By Muhammad Luqman
Million of Pakistanis , mainly youth weary of corrupt practices of governments in the past, voted for cricketer-turned-politicians Imran Khan in July 25 elections as he had promised to bring about visible change on the political and economic landscape of the South Asian country in his first 100 days.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) six-point agenda included: improving governance, strengthening the federation, revitalizing economic growth, uplifting agriculture and conserving water, revolutionizing social sector and ensuring national security , the slogans that have been like sweet music to Pakistanis ears for years.
On top of all, the 66-year old politician had pledged to create 10 million jobs, facilitate the private sector to build 5 million low-cost housing, reducing price-hike of basic goods, fixing the energy crisis and making the 64 billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a “game changer”.
Khan also promised to run affairs of the country without taking any foreign loans in the campaign in run up to the general elections.
Now PTI government has completed first 100 days in the office, most of Pakistanis don’t feel the accomplishment of the mission of change initiated by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“ Imran Khan could have averted the issue of trust deficit by not making tall claims; Had he made just doable promises, these were quite achievable,” says Waqas Ahmad, a rickshaw driver who voted for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf in general elections of 2013 and 2018.
Deviating from its election campaign promises to bringing down the prices of utilities, the government announced a raise in electricity, petroleum and gas prices last month, following record-high depreciation of Pakistani rupee vis-à-vis US dollar.
Due to present government’s record of backing out from election campaign promises, the opposition parties dub Prime Minister Imran Khan as “Mr. U-Turn” — a sarcastic reference to his policy shifts. During his brief time in office, he has taken a U-Turn on seeking of foreign loans.
“I would prefer to die rather than beg for loans,” he had said during his campaign.
But country’s ailing economy has forced him visit Riyadh and Beijing to borrow billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and China. Islamabad is currently in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package.
While justifying his penchant for policy shifts, Prime Minister Imran Khan recently told journalists ,“If you are walking and there is a wall in front of you, then you will have to change and find another way and a leader who does not know how to take U-turns is not successful,”.
However, the government officials believe that the biggest achievement of the PTI government is saving Pakistan from a financial crisis.
“We have set the direction…we will stick to our promise of providing 10 millions jobs and 5 million homes,” Iftikhar Durrani, spokesman of Prime Minister recently said.
“Our voters are not angry with us. They don’t mind if they have to bear the price-hike and inflation for next seven-eight months,” he said.
Government believes that installation of a PTI-led government in the key-province of Punjab was a great success for the ruling political party.
Launch of countrywide drive to plant 10 billion trees in Pakistan over five years, opening of governor’s houses in Karachi and Lahore to the public, formation of 30-member committee to probe opposition’s allegations of rigging in the general elections, Saudi Arabia’s US $ 6 billion package , Chinese promise to increase imports from Pakistan by US $ 2.2 billion and re-opening Kartarpur corridor at India-Pakistan border to facilitate the Sikh pilgrims are some of the major achievements of the present government in its first 100 days.
During the first three months of the government, a number of controversies arose, creating problems for both the Prime Minister and its party.