For those who ask, and those who troll: I am not a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and I do not work for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government in any capacity. As a voting Pakistani I have supported Imran Khan and PTI since November 2011, and my support, despite my dissatisfaction with myriad things, remains unwavering. So far. To me, the distinction has never been blurry: supporting a party and a leader is not, in any form, a blind following. A leader is not a deity to be accepted unquestioning, eyes and mind closed.
My support is simple. Stemming from an idealism to see Pakistan be the best version of itself, I am there for the good, the positive, the rational, the do-able, the people-centric, the empathetic. I also see and comment and criticize on all that is wrong—the big promises, the misplaced optimism, lack of preparedness in many areas, inconsistency of words and actions, inept people in high positions, and weak messaging. The chasm between what is and what is not and what should be and what must be and what is shown and what will be grows wider every day. The result is a mishmash that is a not-so-effective representation of a government that is doing a great deal, needs to do more, and should showcase it better.
In my limited capacity as a columnist and a tweeter, I try to focus on the positives of the incumbent government while not being indifferent to its flaws. In my in-person and virtual interactions with members of the provincial and federal cabinets and parliamentarians—people I know personally or online, my one observation, my main grievance remains unaltered: the PTI government is not doing enough to get its message across and to communicate more effectively with the people of Pakistan.
So much is to be done, the first thing is to listen. Paying attention to every genuine complaint and constructive criticism is a colossal undertaking, but it is also the first step to ensure that every voice is being heard.
I tweeted on November 10, 2021: “Those who say the first-time government of Imran Khan has failed after three years, please name or list the issues that you have with the PTI government, your genuine critiques of the work that is being done, and your grievances.”
Most noticeable were responses from PTI supporters.
There is no ambiguity in the words of PTI supporters. Focused on the individual and collective wellbeing of every Pakistani, they want the party and the leader they voted for to turn their electoral promises into a definite reality. Every Pakistani, despite their political and other differences, have interchangeable expectations and demands: safety of life; a stable economy and a strong rupee; low prices of essential items; clean water, uninterrupted electricity, and cheap fuel; quality education and healthcare; a reliable justice system; a solid taxation system that is not merely wealthy friendly; opportunities of employment and ease to establish small, medium and large businesses; assurance of advancement in proportion to talent and hard work; infrastructural development; across-the-board accountability of corrupt practices; non-appeasement of extremist organizations; a categorical stance of not forming any political or other alliance with any extremist organisation; a broad-based foreign policy focused on strengthening Pakistan’s stature regionally and internationally; reliable sources of news and information; a free and responsible media; police and other bureaucratic reforms; accessibility to elected representatives and ministers; autonomy of institutions; a clear delineation of civilian and military power; a fair and transparent electoral process; and conscientious and truthful representation of government’s work.
The countdown has begun. Less than two years remain for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to create or at least finish the foundation work for a Naya Pakistan, the promise on which 16,851,240 Pakistanis voted for PTI. The possibility of this number increasing or decreasing depends on making the expectations and demands of Pakistanis come true. If not all, many.
There is one simple principal test to win the 2023 election: real, people-centric, Pakistan-centric tangible work that attests without any fanfare that Imran Khan is a man of his word, a leader of his promise.