My dear Imran
Congratulations. Not only did you and your party deserve this electoral victory, so did our disenchanted people. Please don’t let it become a pyrrhic victory. You have pushed the old decrepit, corrupt and murderous politicians firmly towards the dustbin of history where they belong. Don’t let them crawl out again and send that are left be-hind into the dustbin too. That will be a great service.
Needless to say, I am very happy over your victory but I will desist from being too effusive because people know how friendly we are and for how long, so it will detract from credibility. “Oh he had to say so,” I can hear them quip. “What else did you expect?” So let me say it straight. In fact, in future I will always point out what I disagree with and acknowledge what good you do. I will say it as I see it.
You are already showing signs of moving from idealism to realism. Softly, softly does it but don’t lose your fire and zeal at the al-tar of pragmatism. Don’t give your opponents ammunition to use against you. All this noise about rigging can only be put to rest by holding an open, high-level investigation on the conduct of the elections at all levels. Put it to rest and put a silencer on the howling of losers.
Yes, there was pre-poll rigging done by some pseudo national and foreign media to pollute the minds of our people. Luckily, few read them, but whatever their effect, it contributed to your victory. “If these people are against him, there must be something good about Imran,” they felt.
Imran, you have won the elections but not quite. You have the largest number of seats but not a simple majority of your own. That is the problem. So the losers are, as usual, crying rigging. The sheer incompetence of the Election Commission, all selected by the PPP and PML-N, has given a fillip to their cacophony of complaints. The ECP should be hung and quartered for snatching controversy from the jaws of victory. Imran, you have fallen just short of a simple majority where you could have formed a government on your own and implemented your agenda unhindered. But now you have to enter into coalitions, and therein lies the rub. It will be seen as compromise and I know that it is not in your nature to compromise.
Wouldn’t it have been better for you to form the opposition and let the wailing cats try and form a government? You would have come out of it taller and won the next elections out-right. Seriously.
Now you my friend are dependent on independents and on other par-ties. You have taken the MQM-P in coalition. All this is making some unhappy. Joining up with the MQM that has turned Karachi into a living hell is not going to make you smell of roses. But there’s a difference. Altaf Hussain led the old MQM; he is now done and dusted. This is a new MQM minus Altaf, so treat it as such. Let’s be charitable and give it a chance. None of their demands is entirely without merit.
You have dribbled the ball into the ‘D’ and won a penalty kick while all the losers are standing in the mouth of the ‘D’ to stop you. I know that you will kick it in, but there’s many a slip between the goalposts and the kick.
The losers have already ganged-up against you and are screaming like banshees, saying they won’t let you form government or run it properly if you do. They call their meetings ‘All Parties Conference’ (APC) whereas it should rightly be called the ‘All Losers Gang’ or ALG. They are like cats with their tails tied together, pulling in different directions, unlikely to get very far. The gang’s spokespersons are interlopers in parliament without a constituency or a vote. They got in through the thief’s back door. Their only merit is sycophancy of a very high order that few can match coupled with an equally high degree of shamelessness. This is what makes them want to hog the limelight. Add the unelected 60 free fund women in the National Assembly alone and you get some idea of how warped our system is. We have talked about it before and we will talk about it again in this space.
As I write, the ALG is holding an-other illegal meeting in the Speaker’s house though the Speaker is sup-posed to be neutral. This is another instance of how bad and anti-democratic this system is. But the gang can still be quite a pain to the extent that they can stall the government while it can.
That’s not all. Pakistan has many external ill wishers. You can be sure that many in this odious gang will be in their corner. Achakzai, Asfandyar and others are already there; so are our fake democrats and pseudo liberals who will rush to America’s corner. Imran you have got your battles cut out for you.
Ministers are all very well, but Imran you will have to select the best amongst the available bureaucrats and laterally get some in from the private sector
You are busy attracting independents to your side and some other parties as well. But this gang is not an organized Mafia. It should be possible to untie their tails and let them loose to catch mice.
Once you are sworn in you will form your cabinet. The pool from which to select is known and is not brimming with geniuses. Actually, the bureaucracy is the backbone of government. A federal secretary is the legal head of a ministry or department, not the minister. The minister’s job is to formulate policy in cabinet; the bureaucracy’s job is to implement it. The caveat here is that the bureaucracy must be good, as ours used to be. Sadly, successive governments have destroyed and debased it, starting from Mr. Bhutto. He removed the constitutional protection of bureaucrats and turned them into person-al servants. Successive governments made matters worse. Knowing that they were without protection, they could no longer say ‘No’ to the illegal orders of their ministers and prime ministers. They have to be taught again that they are public servants, not governments. Ministers are all very well, but Imran you will have to select the best amongst the available bureaucrats and laterally get some in from the private sector. You just have to read the CSS exam paper and you will faint. Be careful that the glittering cup you have won does not turn into a poisoned chalice.
We face an immediate and potent existential threat, which is our dire financial condition, with America trying to take full advantage of it to bring us to heel. You have many options, the biggest is 200 million resident Pakistanis and many millions of overseas Pakistanis. With your cur-rent credibility they will contribute a significant amount of money to mitigate the threat. Expedite account-ability of all while ensuring justice. Learn from the Saudi and Chinese examples. You can get enough money back to make a significant difference.
A difficult method would be to start a lottery for a ‘Save Pakistan Fund’. Many countries have done it very successfully, but the misguided clerics will try and thwart you saying it is gambling. Ask your people to find another name for it, which will be acceptable.
Real democracy is down up not top down, which makes local governments vital. And please no Electoral Colleges and indirect elections at any level because they debase and dilute the will of the people and detract from democracy. You have pushed the right buttons, like austerity and simplicity. Even though many are symbolic they are important in re-fashioning our national mentality and ethos.
There are many more existential threats that you know about and are in your manifesto. You can’t implement all of them in five years what with the hurdles your internal and external opponents are cooking up, but if you put us on the right track and in the right direction, it will be your success and give you a much bigger win in the next elections.
The most important thing that you have said is that you will make Pakistan an Islamic Welfare State. We will talk about that in the coming weeks for it is the justification of the making and continued existence of Pakistan. Never forget that you are but a man. Please remember what is said in the Surah by your name in the Holy Quran: “Hold on fast to the rope of God and the rope of the people.” By rope is meant your covenant with God and the people who are His vicegerents. People means humanity. God be with you my friend. I will pray for your success every day for in your success lies our success.
By Humayun Gauhar