Competence Reloaded

The PTI Government, after resuming office requested to be given 100 days before it is criticised, molested, stoned or blasted. Many anchors agreed after profusely criticising this very request. Others didn’t and carried on attempted yet enterprising molestation on the go – on how the government sounded, seemed and acted.

The government also cooperated with them in giving them fresh fodder almost on daily basis.

Opposition parties in the parliament who were perfecting specific tactical opposition within the folds of larger and loose opposition, neither agreed nor disagreed.

They probably and wisely decided to wait and see how well others were doing this job.

But the key question is not weather, it is, when those 100 days are over so that those who don’t like the government can officially criticise, molest or blast it!

Depending on how we calculate, those 100 days would be done at different times. If its straight count on the calendar, 100 days will be in end November. If we count working days only and discount the statuary holidays, the 100 days would be in mid-January 2019.

But then there are wiser folks, who have seen it, been there, and done that. Like Zardari Saahb. Like always, he knows somethings others don’t. And being a man of some honour in politics, he seemed to have acquiesced to the PTI’s request too.

When he spoke the day before, and said PTI government was not competent to either handle (perhaps, the affairs) or run (the country), I was taken aback to see him speak so soon!

Notwithstanding his judgement of incompetence of the PTI government, which triggered this piece, I thought to first understand his timing.

So lo and behold, I cracked his code: He calculated the 100 days the way days are counted in a jail, where each night is also counted as one day. Hence, it’s called ‘completing the term’.

It seems he gave the government a generous discount, by starting his count from the day PTI made the request, and then not counting the Eid and Ashura holidays.

Now, since we know how he counts, we can look at the merits and meaning of his comment.

Competence is an interesting word, unlike many other words of its tribe, viz. expertise, skills, capability, mastery, qualifications, et al, competence is quite a chameleon. It changes colours, shades, sense and feel, meaning and connotations from situation to situation.

Its almost like the Arabic word Jihad, and former English word ‘fundamentalist’- which, after 9/11, got Islamic identity and Pakistani nationality. However, competence will take a life time to transcend the realm and gain the same currency.

The meaning of competence are very boring in dictionary. In contrast, in real life and practice it seems so vibrant a word that, unless subjected to a dozen open interpretations, it doesn’t feel as competent as it is.

Dictionary defines competence as “the ability to do something successfully or efficiently”. The Human Resource folks go a step further from that reductionism and elaborate it as “the demonstrable characteristics that enable performance of a job, for properly doing the job, the individual requires skills and knowledge essential for the set duties”.

The HR definition thus says less and tells more.

In real life and practice in Pakistan, the rich elucidation of competence cannot be captured in this poor piece. However, I think if we look at a few examples of Pakistan’s other competent institutions, and the past governments, it would be easier to understand the wit and humour implied in Zardari Sahb’s critical appreciation.

First, a disclosure: I have always voted and supported PPP, and thus legitimately claim that the way we know our leader and his insight, others don’t, and can’t. So, if I say, he was only being playful and witty, take it.

Second, as you all know and would agree, it’s the job of lame supporters like me to further explain the words and deeds of their leaders, to make them look superior, and feel better.

What Zardari Saahb actually meant is that PTI is doing great and on the competence, the threshold is at par with others, including the last PPP and PML-N governments.

If you look at open and evident ‘competence’ of the judiciary, you would see how well has PTI done so far. If you look at Pak Army, the most competent arm of the State, its demonstrated track record of competent ‘handling’, and ‘running’, you too will see the light.

The peak of the latter’s competence dawned on certain 2nd May. On that, my suggestion: soon after the Labour Day on 1st May, we should commemorate Delivery Day on May 2nd.

So, take it easy folks; PPP leaders are not as anti-PTI or IK as you have been telling yourself!

In my view, PTI is far ahead in evincing its competence than PPP, and PML governments. Please count the 6 billion package IK won from the KSA, which neither PPP, or PML-N was able to.

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Arshed Bhatti

Arshed Bhatti

Arshed Bhatti is a typical Pakistani who operates at very high level of confidence with extremely low level of knowledge. Being true Muslim he believes the real life is in the hereafter and urges countrymen to take it easy, and enjoy the talk shows. He writes songs, satire and fake non-fiction. He tweets @CivilJunction