There is more than a small grain of truth in the argument of Information Minister Shibli Faraz that an outdated, corrupt, and unfair system based on nepotism was defeated two years ago when Imran Khan won the general election. But then there are also valid questions, as the opposition never fails to point out, about just how that system was defeated and just what has replaced it. No doubt for the longest time Pakistanis had become accustomed to being ruled by an upper class that protected only its own interests. And slowly, in front of everybody’s eyes, much of the state’s structure crumbled away and the country fell into unsustainable debt all the while the elite enriched itself.
Yet there has hardly been any indication of a turnaround in the things that matter the most, and much of the promises made by PTI (Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf) on the campaign trail not only never came true but have been effectively abandoned in a wave of policy changes that famously came to be known as the PM’s U-turns. Also, since the second anniversary of the new government falls near Eid, and prices are traditionally high and people are suffering, the most common theme that has emerged among the people is the government’s inability to even provide the basic necessities of life at stable prices. Other than that too the low cost housing is still a distant dream, the accountability drive has been reduced to a witch hunt, education reforms are on an entirely different trajectory than promised for so long, and so on and so forth.
But that is not to say, of course, that all is bad. The government did indeed inherit a very broken down economy, and its initial indecision made it much worse, but it did get control over the whole thing and the overall direction was fine. Its handling of the pandemic has been showing very nice results. And the way it helped businesses survive the worst of the lockdown kept the jobs and earning situation from being much worse. To be fair, while the ruling party is full of old players from all around, the prime minister is still new to the top spot, and two years is perhaps too soon to judge his performance for what is after all a five year cycle. However its performance has been so far, PTI now knows what is working and what is not. And it has ample time to take care of all that is not.