View From The Neighbourhood: Time to govern

View From The Neighbourhood: Time to govern

Introducing a weekly look at the public conversations shaping ideas beyond borders — in the Subcontinent.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. (AP/File)

With the dust settling on the Pakistan election, and the new Cabinet in place, the question now is whether Prime Minister Imran Khan can deliver on the promises that have made him so popular. Journalist and author Zahid Khan argues in an article in Dawn on August 22 that unlike the previous government which focussed on “big-ticket” infrastructure projects, Imran Khan’s stated priorities are “ Health, education, environment and institutional reform” and turn Pakistan into a “social welfare state”. “It is rare for our political leaders to take such an emphatic position on critical issues directly linked to the well-being of the masses,” argues the author. However, “the PTI government has taken populist rhetoric too far on the issue of accountability”. The prime minister’s confrontational stance towards the Opposition, evidenced in losing his cool in the legislature in his maiden speech.

The challenges to building “Naya Pakistan”, argues the article, require a focus on governance and a more mature politics. Bringing back money stashed abroad seems a tall promise that can return to haunt the government, and “the decision to put the former prime minister and his daughter on the Exit Control List does not make any sense as they are already in prison”. Finally, the appointment of Sardar Usman Buzdar, a man with no experience in government, as chief minister of Punjab is “most shocking”. Imran Khan the politician, stresses the article, must turn into Imran Khan, man of government.

Waiting for polls

The editorial in The Island on August 25 appears perturbed by the incongruence between the stated position of Sri Lanka’s political parties and their actions in the legislature on the conduct of Provincial Council (PC) polls: “The terms of the Eastern, North Central and Sabaragamuwa PCs ended as long ago as Sept. 2017 and are now overdue by almost a year. The Joint Opposition has been loud and clear in alleging that the governing UNP and the Sirisena faction of the SLFP, soundly drubbed at the February local elections, are quaking in their shoes fearful of a similar fate in the forthcoming PC elections. Amidst this cacophony Parliament on Friday rejects, without a single dissenting vote, the report of the Delimitation Committee!”

In addition, “the tenure of Central, Northern and Northwestern PCs will also conclude next month”. Now, the Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament has announced a five-member committee to look into delimitation and the conduct of the polls. It will also look into whether the elections ought to be conducted through a first-past-the-post system or a mixed system which includes proportional representation. Another issue for the federal and democratic system in Sri Lanka will be of women’s reservation. According to the editorial, “Women’s representation can be a tricky sticking point as demonstrated at the local elections” because “if the required number of women is not elected, then the parties will have to make good the deficit by nomination and injustice to male candidates who had polled well may be difficult to avoid”.

Majority insecurity


The ruling Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) government has a substantial majority and yet, according to the editorial in The Himalayan Times on August 20, it is acting in a manner that is insecure. Prime Minister K P Oli has earlier this month released a report listing the “achievements” of his government, even as the CPN has claimed constantly that the Opposition Nepali Congress has not allowed the government to function. “It has now been more than six months for the new government,” says the editorial, and “for a government which is set to govern for a full five-year term, this is but a small period”.

The editorial acknowledges that the government has done some good work, but finds the release of the 74-page report “puzzling”: “It appears the PM released the report only ‘to defend’ his government’s work. Today’s government is strong enough to overcome all the challenges, and hardly is there any need for it to feel threatened when it continues to do good work in the larger interest of the people and the nation.” It also points out that the Opposition is among the weakest that Nepal has seen in recent times and the shortcomings of the Old government cannot be place at its door. Finally, the editorial says that it is by its deeds and work that the people will judge the government, and “Oli must focus on those areas as his government strives to achieve development and prosperity.”