By Farhad Khan*
Owing to the political scenario of Pakistan it is generally anticipated and expected that Imran Khan could win the 2018 General Elections and become the prime minister of Pakistan. But why would one want Imran Khan to be the next PM of Pakistan? The answer is simple: Expectations.
One would want see Imran Khan as PM because he promised that he would make Pakistan a kind of a country that Qaid-E-Azam envisioned. That would be a progressive Muslim State where people’s rights would be protected and exclusion and discrimination of all sorts would be eliminated. Merit would prevail over privilege. It is evident in many of his policies in KP. Reservation of quota for women and minorities and introduction of merit in recruitment to public sector jobs, mainstreaming madrasahs by providing funds for building colleges and schools in madrasahs and affiliating them with boards of intermediate and secondary education and devolution of developmental funds to district and village councils are some of the examples of such policies.
Qaid-E-Azam wanted Pakistan to be a country where the civil and military establishments are subordinate to the political executives. Owing to the history of establishment’s dominance in Pakistani politics, many are not confident enough that Imran Khan would prevail over the establishment. On the other hand, Imran Khan claims that he would convince the establishment to opt for better policy alternatives.
Many want him to be next PM because he talks and cares about environment. Pakistan is among the ten countries that are most vulnerable to climatic disasters. Pakistan is far behind the minimum forest cover and needs extensive reforestation program. By planting one billion trees and taking steps to stop deforestation in KP, he demonstrated his ability to work for the protection and improvement of environment.
What seems good to many is that he talks about cultivating strong civilian institutions. He talks about strengthening of police, FIA, FBR and NAB. Strong civilian institutions would reclaim the space that they had conceded to other non-civilian institutions and judiciary. His commitment to building institutions is reflected in KP Police Act which is democratic and in keeping with the modern policing in the developed world. His commitment for strengthening of civilian institutions would restore institutional balance and bring social, political and economic stability to Pakistan.
However, many complain that he does not talk about strengthening of the Parliament. It is unknown that how he would free the Parliament from the clutches of undemocratic influences. For the last several years, Parliament is being used as a rubber stamp for approving of undemocratic laws. One such example is the passage of the Electoral Reforms Bill which allowed a person disqualified by the Supreme Court to become the president of a political party. The purpose of the bill was to pave the way for Nawaz Sharif, who is recently disqualified for concealing his assets by the Supreme Court from holding any public office, to become the president of PML-N.
Khan talks about welfare state. A welfare state is one that cares about its citizens. That would need social security programmes. He introduced Sehat Insaf Cards to provide for free medical care to those residents of KP who lack the resources to bear the cost of their healthcare. The results of the initiative are encouraging as many people are treated for ailments, without any cost, which they would be unable to bear the cost without the card.
What is more important that he talks about is the alleviation of poverty from Pakistan. He promised time and again to alleviate the poverty from the country and that makes sense among those who lack resources to arrange for meal three times a day. However, it is not clear that how he would bring an end to the menace of poverty. He has not disclosed yet his strategies for alleviating the poverty.
Khan talks about quality education and access to healthcare for all. His government in KP allocated sufficient resources to health and education. He introduced several reforms to improve governance and service delivery in the two sectors. His government recruited more than 40000 qualified teachers and more the 3500 doctors in KP. The KP government issued health insurance cards to the less resourceful people of the province and established insulin banks in all the districts of KP to provide for insulin free of cost to diabetic patients.
Khan talks about equality and justice. He has a clear programme for ensuring equality and justice through ‘rule of law’ and ‘good governance’. A monitoring report issued by PILDAT showed that his government in KP has showed significant improvements on the indicators of ‘rule of law’ and ‘good governance’. He depoliticized police in KP. He introduced merit into recruitment to the public sector in order to ensure justice for the people and bring efficiency to the government institutions. He passed Right to Information Act through KP Assembly to bring transparency to the government business.
Peace and stability in Afghanistan are necessary for Pakistan’s progress. Imran Khan, being a sportsman, always talks about peace and abhors war. As a member of opposition, he severely criticized US intervention in Afghanistan and emphasized US forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. For many, however, the withdrawal would be the collapse of state authority in Afghanistan and would lead to chaos and anarchy. The Afghan problem needs extensive political and military engagements. Imran Khan needs to come up with an explicit and clear Afghan policy. As a PM, it would be a difficult challenge for him. It is unclear as how he would engage the different stakeholders of the Afghan problem and how he would win over the security establishment of Pakistan in this matter.
*Farhad Khan, Research Student at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad, Pakistan.