The Concept Behind Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's New Party

People don’t want to choose between an Imran Khan and a wannabe Imran Khan in the form of Maryam Nawaz Sharif

The Concept Behind Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's New Party

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has a longstanding record of demonstrating steadfastness against authoritarian regimes ie in 2000 opposing Musharraf and in 2018 during Imran Khan’s tenure, which gives the impression that he is an honourable and politically capable politician. What truly sets him apart from the top tier of leadership in Pakistan is his competence in execution. According to a former PIA bureaucrat, Abbasi foresaw the collapse of PIA in the late 1990s and advocated for Pakistan to privatize the airline before it became a burden on the country's finances. He believed that privatization would enable Pakistan to sell PIA for top dollar.

As the country’s petroleum minister in 2013-18, Abbasi's $16 billion LNG deal was praised by Bloomberg because it saved Pakistan billions of dollars and solved the ten-year-long gas crisis. His achievement led to him being praised at energy-related conferences around the world. However, in response to this success, he was sent to jail. After 600 hearings, he was exonerated, along with 13 other co-accused. This demonstrates his ability to deliver results for Pakistan without causing losses to the government.

Abbasi's engineering degree, flying skills, two impressive ministries, two mature opposition roles, and competent leadership during his tenure as Prime Minister of Pakistan set him apart. He is known for working silently, not taking any government perks, and living in his own house as Prime Minister, a practice he started before Imran Khan. He did not even promote his simplicity. Combined with the expertise of Dr Miftah on the economy and Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar on human rights and law, Abbasi has a unique advantage in reshaping Pakistan’s political landscape.

The current situation in Pakistan is such that the government cannot deliver, and its alternative choice, Imran Khan, lacks the competence to serve the people. Khan's politics have shifted from being an advocate against corruption to a world where an imaginary conspiracy removed him from power, rather than acknowledging his weak government and the lack of support from his allies. The country's tax collection is insufficient to cover the yearly interest owed on its debt, let alone create fiscal space.

Pakistan cannot afford to choose between Maryam Nawaz, who distributes money for photo opportunities, and Imran Khan, who has ruled KP for 11 years, during which 47% of the province's people are illiterate. It seems that Maryam Nawaz has taken over Imran Khan’s marketing tactics, while KP is grappling with an overwhelming illiteracy crisis. PTI’s financial management of KP was so bad that it refused to give a bi-election or senate ticket to their former finance minister Taimur Jhagra. Even during Imran Khan’s three-and-a-half years in government at the federal level, the gap between the rich and poor only widened. Changing finance ministers was the hobby of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Buzdar and Mahmood Khan continued to enrich relatives of Imran Khan’s friends, while the provinces increased their deficits.

From Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s "Reimagining Pakistan" conferences, it is evident that he is the only leader in the country who understands the importance of establishing the trichotomy of power, ensuring that institutions stay within their limits, improving governance, providing economic opportunities, and giving the people a fair chance at a future where they are better off than their parents and grandparents. The country is long overdue for serious measures that can steer the economy in the right direction, improve our healthcare, education and law and order situation and most importantly come out of this rut of picking sides between the establishment and orchestrated democracy. We have seen Nawaz Sharif do a deal with the Powers That Be and fail miserably once more after Imran Khan’s 2022 tenure.

The country can only move forward now, and this can be done by creating economic opportunities for the general public. People don’t want to choose between an Imran Khan and a wannabe Imran Khan in the form of Maryam Nawaz Sharif. The country, it may be argued, needs serious, battle-tested politicians with a background of seriousness. 

Young students, new parents and budding entrepreneurs in the country have been rightly pushing them to make a political party that only cares about two things: Pakistan and its people.

The writer tweets at: @FarrukhJAbbasi