Imran Khan and New Model State of Pakistan

Imran Khan

By Arian Mufid:

The world is witnessing a new model of economy and state of democracy in Pakistan since pragmatic leader Imran Khan came to power in August 2018. Imran Khan is the leader of Pakistan’s Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI). British-educated, he has proved that he wants to serve his people rather than power and control. During the first week of his rule, he addressed the people in Pakistan announcing many austerity measures which included a reduction of PM house employees and the number of bullet-proof vehicles, which he would auction, the conversion of the PM house into a university, conversion of governor houses into public benefit buildings, and criticism of the foreign visits of previous prime ministers (which was taken as an indication that he will reduce them). Other legislation was brought into action such as anti-money Laundering, The Nation Accountability Bureau and police reform.

Imran Khan is the first head of state to show concern for how the nation’s children were having stunted growth due to malnutrition while the government is spending extensive amount of money on its own luxuries. His focus is on raising living standards across Pakistan. Khan announced that he will not live in the prime minister’s house and will cut down the staff of the prime minister’s house from 524 people to 2 people. He also announced that he will only keep two vehicles out of the current 80 vehicles available for use of the prime minister and the rest will be auctioned. He said he will not own any business while in office so that there is no conflict of interest. Khan’s electoral discourse against the IMF program became one of his primary hurdles. It was a sign of Imran Khan’s supreme confidence in his ability to stay in the saddle that recently he openly suggested he favoured an authoritarian system and blamed democratic dispensations for the country’s lack of economic progress.

The mode of economy he advocates is self-reliance and an export-oriented strategy, even though the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed efforts to overcome Pakistan’s inability to transform itself into a productive economy. When he became prime minister, Pakistan was mired in debt of US$ 176billion. The country’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia stands at a meagre $3.6 billion. Saudi trade with India, on the other hand, has risen to $27 billion and is expanding further. Khan stated recently that:

“This is the first government in Pakistan since the 1960s which has made it a point that we want to make profit-making easy for people … and investors”. Striking the right balance will be a prerequisite if he is to make progress on some of the global economy’s biggest challenges, not least how to reconcile market capitalism and China’s model of state capitalism, as he is impressed by the rise of the latter.

The current prime minister is in front of the biggest challenge for reducing poverty which Pakistan has suffered for long time: in 2015, 24.3% were below the poverty line. Due to COVID 19, the growth rate has reduced to 1.9% compared to 5.9% prior to Imran Khan’s party taking power. The party should abandon a populist route and adopt the principle of a working-class struggle party. The modest Imran Khan has shown great respect for religion but should not interfere with modern Pakistani rule. Taking on apparently insurmountable challenges is something of a habit for Imran Khan. His immediate challenge is how to reduce unemployment, which was 4.5% in 2020 and inflation of 8% in 2020 which in Pakistan is a vintage economic problem.

Finally, the KRG leaders would do well to learn from Imran Khan’s example. His model is a good one for the south of Kurdistan.

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