In his right hand a tiny brown tasbeeh, talking to two of his senior party members, on his face was a smile that was pure happiness, unadulterated satisfaction. It said that he was one step closer. To bringing an end to the ‘other’-ing of the people of his country, to diminishing the decades-long alienation of those whose lives and resources were exploited in ways more than one without the hope of being allowed to utilise their fundamental right of existence of a life of dignity and security, without the glimmer of recompense for injustices aplenty, without the expectation of even gratitude for the sacrifice, big and small, every day of their lives had been.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s happy smiles appear when he has fulfilled another one of his promises to the people of Pakistan.
On Monday, May 13, 2019, the National Assembly of Pakistan, unanimous, in a rare show of parliamentarian unity, approved the 26th Constitution Amendment Bill, which recommends an increase in the number of seats for the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the National Assembly and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. Since the inception of the present National Assembly in August 2018, this is the first amendment in the Constitution that has approved by a united parliament.
Prime Minister Khan addressed the parliament: “The economic situation is bad and their [provinces] funds are not at the level that they should be, but I think it [sharing funds with ex-FATA] is necessary because the kind of destruction caused in FATA – due to the war against terrorism, the damage done there – KP could never cover that damage from its own development fund. A big accident, the separation of East Pakistan, led to a sense of deprivation among the people. All of Pakistan should learn a lesson from that. No one should feel that Pakistan does not own them, that they do not have a stake in Pakistan. This sense of deprivation is dangerous as it can be exploited by Pakistan’s enemies and it is being exploited. Development should always be inclusive. Areas that are left behind should also be brought up.”
Amidst noise in media of politicians of opposition parties, mainly the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz and Pakistan People’s Party, amplified by empty arguments of talk show hosts who beyond their journalistic responsibility and ethics assuming the role of a spokesperson of a political party parrot on loop the narratives that have little or no worth beyond political whataboutery, blame-shirking and blame-shifting, there is Khan, quietly and steadily, doing what he promised to do before and after becoming the prime minister of a Pakistan that teeters on the precipice of an economic disaster of proportions unseen.
Being neither an expert on economics of a country of 120 million people nor an apologist for missteps of the ruling party, what I know and what I comment on is what I see. There is inflation that affects the masses, the middle class, the millions whose irregular or steady incomes do not grow but their expenses like their despair do. There may be rise in taxes that would burden those who already exist, barely and badly, within means that turn them into uneasy insomniacs at night after a pollution-covered, toiled-for-nothing day. There may not be enough jobs for the many who study for years in bad schools and colleges, motivated by the prospect of a bright tomorrow lit up in white by an energy-saving LED bulb, a life beyond their sewer-lined streets, and a dream that fades a tad dimmer every day when life slams its door on them, loud, final. Things are bad, and they will remain bad for a while. That is an irrefutable fact, and no amount of gloss would hide the bleakness of Pakistan’s economy circa May 2019.
What is also undeniable is that Prime Minister Khan will do what it takes, with perseverance, study of different ideas, application of the best-available model, to steer Pakistan out of the mess his government inherited in August 2019.
The present economic and other disasters are not Khan’s doing, and no amount of political wise cracks, mockery, distortion of facts and name-calling of Khan in media by members of the previous ruling parties will camouflage that big, uncomfortable reality whose effects are as dire as the political future of most of the self-entitled political elite of Pakistan.
A better Pakistan for all
What Khan has is time, and what he needs to do will not happen overnight. I do not fully understand the nitty-gritty of how to improve the economy, or the short and long term implications of the multi-billion dollar loan of an international lending agency, or the micro and macro taxation and expenditure policies that add to the misery of the underprivileged, the barely-privileged, or the Khan government going back on its pre-and-during-election proclamations of never going to the IMF, or being forced to copy or continue fiscal decisions of the previous governments.
What I know as a Pakistani who loves her country without any ifs and buts, and for whom the pain of each Pakistani is never to be taken as nothing, that for once we have a leader who will do his best to turn the financial fortunes of Pakistan around for better. That the financial burden on people that feels like a stab of a dagger at the moment is nothing but a surgical incision made with care and empathy to take out the poisonous elements from the suffering body. That be it a bailout package of the IMF, a tax amnesty scheme, more taxation, inflated prices of everyday goods and basic utilities, and tightened budgets of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and federal ministries and governmental departments, all steps taken by Khan’s government work on one simple premise: a better tomorrow for ALL Pakistanis.
What I also know beyond my never-ending optimism in the promise of my beloved country and the dedication of my prime minister to prevail is something that I’ve observed over the years when Khan was fighting to be heard, and now when he is the prime minister. It is a phenomenon as rare as the blooming of a Rothschild slipper orchid.
Khan unlike most other leaders of Pakistan do not have agendas of strengthening of personal power, accumulation of wealth and dynastic political hegemony that are dry-cleaned to nobility in half-baked plans of development of Pakistan. Khan does not have an agenda or a plan that is about Khan.
And that is what made me believe in the leadership of Khan for years, it is what motivated me to vote for him in 2013 and 2018, and it is what would make voting for Khan in 2023 a choice as easy as punching these words: all Imran Khan the prime minister does, despite apparent non-functioning of policies, ‘U-turns’, implementation hiccups, operational obstacles and occasional failures, is for the short and long term good of Pakistan. All Imran Khan the prime minster does and will do is for Pakistan that is glorious and is for all.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is all for Pakistan, today, tomorrow.
That I know.
- Prime Minister Khan will do what it takes to steer Pakistan out of the mess his government inherited in August 2019
- What Khan has is time, and what he needs to do will not happen overnight
- Khan unlike most other leaders of Pakistan do not have agendas of strengthening of personal power
- Khan does not have an agenda or a plan that is about Khan
The article written by Mehr Tarar was first published in Gulf News
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