of Pakistan mounted to $99.1 billion as of December 2018, according to the central bank. Statistics released by the central bank showed that by the end of first half of the current fiscal year, the country’s total debt and liabilities soared to Rs.33.23 trillion. Pakistan’s total debt and liabilities are now equal to 86.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP), which is a quite high ratio and is considered unsustainable for the country. Only to service the public debt, the government has to allocate 36% of the total budget. Last year, imports were around $ 58 bn and exports only $ 22 bn; hence trade deficit of $ 36 bn. After taking into consideration remittances of $20 bn by Pakistani expatriates, current account deficit was $16 bn, which was not sustainable.
On fiscal side, the deficit ran into Rs 1600 bn. In supplementary budget, gas tariff had been increased, but the government should not further increase electricity tariff which will result in higher cost of production and increase in general price level. Pakistan faces economic challenges from fiscal deficit to trade deficit to current account deficit, and challenges of unemployment and poverty alleviation. Pakistan was on the verge of default; and it was because of Imran Khan’s stature and credibility as an honest politician and also due to military’s relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE that they gave loans/deposits in the State Bank to salvage Pakistan. Imran Khan has been able to make dent in dynastic politics, which is obvious from reorganization of the PML-N recently whereby many important slots have been given to the members outside the Sharif family.
This scribe was member of Central Executive Committee and elected Central Finance Secretary from 1999 to 2004, and privy to Imran Khan’s integrity, his steadfastness, his determination and also his vision. To support Pervez Musharraf in the referendum was decided by majority of the central executive members. This scribe was part of the team that met General Pervez Musharraf on his invitation. During the meeting, General Pervez Musharraf had asked Imran Khan to enter into alliance with the PML-Q, but Khan refused because of tarnished image of that Party leadership. General then suggested him to join alliance led by Farooq Ahmed Leghari, to which Khan refused. General Musharraf said Khan Sahib “would you like to have a solo flight”, to which Imran Khan replied “you provide a level playing field and stop propping PML-Q, and then see who is more popular”. And in 2018 elections, Imran Khan proved his point.