Naya Pakistan: The Challenges Ahead By M Zafar Khan Safdar

Imran Khan and his party are all set to form the new government. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged as the single largest party in the country, securing a simple majority in the National Assembly. A total of 137 seats are required to form the central government, and so far the PTI is the closest to that number with a very wide margin. Millions of voters flocked to polling stations to exercise their voting rights and they did so despite threats from terrorists. One suicide attack in Quetta claimed at least 32 lives.
The exact voter turnout in this election is yet to be confirmed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), but observers and political analysts agree that it was encouragingly high. While PTI is celebrating its landslide victory, other major parties have rejected election results, levelling serious rigging allegations. These parties include the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Muttahida Majlis-e-Aamal (MMA). They will now hold an All Parties Conference before holding a press conference today in Islamabad to determine their future course of action.
During his victory speech yesterday, Kaptaan repeated some points from his party manifesto. He reiterated that his focus will be on human development. He also called for zero tolerance on corruption, accountability for all and stronger ties with neighbouring countries, especially India.
This is a man who once accused his main political rival of being Modi ka yaar. Now he says “it will be very good for all of us if we have good relations with India. We need to have trade ties, and the more we will trade, both countries will benefit”. Regardless, changes in foreign policy happen at the discretion of the establishment. This is a different ball game and while setting ambitious targets is praiseworthy, can Imran Khan achieve these goals and complete his tenure without the establishment’s consent?
PTI has difficult times ahead because of a fiery opposition, which is not ready to accept the electoral results or Imran Khan as the country’s Prime Minister
PTI also has difficult times ahead because of a fiery opposition, which is not ready to accept the electoral results or Imran Khan as the country’s Prime Minister. Imran Khan and PTI need to develop a working relationship very quickly which is based on new realities. The PTI chief now needs to play the role of a mature and patriotic politician. The geopolitics of the region also demand that we have close ties with China, India, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, the UK and the US.
PTI will have to perform in the first 100 days as per its manifesto, otherwise it’s supporters will become disillusioned and ultimately turn against it. The party has promised10 million jobs and no less than 5 million low-cost housing units.
It has also vowed to bring looted wealth back to Pakistan, the revival of at least 100 industries, transforming Karachi, emphasis on the green revolution, fighting against corruption and much more. Though Khan has on many occasions admitted failure in evolving a system of accountability in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as a lack of urgency and direction, he has vowed to bring positive changes this term. The new PTI led government will urgently need to deal with a mounting economic crisis. Four currency devaluations since December have made it likely they will seek another International Monetary Fund bailout. High inflation is already squeezing the people dry and Pakistan’s benchmark stock index rose as much as 1.9 percent. The road to Naya Pakistan won’t be easy but often difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.
The verdict of the people has not been in favour of nationalist or religious parties in KP and Balochistan. This must now become the springboard to launch new political initiatives to bring FATA into the political mainstream. Faced with such complex challenges, all sides have to take one step back, think hard about the best option the country should adopt and formulate a national consensus to move forward. The people of Pakistan have reposed their trust in their elected representatives and the latter must now rise to the occasion.
The writer is PhD Political Science, Civil Servant based in Islamabad. He can be reached at
Published in Daily Times, July 27th 2018.

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