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December 2, 2018

PPP issues white paper on govt’s 100-day plan

Top Story

December 2, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Saturday issued a white paper on the 100-day performance of government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and termed it ‘PTI’s first 100-day rule and U-turns.’

Through a PPP’s detailed report on the performance of the PTI government which titled “Sao Din Kay Sao Jhoot (100 lies of 100 days) and complied by Information Secretary of PPP Dr Nafisa Shah stated that the PTI has reneged or took U-turns conveniently on its promises, whether it is economic pledges, political positions, governance reforms, or foreign policy commitments, which is hardly surprising. 

“We consider that their 100-day plan is nothing but an electoral gimmick and that is what it has become, as 100 days are over, as little of their agenda stands implemented,” the PPP in its detailed response to the 100-day performance of the PTI maintained.

The PPP stated that the 100-day plan of the PTI has become an object of mockery and joke, as few in the country are taking it seriously, while the PTI is trapped in its own statements and words and have announced to launch yet another progress report which PPP considers nothing but a ‘cover-up’ of the 100 days of U-turns, pure lies, and deception. 

The white paper says the PTI promised that they would reform the government by vigorously pursuing accountability, by putting in place an effective local government system, depoliticising the police, rationalising access to justice and initiating civil service reforms. Except empty rhetoric on accountability and a task force on civil service reform, there was business as usual on the governance characterised by favouritism, political pressure on the police, and the usual transfer/posting job. “There were many U-turns here, the most glaring of them concerned the prime minister and his cabinet’s performance in the ‘selected accountability' and the non-performance in the National Assembly and the Senate:

1. Accountability’s multiple U-turns: Ehtesab as Intaqam: Not a day has passed in the last 100 days when the PTI ministers, the MPs and even the prime minister himself have not called the corrupt and vowed action against them. But these have become empty slogans as the PTI’s role in the anti corruption campaign is partisan and controversial. There are two particular U-turns we would like to point out that include the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission which was closed down arbitrarily after wasting the nation’s resources of about Rs1 billion and out of the 800 plus Pakistani property owners in Dubai, announced by PTIs asset recovery unit, one name is known to all – that of Aleema Khan, who is Imran Khan’s sister. But she has apparently been allowed to get away from investigation by paying penalty to the FBR showing that PTI campaign against corruption does not involve their own people or the first family and therefore seems to be victimisation of the opposition. We consider this a plea bargain without accountability allowed to the prime minister’s sister creating an exception in the law. The Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Hall of Fame includes his friends, financiers and cronies who are appointed in all shades of advisers and special assistants. Among the ‘luminaries’ are Zulfiqar Bukhari, and Awn Chaudhry, who are seen to be selected not on the basis of performance but on nepotism.

2. U-Turns in Parliament: The prime minister promised to give weekly answers in the Parliament in prime minister’s question time. However, not only has he not responded to questions, he has hardly made any appearance in the Parliament. The opposition has demanded that he should come and speak in the House on his various visits abroad, but he has adamantly stayed away from the sessions, preferring instead to restrict his appearances before television cameras in edited and televised addresses. The government has also yet to make any laws in the first 100 days in the legislature, which has just become a debating club. In addition, by denying the opposition leader the right to take the charge of the Public Accounts Committee as has been the tradition, the government is only showing its short-sightedness. This stubborn position has also been instrumental in stalling of the parliamentary work and the formation of the committees. Most oversight work of the government takes place in standing committees, but to date not a single standing committee has been formed and not one meeting to monitor the working of the government has taken place. This makes a mockery of the government claim of ensuring transparency as this is not possible without parliamentary oversight. To add insult to injury when Senate chairman banned Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, he went on a tirade against the Senate chairman and sadly was backed by the prime minister in this reactionary behaviour.

3. Anti-Encroachment drive and Banigala: Aik Nahin Do Pakistan: The PTI government brought down hundreds of buildings in Islamabad Capital Territory and the Punjab, yet when it came to Banigala, there was an offer for regularisation of the property. This is not one but two Pakistans contradicting their promise of equality where one Pakistan is there to protect properties of the rich and the powerful including Imran Khan, and the other Pakistan of the poor, weak and helpless whose properties are bulldozed.

4. Local Government System: no roadmap: The PTI government vowed to bring about changes and reforms in the Local Government system based on their model in KP. So far, there is no roadmap on this promise, except one meeting by the prime minister where he tasked the Punjab government to come up with new local government model. In any case, this was a promise most likely to fail as local government systems under the Constitution are a provincial mandate and in this case the federal government wanted to force one or two provincial governments to change the order of things overriding the law, which was not likely to happen.

5. Police Reforms or PTI Police State?: One of the longstanding commitments of the PTI was to reform the police system by instituting independent policing making it free from political influence. Instead, one of the first scandals to hit the Tabdeeli government came with the first lady’s ex-husband Khawar Maneka ordering transfer of a district police officer (DPO), of Pakpattan for not apologising to him. This was followed by transfer of the Inspector General, Punjab, and later Inspector General, Islamabad. In fact, the IG Islamabad was transferred because of the PTI Minister Azam Swati’s altercation with his poorer neighbours on the trespassing of their cows into his farmland! This shows that the police is not only far from independent, it is heavily under pressure from the political incumbents belonging to the PTI.

6. Protocol and Security Stunts: For years, PTI criticised ‘lavish’ protocol by various governments in power and promised they would follow simplicity when in office. But once in power apart from a few antics, the people witnessed the same traffic blocks, long queues of cars, and long waits on roads of PTI government. For instance the newly elected President Arif Alvi would video record his movements without protocol but accompanied by dozens of security personnel. But many private channels recorded his VVIP drives in a grand cavalcade.

7. Special Planes and 50 Rupees km Copters: The PTI government said that Imran Khan would only use commercial flights and no special planes would be used for foreign visits. However, his visits to Saudi Arabia and Malaysia were on special planes but so far the government has not yet given us the details of the costs incurred. A U-turn on the use of protocol and special transport came when we learnt that the prime minister was using a helicopter to ride back and forth from Banigala and reportedly his pet dog also accompanied him and enjoyed these rides too! When the information minister was confronted on these rides, he was quick with his answer, that these rides cost Rs50 a km!

Theme 2: Strengthening the Federation: In the second theme, titled ‘Strengthening the Federation,’ the government promised a South Punjab province, Fata merger where they promised integration, legislation and launching of a development plan, a reconciliation process in Balochistan, a Karachi package and an anti-poverty drive in the poorest districts of Pakistan.

1. South Punjab: A Promise Yet to be Fulfilled: The government promised a South Punjab Taskforce, and did manage to create a two-member task force comprising the cabinet members from South Punjab, viz, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Khusro Bakhtiar, but to our knowledge no meeting of this two-member force ever took place. Later on, the chief minister constituted a so-called council on South Punjab, where there was no representation of the opposition. So far there has been no statement on the progress made on this pledge which became a major rallying point for PTI electoral victory in South Punjab. But now this is turning out to be a major betrayal.

2. Karachi Package: Dashed Hopes: The government promised a transformative Karachi package but the commitment to Karachi can be seen from the fact that it took three weeks for the prime minister to visit Karachi. Subsequently there has been much lip-service on the issue of Karachi but a concrete package has not been seen. On the contrary the projects started by PPP government in Sindh, most importantly the K4 project is suffering because the federal commitments are not forthcoming.

3. Fata Merger: Delayed and Denied?: In its 100-day plan, the government promised to launch a mega development plan in Fata and begin the process of extending all the laws to Fata. However there is so far only lip-service on both these counts. We have yet to see the government formulating a plan for development, and financial commitments have not been announced either.

4. Poverty Alleviation Drive: Bulldozing of the Poor: Although we have yet to see or hear of the PTI government’s anti-poverty drive in the poorest districts, we have seen, heard and experienced PTI’s anti-poor drive. At the first instance, the PTI government launched anti-encroachment drive against the poorest of the poor in Punjab and in Islamabad while offering an NRO to the prime minister himself for his irregular, and unregularised palatial farm in the notorious Banigala where the elite have converted farms into residential areas without permits.

5. Attempt to Roll Back 18th Amendment: Weakening the Federation: The PTI 100-day plan or their 5-year manifesto disregards the principles of federalism where powers are distributed between the Centre and the provinces. Whether it is the local government or health and education, the PTI government at the Centre is recklessly encroaching on the jurisdiction of provincial government. In one instance, even their allies the Balochistan members of Parliament voiced their concern saying they fear the Centre had made agreements on Balochistan resources without consulting the stakeholders.

Theme 3: Revitalising Economic Growth: The government promised a 10-point plan to revitalise the economy, including jobs, houses, reenergising industry and the small and medium enterprises, and putting on track the Public Sector Enterprises - PSEs. However there is not only no plan, the government has unleashed a reign of economic warfare on the people by slapping price hikes especially of utilities upon them creating a tsunami of inflation.

1. 10 million Jobs: A Hollow Slogan: The promise of “unveiling Pakistan’s most ambitious job creation strategy to create 10 million jobs across five years, has so far been nothing but a hollow slogan. Not only that there is no strategy in sight after 3 months, people are being deprived of jobs by ordering bulldozing of shops and commercial projects.

2. 50 lakh Houses: Naya Pakistan Housing Scam: In the 100-day plan, one of the most ambitious targets was to announce a policy framework to launch 50 lakh houses. As with most other targets, government hastily launched the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme with little thinking leading to long queues of people thronging the Nadra offices. Now as hundred days are nearing to a close, the PTI is taking U-turns and rethinking policy, design and even on how to implement the plan as bottlenecks on financing, on land acquisition etc are surfacing.

3. Tourism and Four Destinations: In their 100-day plan, four new destinations were announced with fanfare and a promise to promote tourism. We have heard nothing on tourism nor seen any tourist sites announced even in their own government in the KP.

4. Inflation and Electricity, Gas tariffs: Tsunami against the Poor: Far from revitalising the economy the first decision of the government was to escalate the gas tariff which was increased by nearly 143 percent. This was followed by increase in CNG to 100 rupees per kg up from 84 rupees a kg. CNG is the poor person’s fuel, and this increase has led to impact on prices of essential commodities. As a result of raising of gas, electricity and CNG prices, inflation rose, and is presently the highest in five years. As our Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says “Das (10) rupai ki roti, Pandra (15) rupai ka Naan, Wah Ray Imran Khan.”

5. IMF U-Turn: During election speeches Imran Khan vowed that he would commit suicide but would not go to IMF for more loans. After nearly one and a half months of uncertainty and flip flops the government announced that it would go to the IMF to resolve the balance of payments crisis and the current account deficit. The uncertainty led to a windfall in the stock market leading to a loss of capital of nearly Rs800 billion. But even this announcement by the finance minister was U-turned by the prime minister in no time. Nonetheless the government has entered into negotiations with the IMF but there is no information on the details of the negotiations except the report from the media.

6. Dollar Rupee Rate: A turbulent economy: The uncertainty and indecisiveness of the government did allow a number of vested interests to make money as the rupee dipped overnight and lost more than 10 percent of its value increasing our import bill and our debt manifold.

7. CPEC Flip Flops: The adviser on commerce said that CPEC projects will be halted but then there was a U-turn. Soon enough, the government retracted and said they are committed to CPEC. We are still not sure which of the two is PTI government’s policy. The visit to China only brought more MOUs making it unclear as to what government’s commitment towards CPEC really is.

8. Austerity Measures: Gimmicks and Trickery: The government spent endless time and money immediately after coming into power to put into effect their objective of austerity drive. But these actions bordered on ridiculous acts involving journalists being allowed access to the Prime Ministers House and making recordings of toilets and bathtubs there. This ridiculing of a State House was not only a shameless gimmickry, it also humiliated the Prime Minister’s Office. The prime minister decided to auction the vehicles in the Prime Minister’s House, and sadly did not even spare the eight buffaloes which were presented to the former prime minister. He announced to convert the Prime Minister’s House into a university but himself simply moved to a smaller building of the Prime Minister House which was allotted to the Military Secretary. Similar gimmicks were witnessed in the governors’ houses as these were opened to the public, but after passing of the first a few days it was business as usual and the PTI government conveniently forgot its pledges to convert these places into universities, and museums.

9. Swiss Accounts and the mysterious $200b: Imran Khan and his team quoted a figure of $200b ad nauseum which they claimed with certainty was hidden away in Swiss banks by Pakistani clients. They promised that they would recover this amount at one stroke and all the fiscal problems of the country would wither away. However they would not quote the source when asked stating that the previous government had given this figure. Even after coming into power, they continued to use this number but had no idea on the sources, nor the institutions that could trace this amount. It turned out in due course that this amount was a conjecture and not based on facts. And within a month, this mantra of $200b accounts faded away. In the first cabinet meeting, Minister for Finance Asad Umar promised a task force to recover this money from foreign accounts. Within weeks they went back on their words and admitted that perhaps this was not likely.

10. PTI's ‘PML-N’ Status Quo mini-budget: When in opposition PTI rejected the federal budget using the argument that the PML-N government did not have the legitimacy to pass the budget of the whole year when it was here for only a couple of months and that this should be left to the incoming government. However the so-called mini-budget laid before Parliament in September as simply an amendment to the previous Finance Bill 2018 but without providing a new document for receipts and expenditure which a new budget should ordinarily do. In addition, the Finance Bill amendments maintained a status quo on the tax policy of PML-N especially of indirect taxation in the form of withholding taxes. In fact the only major amendment they made to this budget was Rs250b cut in development expenditure. So the so-called mini-budget was a continuity of the PML-N and a U-turn on their previous position.

11. PSE Revival, Attack on Pakistan Radio and Utility Stores: While the government promised revival of Public Sector Enterprises particularly the steel mills, and the PIA there is no plan in sight of their revival or resurgence. But on coming to power PTI attacked other public sector companies like the state-run radio and the Utility Stores, threatening their closure and forcing their employees on the streets in their first 100 days.

THEME 4: AGRICULTURAL REFORMS AND WATER CONSERVATION: The PTI promised an agriculture emergency, increased access to subsidised finance, launching plans to increase milk and meat production. But the only gift they have given to the farmer is to take away their only subsidy to farm inputs and increased the prices of DAP and urea which coupled with water crisis threaten the livelihoods of the farmers. There is also no commitment in sight to providing subsidised inputs, or credit, nor any facility to promote agriculture as they had previously promised. Government promised to import fertilizer in November, but where the fertilizer is.

1. Agriculture Emergency and Access to Finance: Unfulfilled Promise: The PTI promised to launch an agriculture emergency to increase profitability by launching an agriculture policy. They further promised to optimise subsidy programmes, promising crop-mix besides other programmes. In hundred days of their rule, there was little mention of agriculture or farmers. In fact reversing their commitment to profitability, the government transferred inflationary cost to the farmers by increasing cost of fertilizers and phosphates by nearly one-third making agricultural business uneconomical. Contrary to promoting access to credit and finance to farmers the rising cost of inputs placed additional burden to the farmers.

2. Transforming Agriculture Produce and Revamping Livestock Sector: The government’s 100-day initiative to transform the agriculture produce and introduce a programme to revamp livestock sector remains unfulfilled.

3. Upgrade and Implement National Water Policy: No Policy in Sight: Far from upgrading and implementing the national water policy of the previous government, the present government has miserably failed to address the water needs of the country or seem even ready to face the lethal crisis of water shortage. Instead the government strategy seems to be to put this urgent issue on the backburner.

4. Crowd funding Diamer Bhasha Dam: In his second address to the nation, Imran Khan announced to build the dam by collecting donations taking forward the idea floated by the Chief Justice of Pakistan. As the only public service work he has ever done is by collecting donations and private funds, this was to be expected. But what was surprising is that he actually believed that Rs1,500 billion project could be made by donations. A project of national importance ideally needs commitment to raise funds through taxes but PTI government’s approach towards nation building by appealing for donations is foolhardy and borders on the bizarre.

THEME 5: REVOLUTIONISE SOCIAL SERVICES: The PTI promised to revolutionise social services, transform health and education, expand social safety net by expanding the BISP, champion women development, announce clean drinking water plan for every citizen, and champion green growth. Although in 100 days there is a revolution in rising costs, but we do not see any revolution in social services. In fact, the only public sector programme for the poor -- Benazir Income Support Programme -- faced negligence in the first 100 days. There is also no anti-poverty agenda, or any social service agenda from the government except a few tents for the homeless, no visible effort has been made to offset the pressure on the people as a result of inflation.

1. Health and Education: Attack on the 18th Amendment: The PTI proposed a step by step plan to transform and depoliticise health and education. Further, they promised to extend its programme for health insurance card which was provided in the KP to other provinces as well. We did not see nor hear any step by step plans. Except a National Curriculum Council the only steps in education are retrogressive as the government froze HEC allocations for this year and many public sector universities are likely to face financial crisis as a result.

2. Benazir Income Support Program: Slowing Down: In the 100 days the only initiative the PTI government took in this anti-poverty programme was to appoint a chairperson. Other than that BISP is now subject to delays and so far any innovation or enhancement has yet to be seen as promised in the plan.

3. Women’s development: Least of the Priorities: The PTI has unfortunately only used women to fill its public meetings and now in the Parliament, the quorum. The 100-day plan promise was merely to champion women’s development but we have neither seen nor heard Naya Pakistan ‘change makers’ even pay that lip service to women’s agenda.

4. Clean Drinking Water: Appropriating Municipal Functions: Not only has the PTI promised change at the central level they have also promised change in subjects that fall in municipal services not realising that these are not functions of central government but of provinces. Of course it is possible for the centre to work towards this agenda by using the Council of Common Interest but the government cannot promise these without understanding Pakistan’s federal structure. It is clear that PTI has no idea of how Pakistan is governed and many of its U-turns will be taken because of this shallow understanding of distribution of powers in Pakistan's multi-tiered federal system.

THEME 6: ENSURING NATIONAL SECURITY: In this chapter, PTI has again reaffirmed the most important issue in Pakistan’s foreign policy – that it is inextricable with the country’s national security. Although national security dimension should and does inform the foreign policy, a country’s foreign policy is grounded in a country’s national interests encompassing economy, trade, and many other facets of a country’s. By inserting the foreign policy agenda within the paradigm of national security, the PTI government has confirmed our fears that the national security state model will not only continue but will be strengthened.

1. Distorting Institutional Structure: From whatever we understood from the jargon in their plan, the PTI aimed to strengthen the foreign ministry and expand its coordination with the Prime Minister’s Office implying perhaps the age-old understanding that the foreign ministry is being run from ‘elsewhere’. But assuming that foreign ministry is a part and parcel of the national security apparatus is admitting and agreeing to the status quo.

2. Pakistanis regional and global relevance: Increasing and expanding global relevance was the main objective of the PTI plan on foreign affairs. But in these hundred days, the PM missed the opportunity to address only major world forum that took place in this period, the United Nations General Assembly, the UNGA and went on a begging bowl mission to the Saudi Arabia instead. Besides we don’t want to repeat the disastrous phone calls and letters to various countries which caused us unnecessary embarrassment and badly exposed PTI government's naive approach to handling foreign affairs.

3. Leverage foreign policy to expand the economy: The PTI’s U-turns on Foreign visits: the Begging Bowl mission to Beijing and Riyadh. In one of the first press briefings, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced that the Prime Minister Imran Khan will not undertake any foreign visits in the first three months. In the next 100 days we saw four U-turns to this commitment. The prime minister made U-turns to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Malaysia and China, and except for Saudi Arabia, no gains were achieved in resolving our balance of payments crisis.

Undiplomatic Speeches: In both China and Malaysia, PM Imran Khan demeaned the office of the Prime Minister by denigrating Pakistan publically in an international forum.

4. A National Security Organisation, A Non-Starter: The PTI promised a National Security Organisation, a promise yet to be fulfilled despite passing of its 100 days. Although the logic of this fancy set up is not clear.

5. Internal Insecurity: The prime minister chose to remain the Minister for Interior but was found badly wanting in responding to the incidents that threatened the internal security of the country as for instance: Appeasement with the protesters in the aftermath of Asia Bibi judgement. In his address on television, Imran Khan promised to come down with a strong hand on those who challenged the state in the aftermath of the Asia Bibi judgement. However within days there was a U-turn and there was an appeasement document with those who not only challenged the writ of the state they also threatened the judges and the army chief.

Tahir Dawar Incident: The example of SP Tahir Dawar demonstrates that no one is in control in the interior ministry. If a key officer could be kidnapped and taken through two provinces into a foreign territory, it shows that the interior minister is not fit for the job.

THEME 7: ENSURING IMPLEMENTATION: Finally, PTI is not only overzealous in its 100-day plan, promising rivers of milk and honey, they are also over pretentious in their methods. In this section PTI promised a team of ‘change leaders’, and a government of zero corruption. But the actual reality of the so-called change leaders is before the nation, as is the promise of zero corruption:

1. The Odd Change Leaders of Imran Khan: Keep the Change: “The ‘Change Leaders’ of Imran Khan comprises the illustrious Fawad Chaudhry who cannot speak a single sentence without using abusive language. It further comprises Faisal Vawda who seemingly has hidden fantasies of being a Commando or John Rambo as he appeared in a very sensitive situation donning a bulletproof jacket and a gun. This hall of fame also includes Azam Swati who picked a fight with his poor neighbours over a cow and had an IG suspended on delay to answer his call and of course the ever present Bukhari for whom the country's ECL law was violated. Other change leaders were erstwhile members of General Musharraf’s cabinet and do not inspire any confidence or public trust.”

2. Prime Minister as Tabdeeli Khan: The PPP report stated that “100-day Plan promised none other than Imran Khan to lead the change and agenda of reform. But the mantra of Tabdeeli was short-changed and Tabdeeli has only become a hoax within which PTI has indulged in politics of gimmickry and expediency.” This change now is symbolized by trespassing cows, buffalo auctions, and PMs dog riding the helicopter.

The prime minister has not just been seen to not lead any change, he’s been seen to enjoy the trappings of power– the helicopter rides, changing the cops, and ostentatious foreign visits. A prime minister who justifies his policy reversals as a good quality has to be pitied, for policy reversals more often than are signs of weak conviction, and weaker will.

3. The Most Opaque Government: In their 100-day plan, PTI promised the most transparent government ever. So far the government is opaque and even shady. Transparency in governance is best achieved through oversight. The best oversight institution is Parliament which the present government has rendered ineffective as no committees are notified.

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