M Zafar Khan Safdar
IMRAN Khan and his Party is all set to form new government. PTI emerged the single largest Party of the country securing simple majority in the National Assembly. A total of 137 seats is required to form government, which PTI has already secured in GE 2018. Millions of voters flocked to polling stations to exercise their ballot amid violence, including a suicide attack in Quetta that claimed at least 32 lives. Exact percentage of voters’ turnout in this election is yet to be confirmed by the election commission of Pakistan, but observers and political analysts agree that voters’ turnout was encouragingly high. While PTI is celebrating its landslide victory, all major political parties, on the other hand, have rejected the result of GE 2018 levelling serious allegations of rigging on the behest of Election Commission and the establishment. These political parties include PML-N, PPP, MMA and NP.
Imran Khan, the Prime Minister to be, during his victory speech has repeated some points of his party’s manifesto and reiterated that his focus will be on human development. He called for supremacy of law, end to political victimisation, zero tolerance for corruption, stronger institutions, accountability for all, end to protocol and status quo, stronger ties with neighbouring countries especially India, employment opportunities, economic development, conversion of PM House, Governor Houses and other public offices into public places and hotels, tuning of foreign policy and tabling national policies to benefit the poor, women and minorities. He also invited the Opposition to join hand for prosperity of the country and stop claim rigging in the election. He however, was quick enough to call the GE 2018 as the cleanest election in Pakistan’s history.
I wonder how anyone could be so quick to change a narrative from “Modi Ka Yaar” to “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”. But Imran Khan did that, and more of it he called for a “change in foreign policy”, which most of us believe is the “discretion” of Establishment. This different ball game and setting extremely ambitious targets is praise-worthy but can Imran Khan achieve these and complete his tenure without the “consent” of Establishment. Yes, he can only if Establishment is not ‘tried’ with ‘curtail of powers’. PTI, however, will have much difficult times ahead to deal with fiery Opposition, which is not ready to accept the electoral results and IK as the Prime Minister of the country. Imran Khan and PTI need to develop a working relationship quickly, based on the new realities. Imran Khan now needs to play the role of a mature and patriotic politician.
The geopolitics of the region also recommends that China, India, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, the UK, the USA and many other countries must be taken on board for good ties. What is a bit worrisome is the politico–military–extremist situation. The extremist organizational machineries operating from Indian-Afghan border needs to be dealt with in a manner by the new government that prove enough against extremism and results in peace. PTI will have to show its performance in first 100 days as per its manifesto, otherwise the promise to liberating the ‘old Pakistan’ will be considered as eyewash. 10 million jobs and no less than 5 million low-cost housing units, bringing back to Pakistan looted wealth, revival of at least 100 industries, transforming Karachi, emphasis on the green revolution, fight against corruption, strict monitoring system and much more. Though IK on many occasions admitted to have failed in evolving a system of accountability in KP, and lack of urgency and direction, he 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 squeezing the people dry and Pakistan’s benchmark stock index rose as much as 1.9 percent, poised for the highest since June 21. The road to “Naya Pakistan” is truly challenging but often difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.
The verdict of the people has not been in favour of nationalist and religious parties in KP and Balochistan but in support of liberal and moderate forces, which must now become the springboard to launch new political initiatives to bring FATA into the political mainstream. Faced with such complex challenges, all the sides have to take one step back, think hard about the best option the country should adopt, keep freedom and discussion open 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 up to the occasion.
—The writer is Civil Servant based in Islamabad.