LAHORE: Accepting that the “governance is crippled right now” and the government was only making do with whatever it inherited, Naeemul Haq, adviser to the prime minister, said on Tuesday: “What the PTI has realised in its first five months of rule is that this system (of governance) does not have solutions to the peoples’ problems and needs to be replaced in its entirety.”

Answering a question during a press conference here, Haq conceded that the government of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf was only “limping along” in face of myriad problems it inherited from the past governments. The country is confronted with all sorts of crises – political, economic and social.

“Of late, the Sahiwal incident has added another layer to these crises when police, being run under a rotten system, martyred four people, causing massive public outcry and underlining the need for change of the system, rather than faces. Direct firing by police on a car carrying four innocent children has wiped out distinction between right and wrong, between guilty and innocent. As suggested by prime minister’s tweet, the PTI would now change the system rather than faces,” he explained.

About the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) seeking a few more weeks to complete its task, citing paucity of time, the advisor to PM said: “No way! Why the JIT needs more time and why should it be given? Everything is on record. It will furnish its initial report in the afternoon and the prime minister, who is returning from Qatar, would decide. But it would certainly not get additional time,” he said.

Talking about the legislative part of changing the system of governance, he said the PTI, despite huge reservations, had to accept Shahbaz Sharif as head of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly. The opposition has been given 18, out of 38 standing committees of the National Assembly. The PTI has done it all with the hope that the opposition would now cooperate with the government in its legislative effort. “The prime minister would attend the National Assembly session tomorrow (Wednesday) and the opposition must show cooperative spirit now,” he said.

Flanked by central secretary-general Arshad Dad and Ijaz Chaudhry, additional secretary-general, Naeemul Haq also told the media that the party would soon launch its new constitution and rejuvenate political activities in the province.

“Both the leaders have been assigned the task of reviving women, labour and student wings of the party so that it could claim its share in the forthcoming local bodies elections.

When asked to clarify the contradiction (of calling Sahiwal victims martyrs) between him and the Punjab ministers (defending the CTD’s stance of calling them terrorists), Mr Haq was of the opinion that the Punjab ministers should have handled the issue in a better way.

He, however, defended Chief Minister Usman Buzdar forcefully, saying it was too early for the media to judge the gentleman, adding that he (Buzdar) would soon prove his mettle and the party and the chairman has full trust in him.

“Even otherwise, individuals hardly matter if the governance system improves and works efficiently. The PTI is now going to concentrate on the system rather than individuals.”

Ijaz Chaudhry, speaking on the occasion, called investigation into Sahiwal incident a “test for the party, which it has to, and will, pass.” The party has the ownership of investigation and ensuring justice for the victims, he claimed.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2019