Imran Khan had too many amazing feats to his credit before he entered politics, as a cricketing sportsman, educationist, philanthropist, social worker, traveller, charismatic personality, and a world-renowned figure. In personal attributes, he is extremely honest, very resolute and determined to achieve his object for which he zealously works hard. After founding a political party, he zestfully worked hard for over 20 years and suffered many electoral reverses but did not lose his heart. At last in the aftermath of the Elections of 2018, he gained sufficient strength to get a majority in the Parliament and form his government.
On 18th August 2018 when he took hold of his office, his immediate challenges included flawed energy policies, spiralling fiscal deficit, all-pervasive corruption, grossly inadequate tax to GDP ratio, underinvestment in education and health sectors etc. His economic agenda projected a growth rate of 6 per cent, inflation to be brought down to 7 per cent, fiscal deficit to be brought down to 4.5 per cent, and tax revenues to be raised by 15 per cent. These were his ambitious plans and big challenges ahead.
Imran Khan besides his multiple qualities suffers from certain temperamental defects which are suicidal for a politician. For a good politician, one should have a generous heart and mind, should proceed with a spirit of accommodating his political rivals, and give them due weight as long as they do not run counter to his own programme, and try to take them along through the thick and thin of their political journey for the common good of their people. On the other hand, he publically declared that he would not sit with the opposition party to consult and resolve important national issues. This goes against the democratic workings of governments.
His initial promises after he assumed power was that he would create 10 million jobs, and make five million homes, but throughout his tenure of nearly four years, he failed to give them a single job or home. Instead, he has created more instability and many millions of people have been laid off due to the economic instability. He declared with a flourish that he would rather commit suicide than go asking other nations for aid, but later he went to every single country with the same begging bowl in his hand and yet could not muster the requisite funding as had been expected by him.
Politically, Imran Khan in all his speeches and interviews has lambasted the opposition leaders as ‘dacoits’ and ‘thieves’ who looted the wealth of this country and stacked their assets in foreign countries. This allegation may be true, but its too much repetition by the P.M. (especially when dealing with the corrupt is exclusively the responsibility of the NAB, an independent forum, with which P.M has got nothing to do) is likely to cast aspersion on the integrity and impartiality of the P.M., vis-a-vis NAB. Moreover the assertion of Imran Khan that he will force them to disgorge their hidden wealth, and by so doing put Pakistan on the road to progress, is another example of his political naivety. So far no remarkable recovery has been affected by any politician which has even a remote chance of making Pakistan economically better off. As a Prime Minister, he must know that calling someone ‘Corrupt’ in public without a judicial decree by a court of law is itself reprehensible and also criminally liable to an action. . Some months ago in a public speech, he expressed his spite against a political party head by naming him and declaring that after coming into power he will make him his first target by pointing his bayonet at him, which was a threat to his life. Perhaps he delights in assuming a macho image. And this is a sign of bad politics.
Imran Khan often makes hasty decisions without deliberation or consultation. This is true about his postings and transfers to fill important slots. For instance, his posting of Usman Buzdar as the C.M Punjab was very unpopular. Mr Buzdar was neither an old PTI member nor did he have any experience of administration at any level, nor he was a public speaker, nor could face people or journalists. Being an introvert and inarticulate persona, he always brought embarrassment to Imran Khan’s government which the latter eschewed with good humour, much to the embarrassment of his own party. Nobody on earth could ascertain the reasons for his appointment to such a post of high responsibility. However, he earned a lot of unpopularity for the regime and indirectly contributed to its fall.
His other questionable appointments related to Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan as SAPM for information, and Mehmud Khan as CM Peshawar (Instead of much experienced Perwaiz Khattak). Amongst his other political blunders included his removal of Asad Omer from his finance portfolio, and filing a presidential reference for the removal of Supreme Court’s Justice Qazi Faez Isa. This reference forced Justice Isa and his wife to face unjust inquiries about the means in June of their wealth. Mr Khan later confessed that he was misled.
Our misfortune is that since true democracy has not so far taken firm roots in our soil, therefore our politics is splintered into various small factions with divergent political ideologies with the result that their mutual power struggle takes an ugly shape now and then with a grave threat to the security of the country. It has often happened in the past that in case of unruly behaviour of parties, the politicians themselves called the army to intervene. Recently our country was on the brink of disaster in the aftermath of a grave constitutional crisis which was timely averted due to the intervention of the Supreme Court. This is enough to conclude that if the level field is entirely left to the politicians, they can always play havoc with the country. They still need the crutches of a strong judiciary and a vigilant army.
There are some cogent explanations for these failures which one cannot deny. Imran Khan indeed inherited a bad economy with enormously heavy debts, which no government in the past tried to minimize. Amongst factors which have influenced price hike is the rapid growth of the population, rising non-development expenditure of the government, the inadequacy of agricultural and industrial outputs and mounting imports. He did not touch these souring problems.
Presently, when he has won a thumping victory in the by-election on 17th July 2022, the people have re-asserted his popularity as their saviour, obviously with high expectations of overcoming their present problems, for which he faces grave challenges in the future. The road ahead, he knows, is very tough for which he must sit calmly and seriously analyze his defects and weaknesses and resolve that the same mistakes are not repeated again.