Pakistani men sit near a poster of Pakistan's cricketer-turned politician and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party Imran Khan, in Islamabad on July 30, 2018. Pakistan's World Cup cricket hero Imran Khan is set to become prime minister of the nuclear-armed nation of 207 million, with an economy inching toward crisis and perennial conflict on its borders. Running the country will take considerable statecraft from Khan's relatively inexperienced party. He brings charisma, international name recognition and a sizeable election victory, though not enough to form a majority government. Photo: AFP

The government of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will complete its first 100 days soon. People had a lot of expectations of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. In fact many people are judging his government based on his promises of what would be accomplished in the first hundred days.

The opposition is very critical on his achievements thus far, and to some extent, it is right that he has not achieved what he promised. But on the other hand, let’s explore why he was unable to achieve his targets.

There exists a deadlock on the appointment of the chairman of the Public Accountability Committee (PAC). The opposition is demanding adherence to the tradition of the previous few governments, that the position should be given to the leader of the opposition.

It is true that there was such a tradition. However, the current leader of the opposition, Shehbaz Sharif, is under investigation for massive corruption, mismanagement, nepotism and alleged involvement in the deaths of 14 people in the “Model Town” incident. It is too soon to conclude whether or not he is guilty – that is up to the National Accountability Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency, and the courts to judge – but with such serious allegations, he cannot be appointed chairman of the PAC.

There is no constitutional requirement to offer this job to the leader of opposition. It is the absolutely right of the ruling party to offer this post to anyone it thinks appropriate, either from the opposition or the ruling party. But the opposition parties are standing firm and there seems to be no way to end this deadlock.

Because of this deadlock and opposition behavior in the National Assembly, the parliamentary Speaker has been unable to form subcommittees, and the legislation process has been stalled. Only one “mini-budget” bill has been passed by the new government since taking the oath of office; money bills are not required to be passed by subcommittees, unlike most other legislation. So it is true, the PTI-led government has failed to pass much legislation to date, but who has caused this failure? Again, it is the opposition.

First of all, it is not rational to judge a government based on just 100 days in office. This is especially so given the prevailing situation in Pakistan, which is facing complex and complicated problems, so expectations of miracles are not logical.

In fact, it you compare Imran Khan’s administration with the previous few governments, you may be convinced by my thinking. He is a human being, he may not be perfect, he is prone to make mistakes or wrong decisions, he might make misjudgments or miscalculate, but his honesty, integrity, and loyalty to Pakistan cannot be denied. He is the third-most-popular leader in the history of Pakistan, after Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. And now Imran Khan enjoys public support, and the masses are with him.

That said, I would not hesitate to point out his weaknesses. Some of these are listed below.

The PTI is still in opposition mode – it has to come out of this and behave like a ruling party.

Khan’s cabinet needs to be strengthened. Its current composition includes party loyalists, but who may not be very competent. A few of his cabinet members belong to allied parties like the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), where he also has to compromise on merit to keep them on his side to maintain his majority in the National Assembly.

We understand his situation, but he needs to induct more people into his cabinet who can deliver and run the government. New cabinet members could be technocrats or professionals, or prominent figures, but their inclusion must be based on merit. There might be limitations to how many ministers or advisers can be inducted, but there are ways to involve “rescuers” as consultants. Pakistan is full of competent, capable and honest people, but Khan needs to select only the right person for the right job.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to address the nation on November 29 and he is expected to share his achievements and his grievances. But he should focus on the future line of action. The people of Pakistan understand him and the situation very well. We stand with him and extend full support in his endeavor to make Pakistan a strong, stable and prosperous nation.

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Zamir Awan

Professor Zamir Ahmed Awan is a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Chinese Studies Center of Excellence, Islamabad, Pakistan. Posted to the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing as science counselor (technical affairs) from 2010-16, he was responsible for promoting cooperation between Pakistan and China in science, technology, and higher education.

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