The recent controversy about “U-turn” is patently childish. Accusing the government of “U-turns” is not only unfortunate but absurd. Without fully understanding the meaning of the term, the opposition is misusing it to castigate Imran Khan. Aided and abetted by a section of the media on their payroll, the opposition disapproves by vociferously criticising anything and everything that is being done by the PTI. This is unfortunately opposition for opposition’s sake.
National interest (and the future of a healthy democracy) requires objectivity. We must differentiate between the negative aspect of a U-Turn and decision changed to cope with the existing situation and circumstances. Without flexibility in the decision-making process, if circumstances change, one can and will get into multiple problems. Compromises must be made according to the changing situation so that potential disaster can be averted. We cannot stick to a decision that springs from ego. That is what Imran Khan meant when he spoke about both Napoleon and Hitler trying to take on the Russian winter inspite of unanimous contrary advice from their generals.
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Pakistan’s present woes are not of the PTI’s making. They are unfortunate legacy gifted to the nation over several years of corruption and mis-governance by our previous rulers. When the PTI assumed charge of the government, Pakistan was perched on a precipice of economic disaster with almost all monetary indices on a free fall. Why not ask the caretaker government to give a full report of the economic situation the country was faced with? It is interesting to hear what Shamshad Akhtar, the caretaker finance minister and former SBP governor, has to say.
While this mess will not be easy to clean up, Imran Khan has succeeded in kindling some hope among the population, particularly the common man who yearns for a better life and be able to transform his life. Going against his previous stance of never seeking monetary assistance from external sources, Imran Khan did make a U-turn in the country’s interest. He put his principles and reservations aside while approaching staunch friends, China and Saudi Arabia, for bridging aid to tide the economic crisis.
Instead of relying on conditional aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the options available in the national interest made the best economic sense for Pakistan. Not a “U-turn’ made haphazardly by any stretch of the imagination, yet those rabidly anti-PTI had a field day spreading negative propaganda. If anything, Imran Khan must be congratulated for taking a tidy and wise decision. What are friends for if one cannot go to them in times of crisis? What really does the opposition want, especially when the masses to continue suffer, while they go off to live in their luxury apartments in Dubai and London and take strolls in Hyde Park?
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Leaders must have the ability to be flexible and to change their plans to match the reality of the emerging situation, both on the domestic and foreign fronts. They must be capable of embracing change and treating uncertainty and ambiguity as the new norm otherwise the nation will face problems. Imran Khan has shown he has the ability to look past the events of today and into the possibilities of tomorrow and visualise new ideas on what needs to be done for the benefit of the people.
Politics being the art of compromise, everyone changes his stance in politics. Compromises in the national interest is what the PM has been doing, proving himself to be flexible and capable of adapting to circumstances. How many politicians the world over have remained steadfast on each and every promise made? Imran Khan is being hounded simply because he had the courage to call the changes in decision-making a U-turn in the supreme interest of the people. He is right when he says that “Real leaders should be ready to take U-turns” to be effective. He has thus been flexible despite the opposition’s anti-government propaganda and tirade thereof.
The people see in Imran, perhaps for the first time after the passing away of our founding fathers, a leader worthy of their trust, one who appears to be truly honest, whose integrity is above board and one who is free from greed. Those criticising Imran Khan are being highly unfair. They have a vested interest in doing so because they fear accountability for their financial misdeeds. The PM is continually assessing progress and learning from experience to make necessary revisions in strategies and plans. He is making use of alternate strategies and adapting to circumstances, particularly in the situation Pakistan finds itself today because of the excesses and inadequacies of our past governments.
The writer is a defence and security analyst