PTI’s three years in power-shattered dreams of Naya Pakistan

PTI government has strengthened the status quo instead of breaking it in last three years 

PTI government has completed its three years in power. Three years are enough to judge the performance and direction of any government. The direction of PTI government is not fundamentally different from previous government.
 Even though, PTI government promised to introduce reforms in the system to change it and to make ‘Naya Pakistan’. It promised to end elite capture and mafia rule in Naya Pakistan. But after three years, the elite capture and mafia rule is still intact. 
 PTI government seems almost powerless when it comes to dealing with different business cartels. The sugar, wheat and petrol crises are clear examples of this trend.
One crisis after the other is exposing the fact that whole system is rigged in the favour of super-rich and elite. There is hardly any difference in economic policies of PTI government with previous governments. of PML-N and PPP. The reality is that PTI government has implemented the neoliberal economic policies and market reforms more viciously than the previous governments. 

PTI has proved in last three years that it is another traditional party of the ruling elite. It pretended as an anti-elite party which believes in change. Instead of bringing change it has strengthened the status quo. Its policies have further strengthened the grip of ruling elite on power. 
This government is serving and protecting the interests of ruling classes and elite like the previous government. Its performance might be fine for the big business and ruling elite but it failed to deliver its promises and pledges to the masses.
Like every government in the history of Pakistan, PTI government wants us to believe that it has achieved what previous governments failed to achieve. It wants us to believe that from economy to governance and from foreign policy to institutional reforms, the government has done something exceptional. But ground realities are telling us different story. 
If we look at the overall performance of PTI government in last three years, its performance is not more than average. It failed to deliver on its major promises like providing jobs and houses and to end the corruption and nepotism. It failed to introduce the much talked about merit in the country. 
PTI government came into power on high hopes of change and reforms.

PTI leadership promised to make ‘Naya Pakistan’. Despite the tall claims of growth and right direction of the economy, PTI government failed to turnaround the economy for the working people of Pakistan. 
The ordinary Pakistanis continue to experience poverty, high inflation, unemployment and falling incomes. 
On the other hand, ruling elite and big business continue to increase their profits and wealth. 
The biggest indicator of any government is the fact that whether the poor masses and working people are better off or worse. The matter of fact is that ordinary people has become worse off in last three years. 
PTI government in last three years added Rs 15,000 billion to the debt. PTI government is taking more than double the amount of debt compare to the PML-N government. Both PPP and PML-N added Rs 18,000 billion debt in their 10 years of government. PTI has already added Rs 15,000 billion in just three years. 
The incomes of working people are declining. More people are living below the poverty line than before. Nearly40% Pakistani population is living in poverty. More people are unemployed now than three years ago. The unemployment is at historic high as 8.5 million People are unemployed in Pakistan at the moment. 
The overall economic and social conditions of vast majority of the population haven’t really improved. The matter of fact is that many people are worse off than they were three years ago. PTI government has failed to control the rising inflation in last three years. The prices of food, electricity, petrol, gas, medicines and services are continued to rise. 
It is interesting that after failing to control inflation and bringing down the prices of food and other daily essentials, PTI government has come up with a new narrative on inflation. The government is arguing that high inflation is not a problem as incomes are also rising.
It is a blatant attempt to deny the reality faced by millions of working people and low income households. The reality is that the incomes of working people are not rising to see off the impact of high inflation.
Low income households spend a higher percentage of their income on food compared to middle and high income groups which makes them especially sensitive to food inflation.
According to Kashf Foundation research released recently, the low income households earning between Rs 15, 000 to Rs 30, 000 per month have lost 17% of their income. This research also pointed out that low income families are now spending nearly 46% of their monthly incomes just on food. 
According to another research conducted by former finance minister and leading economist Dr Hafeez Pasha, the fall in income is in the range of 7% to 9%.
 The wages in private sector are not rising compare to inflation. Low income families and wage labourers are finding it really hard to cope with rising prices of food, edible oil, electricity, rents, transport fares and medicines on regular basis.
PTI government is facing the challenges of rising inflation, current account deficit and import bill which must be major worry for government. How the people will judge the performance of PTI government in the next elections in 2023 will depend on the performance of next two years. 
The PTI leaders made tall claims of ‘Naya Pakistan’ and ‘Tabdeeli’. None of the major election promises and manifesto pledges so far been fulfilled by PTI government.
PTI leadership is not ready to accept the fact that it raised the hopes of the people unrealistically without realising the ground realities. It made unrealistic promises and pledges. Radical rhetoric was used without any concrete strategy and homework. 
PTI leadership including PM Imran Khan considers good intension and personal honesty enough to bring change in the system. The leadership believed that good intension would solve many problems without realising the basic fact that good intension must be backed with concrete policies, strategy and measures. 
It is true that perception becomes more powerful than the reality. But it becomes a big problem when perception becomes reality. First it was a perception that PTI government is incompetent and not capable to deliver the promises it made; but now people have started to accept it as a reality.  PTI needs to change this fast developing perception with actions and policy decisions. 
                                          Khalid Bhatti 

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