Time for Technocrats

Jawaid IqbalWhen the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, took over the government’s reins in July 2018, the country was already under the grip of a profound crisis at all frontiers of governance. As the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan inherited a whopping foreign debt and other liabilities left by previous governments of the PML-N and the PPP, which both were brazenly infested and riddled with graft, bribery and corruption. All hopes were then pinned on the PTI government to provide much-needed relief to the deprived masses and get the country out of its deep-seated socio-economic crisis. Unfortunately, the whole event turned out to be a damp squib since its very beginning, as neither the PTI regime, nor Imran Khan as Prime Minister, was able to deliver on their long-held promises, be it economic recovery, poverty alleviation, eradicating corruption and the rest. As days passed, things became pretty clear that the PTI was merely a bunch of time-tested opportunists, many of whom were former PPP and PML-N stalwarts. However, this time they managed to climb on the PTI’s bandwagon and were parachuted into the field as electables to find their way to the Assembly.

In the guise of reforms and change, publicly trumpeted as tabdeeli ad nauseam, the ghosts from the past were reincarnated to serve their vested interests at the expense of public good, while all pledges with regard to maintaining the highest standards of integrity, transparency and good governance turned out to be merely a hoax. Thanks to the abysmally poor governance of the PTI-led dispensation, what was seen as a disaster in the making a couple of years back, has now deteriorated into a full-blown debacle. On the one hand, the public is hit by all-time high inflation, astronomical food prices, economic recession, surging unemployment and all the other evils, the entire state machinery seems to have gone into a deep slumber. Despite all the challenges that demand effective measures without further ado, the government is adamant on its unique version of statecraft, compensating for administrative incompetence and fiscal policy shortcomings with shallow platitudes and grand promises to the public. In his quest to make amends for inherited indebtedness and liabilities, PM Imran Khan seems to have lost his way altogether.

The poor governance of the PTI so far cannot legitimise the corruption-ridden regimes of the past. However, time is running out for Imran Khan. As a last recourse, he must find a way within constitutional means to assign key ministries to a team of technocrats, who owe loyalty only to the nation and have proven experience, expertise and specialisation in their respective fields. The process of appointing technocrats in the cabinet must be based purely on merit, without considering their political affiliations or giving regard to their provincial, lingual, ethnic or sectarian background. PM Imran Khan can still rise to the occasion by employing technocrats to take charge of the affairs. When push comes to shove, it is never too late to make amends.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
President & Editor in Chief