By Wajid Shamsul Hasan
In what is being described a ‘fantastic’ track record of exceptional ‘hip-beating performance’ in last two years, when his most wealthy minister Azam Swati had to resign from his cabinet post in the initial days of IK government to allow public accountability to take a natural course following a controversy over transfer of IG police and also having abused his authority as a minister to get a poor farmer behind bar for allegedly encroaching on his farm land.
Swati’s decision looked futuristic indeed a pointer of right things to happen in PTI government to keep its track record straight. National accolades were in order and Prime Minister Khan had reasons to straighten his collar up as he used to do whenever he knocked a wicket or hit the ball across the fence while batting.
Swati incident was just tip of the iceberg. Jehangir Khan Tareen and Kuhsro Bakhtiar quickly earned national notoriety in the mega corruption sugar and atta wheeling dealings, churning out billions for them in cascading cash flow of tainted profits as IK’s buddies.
While JKT found himself ignominiously squeezed out of PTI’s top power hierarchy with both Imran Khan and JKT no more on talking terms, the man known for his ATM machine in service of Khan and seen imminently in danger of being persecuted by the government that he had pillared to sustain—had to do a London yatra for medical treatment like all leaders do. Taste of pudding is in eating it; the other IK’s stalwart Federal Minister Khusro Bakhtiyar instead of getting kick in the butt for his insatiable greed for illegally acquired money in mega sugar scandal got rewarded to yet another lucratively cushy ministry. This act of IK’s collaborative kindness to Bakhtyar and brother in their corruption marathon has set a new precedence and style of ‘punishing the corrupt’ in IK’s style of ‘tabdeeli’ in state management. Change in the ministry of Khusro Bakhtyar has been very aptly put by an IK critic. According to him a villager’s daughter ran away from home with her neighbour and got married. The villager in anger killed his daughter and got her husband marry his second daughter just like Khusro Bakhtyar having made money to the hilt in mega sugar corruption, Imran Khan in punishment to Bakhtyar changed his ministry.
IK’s much blown up crusade against corruption with his promise that he would not spare those who have piled up ill-gotten wealth in their coffers, he had warned to pillory them in public, recover every penny and deposit it in the national exchequer. It is a big joke on him that his close associates are basking in piled up billions accumulated by them through means foul and abuse of their office. In short, all his claims have proved to be false and just drum beating. All inquiries into mega corruption cases ordered by him have proved to be nothing but exercises in futility.
One is reminded of IK’s forewarnings to do what the Chinese did to their corrupt ministers and functionaries—-execute them in public to teach future generations a lesson in honesty and above board life style. On the other hand, during his two years of governance IK has taught his ministers and officials to be more corrupt and get away Scott- free of all their misdeeds. IK has always been too generous in his promises and making tall orders. Remember, his threats to burn electric bills if they were in excess of Rs 18. Now poor consumers have to pay thousands of rupees extra without having consumed power. While rupee to a dollar is unbelievable—nearly Rs 170 to a dollar, sugar price has gone up ten fold, it is Rs 90 per kg so has price of nan gone beyond R s 15 per piece. Corruption has broken all previous records and if Kapitan today gets down to confessing that he is corrupt, his PTI enthusiasts would counter him by saying that he is lying and his confession is under the influence of some intoxicant. Remember his announcement to provide exemplary punishment to Shiwal porn merchants, same would be the case of his ministers responsible for sugar and atta black-market. PTI government has rendered Pakistan into a land of shortages—name any essential commodity—it is not available in open market. Worst has come to be the case of essential medicines especially those that are extensively used in treatment of co-virus19. Indeed, condition of hospitals and medicare in the country has become worse. Patients travel from far only to be denied treatment and die outside uncared. While the federal government has miserably failed to combat the coronavirus19, it has also tried to subvert Sindh government with an exemplary performance.
It is definitely strange to observe that despite severe-most indictment by the Supreme Court of Pakistan of the Special Assistant to the PM on healthcare, he remains unaffected carrying on his business as usual. Similar is the condemnation by the Supreme Court of the National Accountability Bureau of its high-handedness and brutalities.
Less said the better over all law and order situation especially in Punjab where rape of women, kidnapping of children and increasing case of paedophiles—have become order of the day. Let us hope that powers that be that engineered Imran Khan’s tabdeeli government would review the whole situation and save the country from further damage.
(The author is a former High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK and a veteran journalist.)