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Dichotomy or political consensus?

The year 2020 will be critical for both the government and the opposition. This will be the year in which our country can be put on the path of prosperity provided the right attitude towards governing can take shape. Furthermore, the opposition must provide a healthy set of alternatives to the government’s policies, as an alternate means to take the country forward. It is beyond comprehension that in the previous year, the representatives of the masses, who have been elected to transform the lives of their constituents, have been doing nothing but defending their top leaderships on both ends of the spectrum, whilst the sufferings of the Pakistani masses continue to pile up in the form of higher inflation, lack of jobs, and absence of a comprehensive health system.

The degradation of our education system, which was supposed to get reformed by the current government, is rapid and alarming. The law and order situation has become a concern again.

The prime minister will require a comprehensive delivery plan for the year 2020 from each ministry in order to tackle these issues and more. It is important to note that the frequency of cabinet meetings has increased, as compared to the previous government, but these interactions are only useful if they lead to some basic results and time is of great essence in this regard. Divisive politics, which is full of venom, needs to transform into politics of consensus which could propel the country forward. The negative mantras which were emitting from both ends had polarized the country over the last year. The good news is that with the advent of the new year, the government and the opposition seem to be finally realising the importance of common objectives and goals with regards to running the county, such as the resolution of the issue of Chief of Army Staff extension, which was principally supported by all parties, in consideration of the country’s current situation.

We must provide the current government with stability as a nation, which we have not done in the past. We can always learn from history, amend our ways, and change our destiny as well as the future of our people. The looted wealth has not been returned, neither have basic reforms been implemented, which were the mantra of the PTI throughout its campaign. An entire year has gone by along with numerous discussions of these ideas on the media, but they have not translated into ground realities.

In the previous year, internal bickering, conflicts, and lack of cohesive vision within the key ministries were issues that continued to cause chaos and confusion and the ultimate price was paid by Prime Minister Imran Khan, in the form of his government’s inability to provide the transformation which could ameliorate the conditions of the Pakistani people. It is paramount that the borrowed guns at the helm of various affairs, individuals with insufficient experience and no vision, must be held accountable. The armies of advisors, at every level, who have done nothing but added bureaucratic red tape and confusion, must be let go. The team of government spokesmen who have not provided clarity, but instead muddied the waters even more, should not have any space in the current regime. The prime minister needs to act swiftly if he wants to utilise the remainder of his government’s tenure wisely and create substantial changes in order to put the country on the path of prosperity.

The opposition continues to lack the necessary cohesive agenda which could provide a healthy alternative to the existing problems. Our opposition parties remain self-centered, defending a few individuals, who refuse let go of their political powers even though new realities have emerged. There seems to be no vibrant and young leadership emerging from within the masses; instead we are forced to keep relying upon monarchy-style politics driven by political families who have always preferred their personal interests at nation’s expense throughout our existence.

The world is transforming speedily; the future of work and new stocks of knowledge and expertise are being created every day by emerging countries. In our own backyard, Bangladesh has achieved higher growth rate, produced more skilled workers, attracted more investments and ignited new industries by merging into the global trade flows. Talent and market acquisition have been at the forefront of its agenda. Whereas we continue to look with hindsight at our mistakes without having a concrete and viable plan of taking the country forward.

It is a matter of great concern that localized irritants have become grave matters for the nation. This highlights the inability of our provincial and bureaucratic leaderships to reach a consensus on any issue, no matter how inconsequential to the big picture. We are unable to clean up our largest city, the issue of stray dogs has created havoc, people are dying due to lack of vaccinations, HIV is raising its monstrous head, we are unable to eradicate polio in Balochistan besides completing a bus transit project in KPK for the last four years. In Punjab, good initiatives such as liver and kidney transplant institutes are moving at a snail’s pace and musical chairs is ongoing when it comes to bureaucratic changes. In the centre, we have quarreling ministers with no spirit of cooperation. In this process, the businessmen, the masses and the youth continue to lose hope.

The economy will shrink, the bureaucracy will underperform, the businessmen will hold money, inflation will destroy consumer confidence, innovation will halt and industries will migrate to other countries, as has been done in the past. The idea is not to portray a bleak picture but to create a sense of urgency in the minds of our political leadership for the year 2020. It is time to work together across the aisle to create unity and consensus to stop pointing fingers and to take our nation forward whilst realizing our shortcomings, understanding that no party is the holy grail and recognising the great potential of our people.

The youth of our nation is now sick of listening to tales of how great our country was. It is imperative that the leaders from both the opposition and the government dedicate their efforts to providing a platform for our youth, which could assist in regaining both our past glory and eradicating poverty and malnourishment, as well as providing security to the citizens of our country. However, this will require that we must stop the politics of hatred and instead create fair and just accountability where each side must play a constructive role to take the country on the path of reform. It requires we must hold supreme the interests of the nation in its true spirit.

It is incumbent upon the government to take swift action if it needs to realise its promise to the people of Pakistan. It must make the changes immediately in the cabinet, get rid of the added weight in the form of advisors, spokespersons, ensure capable and visionary leadership is installed in the provinces where it has the majority, and give space to the bureaucracy to perform its tasks. It should not pay heed to insensible noise of the opposition but rather focus on delivery of its promise. The Pakistani nation has always been resilient; it has the fortitude to overcome the challenges unlike any other nation on the globe. The people have patience and willing to pay the price for a true transformation within our national DNA, but they must see, at a minimum, some basic results in the second year of this government’s operations. It is still not too late to ensure the relevant changes are made in order to achieve this objective.

(The writer is former Deputy CEO, ZONG and a business strategist and management consultant. He can be contacted at niazmalikofficial@gmail.com)

Niaz Malik, "Dichotomy or political consensus?," Business Recorder. 2020-01-15.
Keywords: Political science , Government's policies , Health system , Divisive politics , Leadership , Poverty , PM Imran Khan , Bangladesh , Pakistan , PTI , HIV , CEO , 2019

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