• Saleem Qamar Butt

PM needs to prioritise handling of challenges confronting Pakistan.

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

Perhaps for the first time, the political government, judiciary and armed forces are on the same page on all internal and external issues.


On August 18 2018, it was a dream comes true for newly sworn in PM Imran Khan who had struggled for 22 long years to form a Government in Pakistan with the highest pledge to deliver justice as per the name of his political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. As if his hyperbole pre-elections promises were not enough to raise public expectations; his announcement of the 100 days agenda not only further added to the public desire for quick realisation of hopes but also handed over political opponents;a weak link to unduly exploit. The honeymoon of power was short lived, as the PTI Government soon found out the enormity of challenges they inherited from the yester governments with the dwindling economy being the most urgent.


While the new government has been able to set the right direction on some important issues, there is a lot that it will have to accomplish in the coming five years. The PTI government has a mix of old and new hands, yet the vibrant and bold leadership of PM Imran Khan whose personal honesty and sincerity to the country is even acknowledged by his opponents, continues to be seen as a silver lining by most Pakistanis. However, after setting the compass in first three months and satisfactory accomplishments on reviving the crippled economy, government will be well advised to get more focused on internal and external macro issues instead of haphazard and weak attempts here and there.


On internal front, people of Pakistan wish to see a stable economy, steady Rupee value, removal of uncertainties attached with monetary policies, trade, housing sector, accountability, quick dispensation of justice and clearing of backlog cases in courts, firm security situation, priority handling of water and energy crises, provision of standardized free or at least affordable education for all children and maximizing jobs opportunities are a few to mention.


In the last seven decades, we have remained in the American camp which feels comfortable in dealing with individuals rather than with the governments for using Pakistan as a pawn or as a hired gun in their overall strategy for South and Central Asia.

A Herculean task, yet with devotion and commitment and time bound delivery by the dedicated miniseries with strict oversight by Parliamentary Committees can propel the boat in the right direction before the next election become due.It would be much better if accountability is done in a manner that it does not throw a wrench in the running public or private machines i.e. must not make people jobless, contractors hamstrung due to stalled payments and frozen projects making investors go berserk.  NAB must work dispassionately and across the board with the priority to recover plundered money for which carrot and stick policy may work better than stick alone. Prime Minister and his team should focus on highlighting the opportunities that Pakistan offers and the benefits attached with our blessed land.


On the external front, it would be better to realign and refresh our Foreign Policy having learnt lessons from the past mistakes and making it run on the principle of economic-diplomacy. We may be better off by avoiding tweets and counter tweets especially by the Prime Minister; instead, foreign office spokespersons should be the only ones to issue a well calibrated and wholesome Government statement on any foreign issue. In the last seven decades, we have remained in the American camp,which feels comfortable in dealing with individuals rather than with the governments for using Pakistan as a pawn or as a hired gun in their overall strategy for South and Central Asia. Ironically, despite playing major role in making the US, the singular super power as a result of former Soviet Union’ defeat in Afghanistan, we were never regarded as a strategic partner but a paltry transitory partner, though leadership of the times kept suffering from false self-inflated egos and criminally deluded the nation.


Prime Minister Khan has taken a very good start by setting the record straight but beyond that it must not cause undue friction with the US or any other country. Ministry of Foreign Affairs should take advantage from the self respect induced by PM and work for further diversifying our relation with maximum countries of the world with well identified and quantified economic, security and other strategic interests. Whether it is India or Afghanistan, Pakistan must not seem to beg for dialogue from a position of weakness; resolution of lingering disputes and issues through talks has to be a mutual process with exercise of all available leverages. A strong and cohesive internal front is a pre-requisite for successful diplomacy; therefore, all ministries have to work hand in glove.


In the midst of such enormous challenges at hand, Prime Minister Imran Khan will be well advised to prepare a priority list, give dedicated responsibilities to concerned ministries with clear timeframes and objectives to be achieved, put in place parliamentary committees for strict oversight and transparency, restore public faith, and allow systems and projects to run by just removing the afflicting ills. On internal front recovery of plundered and laundered money by following the international examples need to be followed. Conspiracies and conspirators should be identified through national intelligence agencies and nipped in the bud. On the external front, assuming a leadership role among OIC countries and restoring self respect among the comity of the nation should be done as exemplified by Turkey and Malaysia. For a change, perhaps for the first time, the political government, judiciary and armed forces are on the same page on all internal and external issues defeating all narratives built by hostile countries in the last one decade by a lot of efforts. Best Wishes for Pakistan!


The writer is a senior retired Army officer with rich experience in Military & Intelligence Diplomacy and Strategic Analysis. He can be reached at sqbutt61@gmail.com


Published in Daily Times, December 10th 2018.

Published in Business News

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