August 18, 2019


This week the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government completes its one year. Following a divisive election last year, the party came into power with the slogan of change. While the party has clear reason to celebrate, the question that needs to be answered is whether the nation has enough reason as well.

Beyond the posters and the catchy slogans, the party did stir the country’s political dynamic when its chairman, and now the country’s prime minister, stepped into mainstream politics over two decades ago. Whether the party offers Pakistanis a serious political manifesto that addresses their concerns is an old debate. Now that it is in power, whether it goes on to fulfill promises it made against those decades-old public demands is a question of immediate relevance.

Legislatures not only enact laws but also serve as safe spaces for debate and dissent. The argument then remains whether legislative performance should be judged based on the quantity or the quality of laws enacted, the quality of the debates that transpire on the floor of the House and the freedom with which opposition members are allowed to exercise that right.

If political confrontation is the only feature of parliamentary debates, what a loss for a nation as young and challenged as ours.

While the government has expressed its intention and commitment towards achieving international development goals, experts warn that the situation on ground remains ambiguous. With many social development indicators in the country having previously tested governments, it comes as no surprise when the PTI government is faced with the same. While work towards the formation of social development programmes and safety nets is encouraging, the lack of clarity in terms of policy and transparency in resource allocation concerns experts.

On the economic front, the challenges are great. The PTI government is still struggling to achieve the desired economic results in the face of chronic difficulties. Most of the sub-sectors of the economy including agriculture, industry and services have missed their targets. In line with our political tradition, the PTI government continues to blame the previous governments for the current slump.

Also read: Tabdeeli much?

Rights to freedoms of expression, speech and association are recognised as components integral to modern civil political systems. Power concentrations only serve to disturb equilibriums set in such systems. But the freedom to raise collective voices in the face of outright abuse of power is a right as basic as right to life itself.

Will the party that promised the nation tabdeeli also pave way for it unapologetically?