Forty-one months

January 23, 2022

On August 18 in 2018, Imran Khan took oath as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan. On August 20, 2018, then president Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to the new federal cabinet; 16 plus five...

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On August 18 in 2018, Imran Khan took oath as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan. On August 20, 2018, then president Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to the new federal cabinet; 16 plus five advisers. The cabinet has since exploded to 28 federal ministers, four ministers of state, four advisers and 16 special assistants. History, I am told, “teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.” Apparently, we are yet to reach that point.

Shooting-in-the-dark: A shot-in-the-dark is “an attempt to guess something when you have no information or knowledge about the subject and therefore cannot possibly know what the answer is.” A total of four finance ministers over the past 41 months with an average tenure of 10 months. Hammad Azhar lasted for a mere 17 days. A total of eight FBR chairmen with an average tenure of around six months. We have had 44 FBR chairpersons over the past 74 years and eight over the past 41 months. A total of six finance secretaries with an average tenure of seven months. A total of seven inspectors-general of police in Punjab with an average tenure of six months. How long will we continue shooting in the dark? We have had 51 inspectors-general of police in Punjab over the past 74 years and seven over the past 41 months. How long can we afford to continue shooting in the dark?

Blaming the predecessors: Public debt and liabilities go up from Rs30 trillion in 2018 to Rs50 trillion – blame the predecessors. The price of wheat flour goes up from Rs35 a kilogram in 2018 to Rs75 a kilogram – blame the predecessors. The price of sugar goes up from Rs55 a kilogram in 2018 to Rs120 a kilogram – blame the predecessors. The price of electricity goes up from Rs11 a unit in 2018 to Rs23 a unit – blame the predecessors. And, “the search for someone to blame is always successful.” Yes, pointing fingers at the PML-N and the PPP can buy the PTI some time but neither the PML-N nor the PPP is in a position to solve peoples’ problems. Yes, blaming provided an early and artificial solution for the PTI but that time is long gone. Blaming the PML-N and the PPP means two things: a quick escape from guilt and denial of responsibility. But this denial of responsibility has denied the PTI control of the situation.

Distracting: The price of petrol has hit a 74-year high in Pakistan. But, petrol in California is still more expensive, says the government. For the record, the per capita income in California is $70,192 as opposed to $1,190 in Pakistan. Two dozen people, including 10 children, froze to death in Murree. But the suicide rate in Japan is much higher, claims the government.

Denialism: On January 3, PM Imran Khan asked PTI spokespersons to “inform the masses that there is no inflation in the country……” Denialism is the “practice of denying the existence, truth, or validity of something despite proof or strong evidence that it is real, true and valid.” In the “psychology of human behaviour, denialism is a person’s choice to deny reality as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth.”

For the past 41 months, the PTI has been shooting in the dark, blaming their predecessors, distracting and denying the truth – doing everything other than solving voters’ problems. Voters elected the PTI to solve their problems. Will the PTI get its act together?

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. He tweets saleemfarrukh and can be reached at: farrukh15hotmail.com



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