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PTI’s First 100 Days: A- (Some Governance Better Than Misgovernance)

On Qualitative analysis, PTI’s 100 days performance gets a “A-” on overall basis; It could on Quantitative scale be lower; In that case the overall score could be a “B” or “B-“

IRSHAD SALIM — Imran Khan’s 100-day in office as the “Prime Minister” (after having graduated as a one-man demolition squad of the status quo) can’t be looked from a ‘glass half full or half empty’ approach–the linearity and vulnerability inherent in such approach lets analysts and opinionmakers swing towards inferences thereby making the real goodies of his days in office undeliverables on a roadmap the Gurus are so accustomed to, and may have themselves developed to judge IK so. They may not be seeing things happening but ‘You don’t have to see London to know it exists’.

For example, there are attributes of good governance IK and his team have initiated and striving to populate, make it relevant on the national scale but remains to “be seen”–binary approach otherwise would typically encounter such an occupational hazard.

On a long-haul based trajectory, things seem to be moving in magnitude and direction but may not be at a speed to create enough space required for a soft U-turn Khan Sahib (as many call him) wants to make from the social and moral abyss. Therefore, embarking towards a welfare state–a socio-economic approach IK wants to transform into by doffing the Pakistan Incorporated mantra that has been so evident over the decades–that is measuring revenues akin to daily stock index ups and downs whether earned legally and morally or not–is a challenge by itself, and being challenged to do so is a full time job also. We have internal and external forces resisting this approach.

How do we equalize this iota in a traditional deductive analysis?

Only an index therefore which can measure the transformational developments during Khan’s 100 days can opiniate his team’s performance. Identify what standards to follow to aye or nay Khan’s moves is by itself a new task for analysts.

It calls for a hybrid of an “out of the box” analytical exercise with less weightage placed toward boxing such transformative variables  into  a cookie factory style performance measures and standards.

If we consider such as being the ‘Imran doctrine’, and therefore weigh it periodically against the dependent and independent variables built into his equation, it would be prudent to then regress the results and hold his hand to the fire. That’s not happening though, and as a result, a fishbowl perspective of Khan Sahib’s performance to date vis-a-vis factors not of his making is being floated. One must compare an apple with an apple, but what if we compare an apple with an orange. It’s a paradox analysts find difficult to handle theoretically. That’s the iota.

One thing which gets a high mark while measuring how he handled the “old debt load on donkey’s back” is the approach he and his team has taken. Having stabilized the financial crisis first, by borrowing cash and establishing creditlines with friendly countries as condition precedent upon approaching the IMF, his team has created space and earned time-value thereby making the IMF loan program a floatable variable for sometime. That was unexpected for independent observers and strategists, I understand. Did we give weightage to this matter? He gets an ‘A’ on this.

Also, overspending has been sort of a plus point (often ignored) over the decades to maximize political mileage and govern until next elections are due. This approach has been upended. Shall we consider this now a negative point or should we rewrite the equation and analyze, judge accordingly—that brings us back to taking a hard look at ‘Imran Doctrine’ and another plus point.

Khan Sahib’s launch of affordable housing scheme for the low and middle class also gets an A+ and the start has raised the confidence level of the marginalized, motivated people and contributed toward galvanizing the nation as a living entity—-unmeasurable by any of the formula Gurus are “judging” his performance with for the last 3 months.

Politically, Khan Sahib has remained steadfast with his calls to end corruption—there has been no discernible reports based on organized mafioso style syndication to use white collar crime techniques to milk the cow. Individually, if any member or members of his overall team had done so, it would be a reflection of growing pains while transitioning from one performance curve to another in which human values (Human Index ‘HI’) carry more weightage than performance (Performance Index ‘PI). IK gets an ‘A’ on this aspect also.

Unfortunately, many have been measuring and continue to measure on PI only. The apolitical class of the nation seeks a mix-bag of both from Khan or any government in future. This is a new standard set by Khan himself and the nation went for it.

His 4 visits overseas were not just to “beg” for money to pay the “old debts”–not of his making though, but essentially to sponge ideas and practices and cherry-pick solutions best fit at home—quick-fixes or to win the next elections was not in his mind, but the passion to win over hearts, mind and soul of the organic society–particularly the rural and urban youth–these are amiss in ‘Indicators” which use binary numbers and practiced in corporate group-think.

While the Gurus, the Pundits and the beancounters focus on scaling his 100-days on measurable ‘economic’ only standards, he has chosen HI and PI mix. So even if he gets a B in PI he gets an A in HI. Resultantly, based on more weightage for HI (60%), and for PI 40%, he gets an A- on overall score.

Even Donald Trump –the president of the United States, with supernova resources at his disposal home and abroad is not being judged for how his performance or lack of performance has been during the first 100 days in office even though he spent a lot of time in Florida vacationing while golfing and vice versa.

There appears to be a penchant to pull all the rabbits from the hat to judge Khan and his 100-day. Here, the dice seems to have been loaded on “Heads I Win Tail You Lose” mantra, and seemingly the croupiers have been fixed and the roulette table has been pulled up to the lobby to welcome the “rookie” Prime Minister–as if he is walking up to the casino named “100-Days” and is destined to lose. But he seems to have outmaneuvered his critics and in doing so he lost some political capital though. How long it will take him to build upon it, I don’t know. Khan Sahib therefore gets a ‘B’ on this one.

The mindset which had morphed into an edifice is crumbling–tools used to build it and measure its success and failures are becoming irrelevant going forward. Old solutions can’t be fully applied on new problems appears to be a groupthink. But his team is not in sync with the leader. Khan Sahib therefore gets a B-minus on this.

However, to be fair to those who would still like to measure him in set of numbers, my next article would attempt to do so and let the chips fall as they may. Still ‘Imran Doctrine’ would ultimately override the quantitative scores. In that case, overall score could be a “B” or “B-“.

I fear though that our Scarlett O’hara’s (Gone With the Wind movie’s fictional character) would still remain capriciously in love with ghosts of the crumbling status quo. Many on the other side of the aisle say, “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn”.

“We need 100 flowers to bloom and  100 schools of thought to contend” going forward. This isn’t and can’t be a 100-day task measurable in bytes, dollars and cents.

(The writer is a business & construction consultant, analyst, and Editor-in-Chief of PKonweb, DesPardes and BE2C2 Report and presently based in Islamabad)






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