The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government isn’t just a coalition government at the political level. It has many other partners who have invested in varied degrees in the party and its leadership. These investors range from crony capitalists to members of the judiciary and the deep state. Obviously, the PTI will not formulate any policy or reform which could hurt the core interests of these stakeholders. However, the masses are destined to pay a terrible price. For instance — even though people witnessed this with their jaws on the floor — but the PTI government, among firsts of its economic actions, lifted the ban that barred non-filers of the tax returns from buying property or new cars. Instead of widening the tax net, thereby bringing more and more people into the taxation regime, the government has decided to appease notorious tax evaders and punish those who are already paying taxes. The whole idea behind lifting the ban is to benefit the property barons within the party and those who invested in PTI with funds and aviation services. With the ban gone, black money will flow freely into the property sector, which in turn will push the prices higher, making things more costly for genuine buyers. Although mainstream media fell in line with the narrative and de facto bounds set by the deep state long ago, we still see politically motivated FIRs being launched against journalists. While all this may all be propelled by elements within the state, the elected government appears to be no more than a pawn against the free media and right of expression. In view of the glaring risk that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) might further downgrade Pakistan from the grey to black list, what we are seeing is deplorable. While radical organisations and their leadership, who the world recognises as entities and persons abetting terrorism, have been allowed to keep operating overtly and covertly, the journalists, rights activists, and members of nationalist organisations have been subjected to harassment, abduction, torture, and fatalities. Having itself been stoking religious sentiments to muster support from fringe religious groups, the PTI government will never be able to stem the sectarian hatred and intolerance in Pakistan. It didn’t take this government months, but weeks to launch investigations into the two metro bus projects launched by the previous government. It is ironic that it conveniently ignored a similar project in Peshawar It didn’t take this government months but weeks to launch investigations into the two metro bus projects launched by the previous government. It is ironic that it conveniently ignored a similar project in Peshawar the PTI led provincial government undertook in its previous tenure. The PTI’s project is still in tatters, mired in corruption stories and without any hopes of completion any time soon. The whole idea is to find something against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and then make a mountain out of a molehill. The world over, governments pay huge subsidies in public transport systems so that common people get affordable transportation and cities remain free of avoidable road congestion and air pollution. The PTI government, however, doesn’t seem keen on continuing with the subsidized projects of urban transportation. Ironically, it’s not so concerned about subsidizing the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), with the billions of rupees that it needs every year. The funniest development is the opening of a donation account for the dam fund. Initially, it was a Supreme Court Dam Fund, then the Prime Minister (PM) also jumped on the Diamer-Bhasha bandwagon; he also declared that the collection of funds is the government’s job and not of other institutions. However, the populist Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) was already riding the crest on this issue and was in no mood to concede. So, now we have a joint donation account in the name of the PM and CJP. What could be a better proof of the joint stakes between executive and judiciary? Not only does this expose the collusion between them, it also violates the principle of the separation of powers between two pillars of the state. A few months back, we all came across the ‘Bajwa doctrine’, the essence of which was that national security has become more expensive and that in the current arrangement of national finance commission the country’s security needs will be compromised. What’s in store here is that provinces will soon see their share in resources reduced so that defence needs could be met. It should not be forgotten that the passing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution is primarily responsible for development and welfare of people within their provinces. The PTI government is so reminiscent of the PML-Q under Musharraf, that one can hardly be optimistic about this regime. The writer is a sociologist with an interest in history and politics. He tweets @ZulfiRao Published in Daily Times, September 27th 2018.