Imran Khan is well known for doing a lot of impossible things. He started off as a pretty mediocre bowler and those who saw him play his first test at Edgbaston, which I did, came away thinking that he would never make much of a bowler.
He retired as a great fast bowler and cricketer. If somebody had said at that time what he would achieve, people would have laughed. At his peak he was taking five wickets per test match and he had a batting average of 52 as the captain of Pakistan.
When he set out to make a cancer hospital in his mother’s name, even his family was sceptical. History will record that he succeeded – and how. He is now building another cancer hospital in Karachi.
When he got into politics, people thought he did it to stay in the news because he could not cope with retirement or anonymity.
But he brought his tunnel vision and incredible will to succeed and eventually after losing many an election, he is today the prime minister of Pakistan.
When he became prime minister, he brought with him a lot of good will of a people fed up to the gills with corruption and mis-governance. At that time it seemed that he could not fail. But today, he is managing to achieve that also. He has painted himself into such a corner with the economy that he is indeed facing what one could call a perfect storm – two hurricanes about to collide and create one hell of a storm.
Imran tried his best to make the corrupt rulers of the past accountable and pay for their crimes. But because they are such a powerful mafia, which Imran himself keeps saying that they are, they have evaded reckoning so far. In fact, their useless progeny is gearing up to become their heirs-apparent. He has also managed to pick a major disagreement over a recent official appointment – a major no-no. Given Imran’s history, he will probably come out of this storm, but he should reflect on his many missteps and his governance.
Imran’s biggest failure has been to set up a good team. He had and still has one or two good people with him like Sania Nishtar, but the best guy he had was his former finance minister, Hafeez Sheikh, whom he unbelievably managed to get rid of. In his place, he appointed a former finance minister and a commercial banker and the results are before us.
The current account deficit, which Hafeez had managed to get rid of, has raised its ugly head again and I’m told the deficit is now $10 billion. That is ridiculous. Despite the steep devaluation of the rupee and the massive rise in the value of the dollar, imports have been going up and exports falling threatening to create a huge trade deficit.
Today, talks with the IMF are stalled, which is not a good sign. They may be resolved by the time you read this but at a pretty steep cost. And the IMF will make the government do things like raising electricity tariffs, gas tariffs that will boost inflation making the cost of living beyond people’s purchasing ability. That could lead to social unrest and then many of Imran’s numerous enemies will exploit it to the hilt without having answers.
I hope Imran will be able to manage to get out of this one. So expensive has life become that the already poor man has started living like a pauper. Forget the poor man, even the well-heeled are facing a tough time. We are cooking less than we used to and I am eating less than I used to. So, having tried all kinds of fancy diets, when people remark that I have lost weight, it’s because I’m eating less. You can call it the ‘Imran Khan Diet.’ Let’s see. But making Humayun Gauhar lose weight is an impossible thing that Imran is managing.
It’s now difficult to maintain a car, go by air to Karachi and so many other things that we took for granted. I am lucky that my father left me a house otherwise I would have been homeless. Thinking of buying a property now is out of the question. Forget property, even thinking of buying a new car makes one’s head spin. In all this, one is beset with personal bad news like the many deaths that are taking place, mostly because of Covid. A brother-in-law of mine died, my beloved cousin, Babar Tajammul died most unexpectedly. It is utterly horrible.
What Imran Khan needs to do is to find some immediate way of providing some relief to the citizens. That might take the wind out of the sails of his opponents who are, not to put too fine a point on it, all a nightmare in their own right. You must have heard the way the daughter of Nawaz Sharif or the son of Benazir speak. They also have terrible teams around them but then good people who are ready to enter the satanic fray of Pakistani politics are few and far between – very few.
The writer is a veteran journalist, political analyst and author.
Email: [email protected]