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BY |HAMID MIR|

Several loyal aides of Prime Minister Imran Khan are increasingly worried about the possible failure of their leader.A few days back, a Federal minister informed me in a concerned tone that he comes to the office at 9:00 A.M and doesnt go back till 10:00 or 11:00 PM at night.

Working in the office entire day and ordering fast food with his own money was taking a toll on Minister’s weight. I asked the minister, why is he spending this much time in the office? His reply was that his leader, the Prime Minister, does the same. I further inquired about the lack of improvement in the government’s performance, despite PM Khan and his cabinet working 14, 15 hours? The minister quipped: “Hamid Bhai, the problem is only 5 or 6 ministers are serving like this with utmost dedication, if the entire cabinet worked like this we could achieve anything, its just a few of us who are aware that if we fail then our leader will fail and if he fails then we, the hardworking ministers, are doomed, too. When I asked, why only 5 or 6 ministers work for 14 hours a day and not the rest? The minister this time said in a cautious tone, the other ministers also work, but they dont work beyond office hours of 4-5pm because their political survival isnt entirely dependent on Imran Khans success or failure. If Imran Khan went down, it wont have any effect on those ministers as they would join the next government, just like they did now or in the past, but we on the other hand came in government because of Imran Khan and will go down with him, and it is this fear that makes us work like we do.

This discussion lead me to believe that Imran Khan’s cabinet is divided into two groups. One group consists of members who joined Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) prior to 2011 and another which consists of members who joined recently, including ministers from coalition partners of the PTI-led government. A few days back I asked a minister, who happens to be one of Imran’s old aides, about possible fears pertaining to the latter’s failure to perform? He was quick to admit this and said, few days ago during a cabinet meeting, I was whispering to another minister that if we look around us we see very few familiar faces but mostly new people whove just joined PTI surround us, to which my colleague said, dont complain, without these turncoats who abandoned their parties for PTI, we wouldnt have formed the government, but my response was because of these turncoats we will fail to constitute another government in the future, their faces dishearten me to the extent where I feel I am in the cabinet of old Pakistan, not the promised new Pakistan.

Government ministers are not the only ones worried about the possible failure of Imran Khan, but some leaders of the main opposition parties, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) are worried, too. I have myself heard various leaders from these parties say that, if Imran fails it may be deemed as the failure of entire Parliamentary system in our country and a new system may be brought to substitute our Parliamentary democracy. I did not agree with these views of the opposition members and held a point before them that, bringing a new system and constitution is not possible in our current, delicate situation. Therefore, a patriot Pakistani would never think about abrogation of constitution. Any such gossip of switching to a Presidential form of government may make for an interesting point in table talks, but any real attempt to forcefully implement it would be like trawling through a river of blood. So, instead of this futile discussion, the opposition must strive to make our current system successful. A senior opposition figure said that they wanted this system to be successful and had constituted standing committees with the Speaker of National Assembly, but some insecure ministers keep asking us about their fate. And, when we ask these ministers about their insecurities, they reply that the incompetence and negligence showed by the Punjab government after Sahiwal tragedy, Imran’s Waseem Akram (Chief Minister Punjab, Usman Buzdar) had now become Mansoor Akhtar, and if he is not substituted soon, then our team will lose.

Personally, I am not in favour of comparing Usman Buzdar with Mansoor Akhtar because the latter may have tanked in One-day matches but at least scored a century in Test Cricket? Few loyalists and sympathisers of PM Khan have advised him to change CM Punjab, but the PM has declined. He believes even if Usman Buzdar never becomes as successful as Waseem Akram, he may one day score a century like Mansoor Akhtar did, after playing for so long. We also had great expectations from CM Buzdar, but so far none have materialized. Usman Buzdars performance as CM Punjab may improve after a while, but he doesnt have much time to prove his worth, as Imran Khan will not be able to defend him for much longer. Imran currently has no potential threats looming from the opposition benches. The threats lie from within. Opposition is merely relying on small mischief at the moment. PMLN members are nowadays busy irritating poor people by going to them and chanting ‘Imran Khan Zindabad’, which triggers their repressed emotions, which have already reached a limit due to high cost of living and inflation. These poor labourers then start criticizing Imran Khan and activists who impersonate as Imran’s sympathizers then record their outrageous videos to spread them on social media. PMLN has learned this art of mischief from PTI. When PTI was in the opposition, it too used to use same sort of tactics. Both parties must remember that verbally abusing each other on social media may render them politically weak.

Moreover, by recently abandoning confrontations with the Army and judiciary, PMLN has given PTI and Railways minister Sheikh Rasheed a new headache, who now thinks this may be due to a deal. Sheikh Rasheed lambasts this alleged deal day and night, but fails to identify the second party besides PMLN in this so-called deal. Everyone knows Nawaz Sharif has a heart condition for a long time. If the medical board of Lahore Services Hospital has declared that Nawaz requires proper heart care, owing to his high blood pressure, sugar levels and kidney pain, then how does it constitute as a deal? These ailments can be treated in Pakistan. Hence, it is the governments duty to provide adequate medical facilities to Nawaz Sharif within Pakistan. To play deal card in this situation only reflects the governments insecurity over the fact that they have failed to deliver any major changes over the past 6 months, as opposed to their promises. Rather than correcting their course, theyre busy creating a diversion to hide their faults and allay pressure. The government keeps forgetting that by talking about a possible deal or NRO, they are making state Institutions controversial.

Come out of this fear of failure, improve your performance and governance or otherwise your fate will be similar to the fate of Nawaz Sharif.

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