Vigour of new PM in Pakistan

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By Senator Rehman Malik

The first episode of British serial “Yes Minister” was written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn in which the actor namely Paul Clark Eddington shows the struggles of a Minister in formulation of legislation and departmental changes in his act and how the efforts of the Minister are frustrated and compared to the former ones.
I find this play close to the reality as we follow almost the same system.
It is challenge for a Prime minister to please the bureaucracy in order to make it through. The said sitcom fits completely to our own political and administrative system.
Pakistani administrative system runs on subjective grounds rather on objective grounds. Though there is a constitution which guides our governance but unfortunately our governance does not run on well-defined objectives but it is pushed on subjective modes and the system becomes subservient to the will of individual chief executive.
It is a historical fact that the PM in any country gets trapped and becomes hostage in the hand of his own bureaucracy – like his Principal Secretary and few federal secretaries – and they becomes more powerful than their boss and the system.
The vigour of new PM is likely to be suppressed by his bureaucracy and the few initial briefings with the expression of multiple fears in fact will cripple his plans and it’s a usual practice for every PM. We need to see if the new PM is able to break the status quo of bureaucracy and bring a new era of effective and clean team for implementation of rule of law.
The first challenge is the economic crunch, and in normal course of briefing by the bureaucracy it has sufficient grounds to convince the PM to get more loans from IMF and World Bank. In fact his own finance minister would be leading him in pleading for further loans.
It would be a challenge for him whether he decides to ask for further foreign loans or finds some alternate way to strengthen the economy like the President of Turkey who made the country self-sufficient with zero foreign debts as of now. I feel that Instead of depending on “Yes Prime Minister” model bureaucracy I hope he will ask a member of the financial team of Turkey to help us in getting rid of this fiscal cancer of foreign debts which has basically disabled the progress of our country.
In fact, leaving the PM house and residing in exclusive small cottage is not just enough to transform Pakistan into a modern prosperous Pakistan. The people will not bother where their Prime Minster stays but they are concerned what would be the vision of their PM to drive the country out of the crises.
I think the opposition will be a very robust opposition against PTI especially through the Parliament, social media and street level. Due to the economic situation and rise in oil prices, PTI will have to go against their campaign promises as per manifesto; in addition to this they will also not be able to control inflation as explained above. PTI may have to face tough time both in the center and Punjab.
The sector which has been destroyed by “yes minster” band is our energy sector, so where is the energy generation plan of the PM? It looks as if the energy crises are going to further deepen. Will the new PM be able to break the bureaucratic barrier and hurdles already created because of our built-in inefficient system?
Pakistan has precariously survived 5 years without a foreign minister and a well-formulated foreign policy despite this known fact that a foreign policy is essential especially in this age of globalisation when new and daunting challenges have emerged for our country. The conduct of foreign policy would be fundamental to the success of new PM and his cabinet. The question that rises here is that, will the status co in MOFA be still continued through “yes minister” policy or the PM will bring some radical changes by adopting aggressive foreign policy?
India and Pakistan have always had awful and lamentable relationship upon their diplomatic, military and political front: whereas the people of both countries have been seeking normalised and sound relations as both share almost same cultures and traditions. The new government by making sincere efforts to normalise the relationship between both countries can earn mutual respect and make its foreign policy a successful and historic one. Several things need to be done to bring both countries to peace; democracy must be strengthened in Pakistan, economic relations should be improved, terrorism of any variety should be crushed, particularly the State sponsored variety, ceasefire violations be completely stopped by both, nuclear and missile race be stopped as these are hugely expensive, dangerous and detrimental to economic development and last but not the least initiation of social, cultural and political dialog process to enter into a long term friendship is needed.
The new PM will also need to ensure China stays committed to its planned $62bn investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is expected to develop direly needed infrastructure for the 200-million-strong country.
Foreign anti-Pakistan sentiment has made Pakistan isolated from the world. Pakistan was unable to block highly negative and inimical propaganda initiated at international level led by India which has landed us in the list of FAFT. FATF grey list is the most pressing matter for the new PM of getting Pakistan off it as soon as possible.
National security which needs extra attention as inadequate national security is well reflected to see the terrorists’ attacks during election 2018. Let us see how the new PM improves the security conditions where there are difficulties as the law and order already stood devolved through the 18th amendments which has made provinces responsible for law and order. Moreover, we need to see how the new PM brings the matter more under his control to improve the security with the help of provinces.
Pakistan is on the verge of an ecological disaster and the looming water shortages need to be addressed immediately. According to a report, Pakistan will soon be facing extreme scarcity of water and might go dry by 2025. Pakistan has massive Himalayan glaciers, rivers, monsoon rains and floods but just three major water reserves are there because of which, surplus water is quickly lost. A wise initiative by the new PM would be essential to build infrastructure to reverse the course of the impending crisis. There is also a need of public education on how to not waste water and rather preserve it.
Another major challenge for the new PM would be the balance of power between the civil government and armed forces. The next PM is required to meet the country’s challenges without upsetting this delicate balance of power keeping.
(The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Body on Interior and Narcotics.)