Since the election in July, questions people have been asking are whether Imran Khan government will deliver on the promises? Will Imran Khan transform Pakistan? The answers to these questions depend on the kind of people he has gathered around himself. But before we talk about all the PMs men we have to keep in mind that the government comprises not just elected parliamentarians but also civil bureaucrats, law enforcement, and military bureaucracy. Military bureaucracy is technically under the civilian rule but practically are independent in their decisions. Law enforcement is being closely supervised by the judiciary since they started exercising suo motu powers. So it is largely left to the civilian bureaucracy that works with elected government to try to deliver on social services, economic development, and foreign policy. This is where it is important to analyze whether Imran Khan team is capable to work with the bureaucracy.
There are three suggestions from Imran Khan that shed light on his team preferences. First, he has repeatedly said that fish rots from the top which suggests that as long as an honest person like him is in control no corruption or bad governance can happen. This also works well to keep competition within the party at bay because they are corrupt and not suitable to lead the government. Second, that he will be the only judge of merit and select all MNA candidates himself. This means that all the men around him are a reflection of the kind of people Imran Khan likes and believes can deliver. They also owe their allegiance to him alone and no one else. Third, he has repeatedly said that he can’t find angels to work with him thereby justifying the inclusion of status quo political elite from other parties.
Based on these Imran Khan has defined the kind of men that qualify to be part of his team. They have certain disrespect for norms, laws, and tradition in pursuit of the political power and are only loyal to him. Ali Amin Gandapur, Murad Saeed, Dr. Arif Alvi, Imran Ismail, Ali Zaidi, Shah Farman, and Qasim Suri as part of the old guard have all been prepared and ready to defy laws to please the great Khan during dharna, lockdown, and other protests to weaken democracy. They are also rich people that have used questionable means to create their wealth as reported by media like Jahangir Tareen, Aleem Khan, Faisal Vavda, and Zulfi Bukhari. These men have funded the party to pursue their political objectives. There are also men that have been part of political elites with no particular adherence to any principles or ideology like Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pervez Khattak, Khusro Bakhtiar, and many others. Can any of these kinds of people transform Pakistan? Can these people that do not have the moral authority push and pressure civil bureaucracy to deliver to the people rather than serve special interest? I doubt it.
The events of the past one month have made it clear that those around Imran Khan are only interested in enriching and empowering themselves. Interference in police work in Pakpattan; pressuring district administrations to fulfill their wishes; slapping of a civilian by MPA in Karachi; meeting with hardened militants in jail in violation of rules, supporting land grabbers like Mansha Bomb etc. is just tip of the iceberg. There is more to come especially corruption in KP in the last five years that have been ignored because Imran Khan and his team are the favourites these days.
The blame for this state of affairs lay with majority members of PTI that gave a blank check to Imran Khan and refuse to question his decisions. They did not stand up with Justice Wajih, Tasneem Noorani, Gen Hamid Khan, and SCAD when they took decisions against people that captured the party for their personal benefits. Party members instead of building a tanzim (institution) and systems decided to put their trust in one man whose criteria was clearly to support the status quo elite. Anyone that opposed Imran Khan decisions was put down by the party members themselves using the argument that securing political power was more important than due diligence of the team members.
What can they do now? Although it is a little late in the game they can try to build party tanzim and develop some systems to monitor the performance of the elected government. It is difficult but not impossible. Expressing anger on social media can create pressure but does not institutionalize the process.
As a member of the opposition, I will continue questioning the decisions and policies of the government so that they deliver on their promises.
By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi