n its third year in power, tough times for the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government seem to be over. The party is quite comfortable now as compared to the previous two years when it comes to development, good governance, and public service.
The PTI came into power carrying the heavy burden of its pro-people slogans and promises. It remained under pressure from the opposition and the masses for not fulfilling the promises made during the election campaign of 2018.
The first two years were marked by shaky governance coupled with ill-planned decisions and frequent policy reversals. The poor growth of the economy led the government to replace the team midway. On the domestic front, governance problems led to the issues such as price hikes that remain the most irritating subject for the government.
The PTI government has gained strength in its third year in power. It succeeded in getting the budget passed. There was a danger of the budget being blocked in the centre or in Punjab. The Jehangir Tareen factor has been all but neutralized.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar remained successful in allaying the concerns of the allies. The pressure on the government has eased
though the issues concerning the public directly such as inflation and increasing utility bills are yet to be addressed.
The campaign against the Usman Buzdar government continued for almost three years from different quarters and sometimes from unknown quarters but he remains safe for now. The PML-N is not clear whether it wants an in-house change in Punjab or let the Buzdar government limp its way to 2023. The PML-Q is not planning to march out of the coalition any time soon.
The establishment also seems in no mood to act against the PTI governments. Though the PML-N is also manoeuvring for space on the chessboard, the PTI government has gained confidence since it won the AJK elections. All these developments suggest that the PTI is moving with full ease. The PTI government has another two years to improve its acceptability among the masses by improving governance, controlling inflation, and taking pro-people decisions.
Anyhow, as the government has entered into the fourth year of its mandated tenure, the Imran-led government has a mixed scorecard. It may have lapses yet it has much to boast of. On the domestic front, the government gained success by launching several initiatives for overseas Pakistanis, farmers, industrialists, and businessmen.
The Balakot incident and Pakistan’s mature response to Indian aggression was perhaps Prime Minister Imran Khan’s best hour. The government earned pride by negotiating with the foreign governments for the return of Pakistani prisoners completing term in foreign jails.
On two fronts, the PTI government can claim due credit: The successful handling of Covid-19 and disbursement of cash to the poor masses under Ehsaas programme. After Honk Kong and New Zealand, Pakistan ranked third in the world in fighting the virus. The NCOC has been a success story and if such efficiency can be replicated in other areas of governance, the PTI could certainly improve its performance in its fourth year.
Coming to the successes of the PTI government so far, it can be safely said that overseas Pakistanis remain a priority for the government. Efforts for the right to vote to overseas are still underway despite resistance from the opposition parties. Agriculture, construction of dams, South Punjab initiative, work on climate change, 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, Clean, Green Pakistan, Universal health coverage, education, and Kamyab Jawan Programme can be termed as successes of the PTI government.
For the first time in the history of the country after the Ayub era, work on 10 big and medium sized dams is in progress. If completed in a ten years’ time, it would be a different Pakistan altogether. The government has taken lead in facilitating the farmers and they are getting the maximum of their produce with no exploitation at all. Never in these years has the farmers suffered losses due to lesser rates in the market.
Given below is a quick overview of the government’s key success stories.
During his election campaign, Imran Khan had vowed to ensure voting rights for overseas Pakistanis and developing financial instruments that create attractive investment opportunities for them. The ruling party, meanwhile, has also been pushing for the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Despite work done, the promise, however, is yet to be fulfilled, largely due to the hesitance of the opposition parties to include overseas Pakistan in the electoral rolls.
In order to attract investment from overseas Pakistanis, the PTI government has introduced a number of projects that focus specifically on this promise. On 31 January 2019, the PM launched the Pakistan Banao Certificate — a dollar-denominated diaspora bond aimed at attracting investment from overseas Pakistanis to help strengthen the national economy.
In September last year, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) launched the Roshan Digital Account (RDA) for non-resident Pakistanis to enable them to remotely open bank accounts in the country through online digital branches without physically visiting banks. Facilitating overseas Pakistanis, PM Khan’s government also provided incentives such as tax exemptions and simplified biometric verification. Investments in property, tourism and the construction sector were also encouraged.
One of the ruling party’s promises before forming the government was creation of a South Punjab province on administrative lines. In 2018, the party set up the Executive Council on Creation of South Punjab province and formed a committee to develop political consensus over the creation of the new province.
Unfortunately Pakistan is among the ten countries worst hit by climate change and global warming would have a harmful impact on the generations to come if the current trends are not reversed. The government is utilising its best efforts to slow down and reverse the harmful impacts of climate change.
10 Billion Tree Tsunami
One of the hallmark projects of the PTI government over the past three years has been the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami. The scheme was expanded from the Billion Tree Tsunami project launched in KP in 2015. Under the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, seasonal plantation drives have been held in various parts of the country, with the target to plant 10 billion saplings by 2023.
Clean & Green Pakistan
Alongside the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, the government also initiated the Clean Green Pakistan drive to tackle the challenges of rising pollution and global warming. In November 2019, the Clean Green Pakistan Index was launched, under which 19 cities will compete on certain issues of public interest in the initial stage. With considerable work done to launch the programme in many parts of the country, the promise can be termed as partially complete.
The PTI government has initiated a poverty alleviation drive across the country. It has launched special drives to improve access to sanitation and potable water, besides increasing funding for the most impoverished districts through poverty alleviation plans, provide Sehat Insaf Cards to residents and augment the existing Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). In June 2020, the government decided to increase the monthly stipend given to poor families registered with the BISP from PKR 2,000 to PKR 3,000.
Building a welfare state
Alongside the BISP, the federal government has worked on various other projects under the Ehsaas programme, which the PM has said will turn Pakistan into a welfare state. In a report, the World Bank has listed the Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme among the top four social protection interventions
globally in terms of the number of people covered. The programme distributed cash among 15 million underprivileged families after they suffered financially due to Covid-19 related lockdowns.
Universal health coverage
In an expansion of a health insurance scheme first launched by the KP government, the federal government expanded the Sehat Sahulat Programme at the national level. In February 2019, Prime Minister Imran launched the nationwide Sehat Insaf Card, which aims to provide free medical treatment to approximately 80 million people. Perhaps the biggest highlight of the project came when the prime minister, on 28 October 2020, said universal health coverage would be offered to everyone in Punjab and KP within a year.
Prime Minister Imran Khan recently launched a uniform curriculum to end the class-based system in the education sector of Pakistan. Speaking as the chief guest at the inauguration ceremony in the federal capital, the PM said that the single curriculum program is to improve the education standard besides ending class divisions in the country.
In line with the government’s vision of providing equal development opportunities to every citizen, a uniform curriculum would be an important milestone in bridging class gaps. The uniform curriculum has been developed in consultation and collaboration with education departments of all federating units of the country.
Kamyab Jawan and Hunarmand Jawan programmes
The PTI government launched the Kamyab Jawan Programme (KJP) in October 2019. It is an aggressive small-and-medium-enter- prise lending scheme, aimed at stimulating job creation and economically empowering the youth.
Another project launched by the PTI government is the Hunarmand Jawan Programme aimed at the economic emancipation of the youth by providing them quality training. Launching the project on Jan 9, 2020, the PM said that the project would see the training of 500,000 youth.