Change, that was not to be

Change, that was not to be
Ataullah Esa Khelvi, who belongs to the same hometown as Prime Minister Imran Khan, sang a song for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which became the anthem for those that wanted change.

Imran Yaqub Khan



People dreamed of change, and their dreams were colored with the bright hues of promises; half a million homes, ten million jobs, an avalanche of foreign currency, the end of all of Pakistan’s economic problems, the return of overseas brainpower, the end of foreign loans and finally, the equal provision of law for poor and wealthy alike.

To make this dream a reality, the most powerful quarters in the country jumped into action. Each and every obstacle in the path of the dream was ruthlessly removed. Political rivals were embroiled in cases even before the elections took place.

Finally, the first part of the dream was realized. The government was in place. Now for fulfilling the dreams, or so everyone thought. When six months had passed without hope, critics were told to be patient. When more time passed with increasing doom and gloom, Imran Khan himself told his people, “Don’t panic.”

The first priority of the Kaptaan was the accountability process, in lieu of which corruption probes were launched against every single political rival. When jails, court hearing and armored vehicles proved insufficient to suppress the opposition, then drug smuggling and treason cases were planned. Then came a period in which the proponents of change were happy. They believed that looted wealth will eb brought back to the country. Special Advisors took up space on media screens, announcing the good news that money will soon be brought back from the United Kingdom. Applause followed by anticipation followed by praise for the Advisor on television screens.

And then suddenly, he receded into silence.

Today, there is little doubt left that accountability was nothing but revenge. The ruling party’s incompetence is also no longer a secret. Let em present you with a few glimpses of what the ‘clean’ party did. A few only, because in this era of positive reporting, not everything can be said publicly.

PTI MNA from Rajanpur, Raja Riaz alleged on the floor of the august house that 21 jobs in Pakistan Railways were sold from his area, at the rate of Rs. 150,000 each. He called it a “fraud” and even offered to provide a list of names.

Kamil Ali Agha, an important member of PTI’s ruling coalition, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), said in a news show that the word change has become synonymous with bribery. “Before, people would ask for Rs. 5,000 as a bribe, now he asks for Rs. 50,000. He says change is here, Imran khan is here, bribery rates have risen,” Agha said.

And then PTI’s own federal minister, Fawad Chaudhry, presented a charge sheet against his own government. He implied that PTI’s Chief Minister in Punjab, Usman Buzdar, might be a good man who means well but unless he can deliver, he will not succeed. This comment was followed by a long litany of complaints.

As for the MPAs in Punjab, they are all unhappy with their government, having been given virtually nothing out of the development fund budget, which is barely used.

The Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said that our currency does not allow us to reduce Hajj costs while there is pressure on him to bring the entire Hajj quota under the banner of the government.

The Minister for Industries and Trade admitted that there are many fake employees in Utility Stores Corporation, while daily wagers are not given the minimum wage.

The government is putting in this nonperformance in an atmosphere of global economic depression. The South Asian region is expected to put in lesser growth than was previously expected.

Ever minful of ground realities, Kaptaan declared that peace will only be found in the grave. So what then should the people do? The answer lies in the tragic story of Mir Hassan, a 35-year-old father of five from Karachi. Unemployed since months, without any business to support himself, Mir Hassan set himself on fire when he could not buy warm clothes for his children.

Mir Hassan followed Imran Khan’s philosophy of finding peace in the grave, but what of his children and his wife? Will they too have to turn to the grave too? Mir Hassan’s story, in one form or another, is true right now for most households in Pakistan.

Change and Kaptaan, both have become infamous. What or who is behind this infamy? Well, let me quote a literary example to answer that question. In a ceremony in Hyderabad Deccan, Maulana Sherani met a fan who loved his poem which had the stanza “I am infamous in the city of girls,” Poor Maulana took a deep breath and said that the poem in question was written by his son. “He is merely infamous, but I have been humiliated.”