Even if there is something people expect from PTI, when campaigning for the 2018 elections and immediately after its victory, it is honesty, integrity, ethics and fair play. This, however, has been the main slogan used by the party for the 22 years since its launch.
Imran Khan’s own reputation also revolves around these qualities, as an honest person who genuinely wants to serve his people. In this sense, there is little doubt that Imran is almost certainly not corrupt, at least in the sense we have seen among leaders in the past. But then people are concerned about crises like those involving atta, sugar, fuel and other things that leave doubts over the question of what honesty really means and what it contains.
But what is more damaging than this is the government’s performance and the way it is managed. While the actions of the ministers left many wondering what they were thinking, there must be a way around this problem. So far, the PTI government appears to have found very little or no. We are currently in a situation where there is a shipment of the vaccine in Karachi, but it could not be distributed initially because the Drugs Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) has not set a selling price for it. After these prices were fixed and sent to the federal cabinet for approval, private companies that had imported the vaccine objected, saying the Russian bottles had been sold to it at a higher cost than originally promised. This issue is currently being investigated. Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world that compels people to buy essential vaccines privately.
With what appears to be a consistent supply now coming in, there is a problem why the government is not accelerating its rollout so that more people can be protected from the Covid-19 virus, which is spreading rapidly in the country. A new British variant, much more transmissible and possibly more lethal to hit many parts of the country. We are already getting reports that for the first time the virus is also spreading to small towns and villages, where people have less opportunity to receive treatment. After all, they can’t actually go to the hospital, because most hospitals are overcrowded and don’t have room for more patients. We wonder if this is a situation the government wants to maintain and for how long. There must be more urgent efforts to stop this virus, somewhat similar to what we have seen in India.
There are many other problems. The government’s performance is far below expected. There are many examples, from police reform to other areas of life. But there are also questions about how the media act to perform its basic services in getting news to the public. As the well-known slogan implies, the media’s job is to provide as much news as possible, as accurately as possible, as far as possible, at all times. But on television we see news anchors inviting one government leader after another to talk about government affairs and how this is going. Of course, to some extent, this is necessary. It is also true that due to the lack of resources on television channels, our program format has become one in which a political leader is thrown against a rival so that they can engage in loud and vocal arguments, keeping the audience entertained. In other words, what should be news or a more serious analysis of a situation has been turned into a form of entertainment.
What we need to see on television are the people. We need to hear about families where the main breadwinner has been unemployed for months and where the Ehsaas Card offers absolutely no real relief. It is these people who are found everywhere throughout the country, who are the most important. They cannot be ignored.
More than the question of how politics within the PDM plays out is the question of how people live in their homes anywhere in Pakistan. We need to hear about how they managed, or how they failed to do so. The number of working children has increased according to the available figures. People are discovering that although they can make several hundred rupees a week, it can help households stand up and survive perhaps the most difficult period in our recent history. At times like these we need to highlight the plight of these people, not only so that people can offer more charity considering that many of them have given what they can and more, but so that there is more pressure on the government to work on policies. that can help people recover from their current situation.
Of course, a full recovery from the destruction of the Covid-19 virus will take some time. This is true all over the world. But we must start planning now and also plan for recovery from the other setbacks we have suffered over the last few months. This includes unemployment, which started before the Covid-19 virus hit the country.
There is also the problem of crafting a cohesive foreign policy, with the first signs seen a few days ago. However, consistency and more regular direction on this policy is necessary so that we can convince the world that Pakistan is a country looking for a way forward and not a country looking to retreat to the Middle Ages.
The writer is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor.
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