Saturday, 12 July 2014

Why I'm Keeping Faith in PMLN

This is in response to the article Why I'm losing trust in the PML-N by Adnan Rasool.
Mr. Rasool starts off with the following line.
"It is very traumatic to lose trust in something you have believed in for a long time"
Let me set the record straight, right away. Contrary to the impression he tries to create, the author is not a 'long-time' believer in PMLN. He joined the PMLN campaign shortly before 2013 elections. His twitter timeline (@AdnanRasool) will confirm this assertion.

The author opens by criticizing the way government prepared the federal budget. An absolutely nonsensical statement that the "finance ministry ran the show" does not do justice to the authors wisdom. Who else should lead the preparation of the budget? The interior minister, the planning minister or someone else? Every ministry sends its budgetary requirements and recommendations to the finance ministry well before the budget. This is part and parcel of every ministers job and no invitation to participate is required to be sent out. Budget preparation, by definition, means allocating limited resources to a broader set of needs. Once all ministries have made their expectations known, a final decision on allocation rests with the finance ministry which seeks guidance from the Prime Minister on the priorities of the government. It is an exercise that inevitably leaves some with less than what they had hoped for and they must modify their plans accordingly.

The author also wonders "why do the most powerful people in the Federal Cabinet do not happen to be elected members" perhaps taking a shot at the finance minister. I will not delve into the merits of calling a senator 'non-elected', but can the writer please enlighten us as to which elected PMLN member is more qualified for the finance minister's job than Ishaq Dar?

The author goes on to criticize the 'Punjab Governance model." If we subtract the malice from the authors words, the model can be reworded as
Political appointments of elected members to technical positions are to be done away with. Cabinet positions shall not be used as political reward as this leads to inefficiency and corruption. A small cabinet with efficient ministers whose qualifications match the job will work closely with the chief minister. Officers of good repute, having necessary technical skills, shall report directly to the CM to minimize bureaucratic delays.
It is this 'Punjab Model' that gave us the Lahore Metro in 11 months! Perhaps the writer prefers the Sindh Model where the 16Km Lyari express-way is still incomplete after 7 years? Or maybe he has faith in the KP model where talk is cheap but nothing really gets done?  The writer forgets that it is this 'Punjab Model' that helped PMLN sweep the elections in Punjab with 3/4th majority! Pursuing any other model after elections would amount to political dishonesty. The writer might also recall that it was the governance in Punjab that won him over to PMLN!

In his famous election day victory speech of May 12, 2013 Nawaz Sharif requested the people to pray for an absolute majority. This prayer was motivated by his previous experience of how a weak government is forced to bow to internal and external pressures and compromises on its election promises. Now that the prayer has been answered, the PM is refusing to relent to internal & external forces which is causing the current tensions.

Losing or keeping faith in a political party should naturally depend upon the party's performance and not on internal party politics. The writer however omits the subject entirely. Any article that analyses the one year performance of PMLN but fails to highlight any of the numerous achievements should put a question mark on the authors motive. Securing $32bn investment from China for the Pak-China economic corridor, unprecedented investment in the power sector including mega projects such as Gadani Power Park & Dasu Dam, an exponential rise in forex reserves, stabilization of currency, GSP+ status, transparent 3G/4G auction, a promising start to the privatization program with the sale of UBL/PPL shares, no corruption scandals, securing financing from World bank, the list is long and impressive. Here is a Google map showing the government initiatives in just the power sector. If this fails to impress, I cannot imagine what will? So despite inner wrangling for power, real or imaginary, between ministers / bureaucrats I am keeping Faith in PMLN.

In conclusion, the author condones 'the mischief of external forces' by making the utterly shocking statement "I do not blame them for what they are doing given the way this government acts"! Nothing, absolutely nothing justifies interference of non-democratic forces. I am sorry Sir, but you are no democrat and someone PMLN can well do without. The author is disappointed, this much I will accept. I would advise him to collect his thoughts and rethink the reasons for his disappointment. Does it really stem from the governance of PMLN or is it more of a personal nature?

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