Tuesday May 28, 2024

Good governance to win back the lost political support

By Akram Shaheedi
January 03, 2022

There is a dire need to improve governance as preemption destined to win back the lost political support base, because without addressing the governance issues, all endeavours to retrieve the lost ground may not bear any fruit, because the people have enough of rhetoric and platitude opinionating as empty words as being inconsequential as the people do not feel any visible improvement in their quality of life. Instead, they are engulfed with sordid fear all the time the worse may be yet in the fold as the fundamentals of economy give no reason to be optimistic about in the face of spiraling inflation that seems out of control of the government. It continues to hover around double digit with local currency in a free fall and trade deficit swelling.

It may not be difficult to understand the reason behind the fatal and stunning blow to the party (PTI) in the local government elections recently held in KP, the stronghold of the PTI. The only major and plausible and exclusive reason responsible for the defeat could be the out-of-control inflation as the prices of the food items have skyrocketed during the past three years, badly affecting the purchasing power of each household already grappling to survive in an inhospitable environment due to the conflagration of inflation. The out-of-control inflation evidently earned the ire of the voters who paid back to the government with vengeance. It seems the cursing of the government and its policies under the roof of each household must have been the faith accompli, because they are at the receiving end of the crossfire of inflation. The ensuing opprobrium was the foregone conclusion that translated into voters’ stern disapproval of the government as witnessed in the elections that caught the leadership of the party napping.

It may not be wrong to assume that each household felt as a victim of the government and its policies, because their normal expenses increasingly outstripped their income during each month, forcing them to cut down their expenses on health and education to their utter frustration affecting the human resource development as collateral. The surge in price definitely affected the purchasing power of all the households indiscriminately, augmenting piles of miseries for them. The voters of KP have given the unequivocal message to the government to put its house in order first, if its leadership wants to retain the support base in the country that seemingly is on the decline as the party had lost by-elections recently held in the country. The voters’ support has to be earned through good governance that should not only be ensured but also be seen to have been ensured. Their support and favour must not be taken for granted, because their sense of weighing and outweighing is incredibly sharp and accurate.

The prime minister as chairman of the PTI has thoroughly overhauled the party’s organisation in his bit to preempt the possibility of facing the same type of political debacle in the upcoming local government elections in the country. It may be kept in mind that the PTI faced an embarrassing political climb-down in the first phase of local government elections in KP, where the JUI(F) has emerged as the biggest political force in the stronghold of the ruling party notwithstanding it has been in power in the province for the last eight years.

The prime minister’s decision to dissolve and re-organise the party from root to branch may be deemed as a whimsical measure to boost the morale of the party workers that have suffered jolt after the elections. However, the dire need of the hour is to improve the governance destined to provide relief to the households, because they are at the receiving ends, who adjudicate as what is good or bad for them in the final analysis. Undoubtedly, they feel themselves as the victim of the government and its policies that have unleashed the tsunami of unprecedented price hike of the goods of the common man’s basket, pushing the middle and lower middle class to the brink of extinction. Even the PTI stalwarts confess the conflagration of price hike across the board through their mealy-mouthed public assertions by articulating it as the international phenomena that does not carry the weight whatsoever among the people. But, they have to undertake this unpleasant party duty, no matter how much it may be incompatible with the ground realities and their sense of fairness and conviction.

The PTI leadership is in a shock and indeed very much embarrassed after the results of the local government elections recently held in KP and even losing the slot of mayor of Peshawar, the provincial capital, to its political rival. It has been badly battered by the JUI(F) that has emerged as the political force in the province to be reckoned with. It may be recalled that the province is considered as the bastion of the PTI as it has been in power since 2013. But that myth has evidently been squandered now with the insinuation of questionable vote bank of the party then (2018), and now without the backing of the institution. Its political fortune has seemingly taken plunge close to the proximity of dead end. Its popularity myth has seemingly been shattered to the limits and the party leadership is flabbergasted. The whimsical dissolution and re-organisation of the ruling party within days spoke volumes about the scale of anguish and frustration. The incumbency factor may surely have contributed to the electoral defeat to an extent as the people are evidently fed up with miseries that have been compounded exponentially during the period of its rule. The leadership of the ruling party has attributed its defeat in the first phase of local government elections in the province (KP) to the wrong choices of the candidates.

That may be partly true, but the real culpability could be found in unseemly governance that, instead of providing relief to the people, has caused difficulties and problems in their daily life, suggesting that the improvement in the governance does not constitute the priority of the government. The hopes of efficient delivery of services in health, education and civic amenities remained dwindled. The elections results are indeed the physical manifestation of the collective disappointment of the people of KP, who must have run out of patience with the government policies with forlorn hope of better days during the foreseeable future. The ruling party’s leadership may come out of the web of self-righteousness in favour of course correction, if it wants to win back the support of the voters that has been significantly dissipated in the thin air. The voters have given a message to the government in unequivocal terms that the delivery of services is the only yardstick to win back their hearts and minds as mouthing platitudes time and again could not be the substitute of deliverance. The government’s spokesmen, who have developed the wont of passing on every setback to the previous governments, have outlived its utility as strategy. Such articulations of the government officials and media teams have been on the trajectory of diminishing return. It has seemingly completed the cycle. The people are not taking such outlandish claims seriously even on their face value, considering such public assertions as standardised political statements devoid of substance.

How people can afford to remain favourably inclined to the ruling party when the burning of fire in their homes got extinguished due to the unprecedented inflation. The government seems helpless in controlling the inflation as the prices of flour, sugar and edible oil lintels have gone up three times during the tenure of incumbent government when compared with the two previous governments led by the PPP and the PMLN. The mantra of ‘cost of living in Pakistan is the lowest’ does not invoke sympathy for the government among the people who countered such argument with logic defying as the rich are getting richer at the expense of the poor masses. The depreciation of the currency of the Pakistani rupee has wreaked havoc so far as the prices of the food items are concerned. Poverty has increased and so has unemployment as the government’s decision to cut down the development expenditures under the diktat of (IMF) will surely increase unemployment with devastating snowball impact on the people and on the social order.

Pakistan’s economy needs to grow 8 percent for a number of years to provide jobs to the unemployed youth looking for the job opportunities and increasing with each passing year. The growth of GDP at that level seems a far cry as the (IMF) and the World Bank’s forecast revolves around 3 to 4 percent of the GDP.