Elahi Bakhsh

Imran Khan and “allegory of cave”

Elahi Bakhsh

The phrase within quotation marks is borrowed from the philosophy of 300th BC Greek philosopher, Plato. In his famous book, “The Republic” he sets out on explaining the affects of knowledge and education, and the lack thereof, on the human nature.

To explain the lack of education, he uses the example of people in a dark cave who have been chained to the wall of that cave all their life and their faces constrained by chains from moving in any direction save the wall. On the wall, they see the images of things and people projected by the light of a fire burning behind them. By hearing the voices of the people passing by that fire they perceive those images to be real people.

This is how reality manifests itself to them. The darkness leaves a tremendous fear of light in their minds. If someone drags any of them out of the cave forcibly, then upon reaching the light their eyes feel immense pain and they get terrified, and rush back into the dark cave. Feeling that everyone who goes out comes back terrified, they are all content with their present condition.

Pakistan is one of the colonial remnants with most people having limited vision of what and who is best for them. We can’t digest the system reset because we are chained to the dark wall allegorised by Plato. It is also based on the observation that the past three and half years were where the most reformative activities were carried out but most of us didn’t get a hint of it or didn’t want to know about it at all. Things were set on reboot despite the prevalence of rotten bureaucratic and judicial systems.

Hard choices were made which became harbinger of existential problems for the government. For example Jahangir Tarin, the hefty donor of PTI, was listed in cases along with his family and IK didn’t move an inch. Lots of work was done, therefore, lots of mistakes were made as well. There were no short term abrupt fixes to any of the problems Pakistan has been facing over the past seventy years; therefore, long-term planning got precedence over short term fixes. Some say that IK didn’t deliver according to what he had promised. But political rhetoric was necessary to break the traditional cycle of two families coming into power and as we know “ends matter more than means” in a system wrought with injustice.

Now let’s come to what IK achieved in the short period that he has served for. Along with doing ordinary stuff the government undertook exhaustive initiatives in the following fields/sectors.

  1. Digitization: This does two things: one is that it makes things easier and gets them done quickly; secondly, it prevents corruption by minimizing human interference. In this connection Biometric attendance systems were introduced in institutions and i am an affectee of such an initiative. I hear from old colleagues that classes were held for merely 3 months in an academic session and rest would be self assumed holidays. Online admissions in KP colleges have been initiated ensuring the sanctity of merit. E-Transfer Policy for civil servants has been introduced, although a lot has still got to be done. Track and Trace system of FBR for sugar sector is already showing an unprecedented increase in tax collection.
  2. Roshan Digital Account is an electronic platform for overseas Pakistanis to send earnings easily to their families and this has resulted in an enormous increase in remittances thus easing the current account deficit.
  3. Pakistan Citizen Portal is a revolutionizing mobile application providing citizens access to public offices online for registering their complaints against the public office holders in every government department. This has a resolution mechanism and i have got almost a dozen complaints resolved out of some 20 complaints so far. The PM delivery unit is looking at improving this platform to better resolve citizens’ problems. E-Summary has been introduced in KP cabinet Secretariat as a pilot project and if it gets fully implemented then the bureaucratic red tapism will be buried once and for all.
  4. Education: Ehsas Undergraduate scholarships are offered to students having monthly family income of less than forty-five thousand. Since 2018, HEC has disbursed almost half a million scholarships compared to just twenty seven thousand till 2017 since its establishment in 2002.
  5. Ehsas Wazifa Program is another such initiative to encourage poor children to get enrollment in schools and to discourage drop out tendencies.
  6. Single National Curriculum and focus on moral development of population based on the life of Rahmatul Alameen (SAW) has been introduced to create homogeneity and moral development in the society.
  7. Health: With Sehat Insaf Card Plus initiative each and every citizen of Pakistan, except of sindh, are eligible for free treatment of upto one million in every public or private hospital. This is one of it’s kinds in developed countries let alone poor ones. Apart from that, revamping of teaching hospitals and provision of facilities at tehsil headquarter hospitals with public private partnership system is being done to improve health services delivery.
  8. Ehsas Programs: These are social security and welfare programs to minimize social inequalities and facilitate the downtrodden section of the population. It consists of: Ehsas Nashunuma program with the goal to facilitate targeted families to fight malnutrition and stunted growth.
  9. Ehsas Kafalat program, a refined form of BISP, provides quarterly cash disbursements to females of poor households; Ehsas Emergency cash are disbursed during emergency situations; Ehsas Rashan Card, which provides subsidy to deserving families on designated utility items. Another initiative is Ehsas Shelter homes, and meals therein, for way farers and homeless. This is not the case even in developed countries like US.
  10. Infrastructure: BRT Peshawar achieved the gold standard award for transit services among developing countries. According to NHA data, motorways and highways were constructed on lower cost per KM from 41 cror in 2013 to 17 cror in 2020, despite a surge in dollar rate and global inflation. Construction on 10 number of dams has been started after a pause of almost 50 years to cater for the scarcity of water and to get low cost electricity. And finally, special economic and IT zones are being established at different districts to boost economic activity and IT export. This year has seen a surge in IT related exports due to such initiatives.
  11. Miscellaneously, Right to Public Service Commission was introduced for the first time in KPK in 2013 aimed at ensuring transparency in public services. Kamyab Jawan Program has disbursed 40 billion soft loans for entrepreneurs so far which has add to the increase in the employment opportunities. According to a recent World Bank report the unemployment rate is lowest in Pakistan among South Asian countries.
  12. Pakistan Housing Loan disbursements have broken all previous records recently, which aims at providing low cost interest free housing finances for salaried classes.

Billion Tree Tsunami is a trademark Pakistani project which has achieved global recognition. What the UNEP says about it is given in this link:

Similarly, Zamung Kor for Orphans, National Security Policy to put individual at the centre of attention, Encouragement of textile sector with exports breaking all previous records, Local manufacturing of Mobile phones, Sanitation and cleanliness activities at municipal levels, Establishment of libraries at every district, Rescue 1122 and amalgamation of ambulance services with it, Ministerial evaluation, and resolution of Rekodiq saga are some of the milestones this government was able to achieve in these couple of years that it has been in power.

 Most of the aforementioned initiatives will have a long term effect and they will not suffice to garner support for the IK at this moment. Because our system works on lollipops and personal favors. Unfortunately, we have been showing an absolute ignorant attitude towards the initiatives launched by this government. Specially, the attitude of pti workers is hopelessly despicable, who always seem beating around the bushes instead of trying to make the fruits of these initiatives reach the poor. For example when I visited a local Ehsaas cash outlet they told me that a widow in our area had not withdrawn over three lac rupees from her Ehsas Kafalat account because her biometric verification had not been done and no local youth or pti worker had bothered to take her to the cash point and get her money. Similarly, how many of us have actually tried to reach poor families to inquire whether or not they have registered for Ehsas Nashunuma or Ehsaas rashan scheme or wazifa etc. These are social responsibilities which we think that IK should do for us. If opposition had a hand in removing Khan from office then I think his own party workers had the same in it.

Having said that, I think that IK should come into the system once in a while to set things straight and do all that is not done when the normal guys run the circus.

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