The ways of a celebrity are different from the ways of someone in high office. The first thirty days in office of Prime Minister Imran Khan are however proving that he has not understood that he is no longer the captain of the cricket team but the prime minister of a 200 million strong country. His government’s policies both domestic – crowdfunding for building a dam or selling cars to build government resources – and foreign have only brought ridicule to our nation.
In a scathing piece The Guardian recently referred to Mr Khan’s first thirty days in power as “Climbdowns, cheese and crowdfunding.” The article referred to the “promise” by Mr Khan to “grant citizenship to the Pakistani-born children of the country’s roughly 2.5 million Afghan refugees” and then “after strong push-back by nationalists, the military and his own coalition partners, the prime minister U-turned. “No decision had been made” on citizenship, Khan said in a speech to parliament.”
On the economic front, Pakistan has a £13.5bn current account deficit and yet instead of hard policies “Initial brain-storming sessions however have done little more than to produce a much-mocked proposal to ban imports of cheese, alongside mobile phones and cars.”
Further, both Mr Khan and the Chief Justice of Pakistan are involved in “an almost certainly futile effort to crowdfund the construction of an £11bn dam in the north-east. The project has led to an atmosphere of near-hysteria: Pakistanis overseas have been asked to each donate $1,000, children in tribal areas have been told to donate their lunch money, while the chief justice has threatened doubters with trial for treason. Yet, even at the current rate of feverish donation, it would take more than 100 years to raise the capital. Misleading the population to believe it was possible to crowd-fund such an infrastructure project was “willfully squandering a massive asset in Pakistan … a groundswell of love for country”, says political commentator Fasi Zaka.”
While a “drastic improvement in relations with the military is the party’s clearest impact on Pakistan’s politics so far” yet the Guardian piece warns “Military support may afford the PTI plenty of leeway, analysts say. But the defenders of the nation cannot shield the party forever from the sky-high expectations of the public.”