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Pakistan’s Imran Khan has a huge constituency of reform – will he seize the opportunity?

“Reform and struggle” have been the mantra of Recep Tayyip Erdogan-led Justice and Development (AK) Party’s success since 2003 in electoral politics in Turkey.

Turkey’s geo-politics must differ from other Muslim countries’ anywhere on the global map but it does have lessons for “constituency of politics and constituency of reforms”.


In Pakistan, Imran Khan-led Pakistan Movement for Justice (Tehreek-e-Insaf) Party – PTI — is in third year of its first term at the federal government. It was after Khan’s relentless 22 years of political struggle that he rose to lead the country of over 220 million souls with many challenges at hand.

However, nothing can justify if PTI does not deliver – of course including reforms – both internally and externally.

After many consultations with Pakistan observers and what is understood from the events unfolding inside the country, three issues demand attention viz-a-viz economy, political stability and efficiency in bureaucracy and judiciary.

While it may demand a clap or two for Khan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi that Pakistan got highest 163 votes to be re-elected to UN’s Human Rights Council for next three years, India will continue to embarrass Islamabad for failing to convince reluctant Arabs to help convene a special session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over Kashmir.

First things first: Pakistan has already moved into a post-coup era. Let there be no doubt about it. Whether you call Khan’s government a hybrid one (of politicians and former military officials) or that is backed by military, Pakistan’s struggle for a stable political government is winning.

Khan’s is a third such “civilian government” where transition of power has been smooth and without any hurdle, if so, created by the imagined powers.

However, for a civilian government to succeed, responsibility lies on the shoulders of the political parties to deliver – reform in governance and devolve powers to the ground zero.

The current political turmoil triggered by the loosely knit Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — a coalition of opposition parties whose leaders are facing various corruption charges — gives ample opportunity to Khan and his PTI to realize its potential of delivering to the masses.

How is that possible? At least not by manufacturing conflicts among the national institutions.

Khan’s regular and direct engagement with people through regular media interviews has brought a sense of responsibility that someone is in charge and who cares for them.

It is not enough. Many a times events have passed which later were rolled back because Prime Minister’s Office “was not taken on board”.

Khan has to set his house in order. Transferring and posting officers here and there would not give relief to people – delivery of governance would do. You cannot oust all of Pakistan’s bureaucrats to bring transparency.

Your minister and the lawmaker have to have the will, ability and capability to get work done and reach every voter who chose you to solve his issues of inflation, food, housing and jobs.

The PTI government cannot blame the media for “not touting Pakistan narrative” when your ministers, lawmakers do not tire by remaining stuck to TV anchors round the clock.

Instead of focusing on their work, the government lawmakers are seen picking holes in opposition parties — let rule of law take its own course – those corrupt will be dealt by courts, loopholes in PTI government will face the axe by voters!

That is what is called “Vote ko Izzat Do” – respect the vote – deliver!

Turkey was producing just over 30,000 MW of electricity in 2002. Its capacity has crossed 81,000 in 2020. Its defense industry fulfilled just 30% of its needs 17 years back, today, Turkish drones are changing warfare rules and the industry is pegged over $14 billion a year fulfilling domestic demand by at least 70%.

I am not drawing comparisons – not at all. But it shows that the government of the day in Ankara is able, has the capacity to deliver and has brought the country among top 20 economies of the day.

Currently, Turkey has 206 universities in its 81 provinces, far too high than what was in 2002 before the AKP rose to power. Its varsities employ nearly 165,000 academics where over 8 million, including Pakistani students are taught.

“Now, the focus is on research and regional specialization,” President Erdogan told a ceremony recently.

How is it possible for Turkey to realize such goals and not for Pakistan?

Pakistan is in a unique geo-political situation. There is no doubt in that. It has borne the brunt the Afghan war, hosting nearly 7 million refugees and Kashmir conflict. It is in a constant war-like situation with India. There may be dozens of excuses, but Islamabad has infinite reasons to set its house in order, have a vision and set goals for future generations to come.

PDM accusations against the military establishment are not knew but yes, this time, they have been severe.

It demands Prime Minister Khan to sit down with all stake holders and look inwards – and draw the redlines.

Pakistan army has brought back sense of security and stabilization in the country by spilling hot blood of its soldiers in past 20 years. The nation is indebted to its sacrifices.

One has to make a difference between propaganda on social media and situation on ground. Pakistan is not Turkey where penetration of internet is deep. So, no need to get nervous about for few comments.

The time has come where Khan has to be decisive – whether he succeeds or not, his every move will decide where Pakistan will be ten years from now.

It is never too late: sit back, think and broaden the scope of engagement and move forward with a strong push.

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