Like every government in the history of Pakistan, PTI government is claiming to achieve a lot in first two years of its rule. PTI government came into power on high hopes of change and reforms. The PTI leaders made tall claims of ‘Naya Pakistan’ and ‘Tabdeeli’. None of the major election promises and manifesto pledges so far been fulfilled by PTI government.
PTI leadership is not ready to accept the fact that it raised the hopes of the people unrealistically without realising the ground realities. It made unrealistic promises and pledges. Radical rhetoric was used without any concrete strategy and homework. It made promises that were not possible to fulfill in a declining economy.
There is huge gap between the performance of PTI government with its promises and high hopes. There is wide gap between statements and actions. The economic crisis is not over yet. The GDP growth rate is historically low at negative 0.4% (while World Bank and IMF estimate the growth rate at -1.4%). The inflation is still high. The exports haven’t been increased substantially. The current account deficit has dropped significantly but at a high cost of slowing the economy.
The biggest indicator of any government is the fact that whether the poor masses and working people are better off or worse. The matter of fact is that ordinary people has become worse off in last two years. The incomes of working people are declining. More people are living below the poverty line than before. More people are unemployed now than two years ago.
The Coronavirus played its part in increasing the poverty and unemployment and decreasing the incomes of people. But the matter of fact is that economy was facing recessionary conditions even before the outbreak of COVID-19. The coronavirus just made the matters worse.
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PTI leadership including PM Imran Khan considers good intension and personal honesty enough to bring change in the system. The leadership believed that good intension would solve many problems without realising the basic fact that good intension must be backed with concrete policies, strategy and measures.
PTI came with very strong promises of reform. It promised fundamental reforms in governance, provision of justice, equity and law and order and eradication of corruption. The PTI had promised major investments in human development, especially health, education and skill provision, housing and employment generation/creation.
The biggest disappointment about PTI government is that it failed to introduce promised reforms in police, judiciary, administration, criminal justice system and tax system. There is hardly any improvement in governance.
In Punjab the governance has become a major issue. The government continues to play musical chair with senior bureaucrats in the province. The corruption levels have not shown any change. The people are still forced to pay bribes to police and other government departments.
The elite capture continues as before; and the government seems almost powerless when it comes to dealing with entrenched interest groups. The sugar, wheat and petrol crises are clear examples of this trend. There is hardly any difference in economic policies of PTI government with previous governments of PML-N and PPP.
It is still pursuing the same neoliberal economic policies. And even after more than two years expenditure and/or budget priorities have not differed from previous governments at all and so all promises of housing, jobs, education, provision of skills, and healthcare have sounded hollow.
Like every government, PTI government minister told the people of Pakistan about their achievements and successes. PTI ministers and leaders are claiming that the economy is ready to take off again. The worst period is over and good time is around the corner.
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Sadly, these actions do not inspire the people on the streets who have undergone the worst kind of inflation, layoffs, shrinking income and depletion of savings in the last year.
The government ministers repeatedly told us that they inherited an outdated, corrupt, and unfair system based on nepotism two years ago. No doubt for the longest time Pakistanis had become accustomed to being ruled by an upper class that protected only its own interests. And slowly, in front of everybody’s eyes, much of the state’s structure crumbled away and the country fell into unsustainable debt all the while the elite enriched itself.
There has hardly been any indication of a turnaround in the things that matter the most, and much of the promises made by PTI on the campaign trail not only never came true but have been effectively abandoned in a wave of policy changes that famously came to be known as the PM’s U-turns.
Also, since the second anniversary of the new government falls near Eid, and prices are traditionally high and people are suffering, the most common theme that has emerged among the people is the government’s inability to even provide the basic necessities of life at stable prices. Other than that the low cost housing is still a distant dream, the accountability drive has been reduced to a witch hunt, education reforms are on an entirely different trajectory than promised for so long, and so on and so forth.
There is an ever expanding crisis of governance characterised by a lack of control over the market dynamics – resulting in forbidding inflation and shortage of supply of essential items, diplomatic setbacks and shrinking scope of jobs and services.
To overcome a series of failures on all these fronts, the prime minister has opted for rendering the parliament redundant as a forum for engagement with the opposition on way to conflict resolution.
Instead, he has chosen to tighten the noose around his critics’ neck. The NAB has initiated corruption cases against opposition leaders and put them behind bars. The PTI government has muzzled the voice of the media and pinned its failures on the shoulders of scapegoats -both past and present.
There is nothing extraordinary done so far by PTI government to celebrate. The only big achievement in last two years is that it is still in the government. PTI still has three years to fulfill its promises. But the current team is not only incapable but also lack vision and strategy to reform the system and to fulfill the promises. Without a major overhaul in the team and policies, PTI will rely just on press briefings and some figures to show its performance.
The perception becomes more powerful than the reality with passage of time if rhetoric and claims fail to match with actions. The perception is developing fast that PTI government is incompetent. PTI needs to change this fast developing perception with actions and policy decisions.
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