Imran Khan’s success would not be possible without his theory of change. A theory of change tells us how and why a desired change is expected to happen. The desired changed in this case is a quantum leap in moral and material development in Pakistan, turning the country into a developed nation in a very short span of time.
According to this theory, a bunch of politicians are responsible for the rot in Pakistani state and society, and it is their greed and corruption that is pulling us backwards. In order to clean the Augean stables, we need an incorruptible leader at the top. Once such a leader is elected, a cascade effect will follow, cleaning up the system downwards. As soon as the system is cleared of corruption, Pakistan will start making tremendous progress.
This theory also includes an element of restorative justice; and concrete figures have been presented to back it up. At least $200 billion of looted Pakistani wealth is stashed in the international monetary system. By bringing that money back, Pakistan can resolve many of its current financial problems. Imran Khan had promised to bring this money back soon after assuming charge of office.
This theory was first used by General Ayub Khan, who effectively destroyed the existing political order to ensure the prosperity of the nation. Imran Khan idealises his regime because of the progress achieved during the era and the respect Pakistan enjoyed at world capitals. At one PTI rally, Imran Khan screened a documentary of the US president of the time receiving Gen Ayub Khan at the airport.
For a ghairatmand leader like Imran Khan, both material progress and winning back the glory of Ayub Khan’s period are important. In fact, by eradicating corruption, Pakistan can win back the prestige enjoyed by Muslim empires of bygone ages.
The dominant emotion of the revolution, based on this theory of change, is ghairat. Being self-aware of our dignity can make us self-sufficient. After all, this is what Iqbal has pleaded in his poetry – to live in dignified poverty rather than selling off your khudi (the ego). Imran Khan, the candidate, had even promised to commit suicide rather than begging for loans because begging for loans is against the ghairat of our nation.
This theory assumes that we can generate our own resources. Imran Khan’s core support is based in the urban middle class which benefits the most from the state resources but is reluctant to contribute taxes. This results in a disproportional burden on the corporate sector, which has lost its competitive edge. Imran Khan has explained during the last two decades that people were unwilling to pay their taxes because they knew that their money was siphoned off by corrupt politicians.
Now that this hurdle has been removed, we may see taxation jumping from 11 percent of GDP to 20 percent of GDP and hopefully touching 30 percent of GDP by the end of Imran Khan’s first tenure. The young men and women who supported the PTI will convince their parents to pay 20 percent of their income to the state – alongside delivering free lectures on what is wrong with Pakistan.
During the last five years, the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a way provided protection to electricity theft. Of course, people could not be convinced to pay their bills to the dishonest government at the centre. This, alongside other factors, resulted in accumulation of circular debt to the level of a trillion rupees. Now that bulbs will shine brighter, consumers will pay their bills happily everywhere and so this problem will be resolved in the next few months.
As enhanced trust results in an exponential rise in state resources, Pakistan will tread on the path of the social democratic revolution of the type that Hazrat Umar (RA) had ushered in one and a half millennia ago. Unfortunately, the option of conquering Persia is not available to Imran Khan. American President Donald Trump appears to be keen on that job at the moment.
More recently, Imran Khan has promised to prioritise the poor. That should mean diverting resources to primary healthcare, primary schooling, link roads and economic activity that alleviates poverty. Dr Farhan Khan Virk, the PTI’s young genius, has just returned after closely observing the factors that helped China lift millions of people out of poverty. I am sure he has a treasure trove of policies with him that Pakistan can benefit from through his Twitter feed.
I want to contribute by adding two factors here. The savings of the Chinese are not locked in the real estate. Entrepreneurs in China do not become wealthy simply by promoting speculation on imaginary plots that exist on files but are potent enough to make it impossible for people to own their own houses.
China does not have sugar barons exploiting the poor farmers. The PTI’s own sugar barons bought sugarcane through middlemen at almost half the price in my ancestral area and have not paid even that amount for two years now. This has caused a wave of poverty. Many farmers were forced to burn their sugar crop at brick kilns. But we know that justice has been promised by the PTI and Imran Khan will not spare anyone if found guilty.
Now that the revolution has ushered in, we should have no doubt that Imran Khan’s ATMs, who belong to these crony sectors of the economy, will forgo their own interests for the sake of the nation. If they don’t, they will have to face the iron hammer of justice, currently busy in building dams.
The party of justice will surely bring us justice. As promised in Imran Khan’s 100 Day Agenda, all civil cases will be decided within a year and the complete backlog of cases at the civil courts will be cleared. This appears very practical. Since Imran Khan has taken charge, judges will not have to worry about dams, hospitals and garbage dumps any longer. Their single-minded focus on their own job can bring half of the revolution in the system of justice.
The other half of the justice system is with lawyers. They have been shouting their support for Imran Khan for five years. Now it is time for them to forgo a good part of their income arising from a case getting resolved in a year rather than creating a generational stream of income. Many, I am sure, can now be absorbed in the ten million jobs that the PTI has promised.
The new justice system will be supported by a depoliticised police force. The Punjab police, within the next few days, will become the envy of the Scotland Yard just by putting a god-fearing inspector general in charge of the most fearsome colonial machine.
What kind of cynic can oppose such a theory of change at a time when the seed has turned into a tree and it is time to pluck the fruit? Finally, we have a leader who can walk on water and by walking on water turn it into honey if not wine. The promised land is not a distant dream. The Indus belongs to the messiah.
The writer is an anthropologist and development professional.