Where there is smoke there is fire!

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By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry perhaps knows the art of pre-emption. Like a visionary he sees ominous things much before they happen. He knows when some politician will be arrested, when he or she will be in jail, what would possibly be a court verdict without it being made public. Being an overly weighty person that he is, he also has a strong nose that can smell a stinking rat in any corner. Out of the blue he disclosed without a casus belli  that PTI boat was sailing smoothly, there were no threats to it and that perceptions of its failures that were being created were sinister and deliberate.

“The parties led by Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari have already met their fate due to bad governance in their respective governments during the past 10 years,” the minister said while talking to media here at the Alhamra Hall recently. He blamed the previous rulers for corruption, lack of good governance and their gross failure to improve Pakistan’s external image. He claimed that the government will present finance bill on January 23, which will help strengthen the economy. ‘It will contain a lot for the masses to celebrate’, he did not elaborate and left for others to make a guess. Will it be inauguration of dual liquid way via river Indus to carry milk and honey to the starving masses? Candid that he always is, he forgot the hundred-day agenda and shared another secret that Prime Minister Imran Khan will soon come up to the people’s expectations. “Just give the PTI government two to three years, and you will hail it for the epoch-making reforms undertaken.”

It is said where there is smoke there is fire. Why did our Information Minister have to resort to pre-emptive strike when there were no threats to his government? Or is there something that is still in the closet? Social media is viral with ominous forecasts that the PTI government’s days are numbered. Powers that be that played a pivotal role in engineering electoral victory for PTI and Imran Khan are regretting their selection. As they mean business, they have made it clear privately to PTI leadership that it has another six months of trial and error. It could mean mid term elections though both PPP and PMLN would not like to bring down the government half way. The more things get messier; the better would be the prospects for the opposition parties.

Prime Minister Khan and his team of novices  are lucky to have both the major opposition parties wedded to democracy as they are, not interested in over turning PTI’s power bandwagon. In this context I would refer here to a comment by PMLN Senator Lt General ® Qayyum on PTI’s conduct of the state of affairs. “In my view, IK is sincere and keen to develop the country but he doesn’t have an idea what is the basic structure or basic framework for development. Should it be state-led development model or private sector-led development model? The models he refers to in his speeches, such as Malaysia, China or Turkey, they all are state-led development models. China was communist in its originality but it continues to be state-led in its development model. Others (Turkey, Malaysia and famous Asian Tigers) they all developed on the basis of Hamiltonian state-led development model. His team, however, has little understanding of the development models. They know development from the end result not from its process. Therefore they seem to have a desire to develop sans clear policy.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan remains a world class cricketer who has yet to become a politician or a statesman. He has a mindset of a long handle wielder of a bat, who only knows that his arms have strength to take a mighty swipe with eyes closed and once the bat hits the ball, it is bound to bring runs. His politics as well is restricted to the cricket field and the gallery, his cabinet ministers too with the exception of Dr Shirin Mazari and Shah Mehmmood Qureshi—are no better than gilli-danda wala boys of the street vying to be rudimentary cricketers. Their critics call them trigger happy loud mouth show boys or crooks with own personal agenda. His is certainly not a team but a howling horde. 

According to IK he had spent 22 years in political struggle much before success touched his feet. It seems that he regretfully did not spend those 22 years in learning politics. Rather tutored by Bonapartist generals, he sought back door entry into corridors of power by joining hands with General Hameed Gul to stage a coup against Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto by abortively roping in late Haji Abdus Satar Edhi—an iconic social reformer– who ran over to London to escape his conspiracy. Later riding on shoulders of General Musharraf supporting him in referendum and later after 2008 elections, IK submitted himself to engineering his political gains by ISI Generals Shuja Pasha and General ® Zaheerul Islam. Except the fact that he has developed a gift of the gab and is sort of orator too, his capacity to deliver has yet to charm any one. According to his critics he indulges in day dreaming and spells out utopian schemes of social welfare without much ado.  

Unfortunately since IK seems to be a puppet on chain, he has burnt his boats in pursuit of the agenda given to him by the powers that be for a strong centre with presidential system reminder of the three previous generals who created conditions for dismemberment.  Pakistan needs strong provincial governments with a competent central government to take imaginative steps and initiatives in foreign, defence and most crucial economic fields. Instead of putting dirty fingers in the provincial pies, IK would be doing a great service if he could give the country a professional finance minister rather than have his own crony whose cause of fame was his father—a General—a close buddy of General Yahya Khan in the break up of the country.   

(The author is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist.)