Pakistan: Challenges to New Government

Recent transition of power denotes the fragile democratic dispensation in the country. The institute could not develop on the strong footings despite various constitutional developments. It is evident from the recent constitutional crisis which held the country standstill for days. The government of Imran Khan had resisted his departure through various means that fall into the extra-constitutionalism. The flight from Naya Pakistan to Purana  bred uncertain circumstances which endangered the fragile democratic system of Pakistan. Imran khan not willing to relinquish the power through peaceful, constitutional and democratic practice enshrined as the No- Confidence motion in the supreme law of land. Rather he decried it a foreign conspiracy aimed at bringing down his government due to his decisive policies against the United States. Not only this, The PTI government called the opposition being played against him.

 To develop the rationale for the topic, one has to have a cursory glance at all the developments that rendered the country at the whim of constitutional crisis. Imran Khan and his government failed to deliver at the core governance and economic issues which entrenched a feeling of unease in the general public. Such an ineptitude resulted opposition to encash a vote of no confidence to remove Mr khan from the office. Being exposed to the danger , Mr khan went on building a narrative that US  is conspiring to have a regime change in Pakistan so this motion is hatched by them as a result of his visit to Russia on the eve of its invasion on Ukraine.  On 27th day of March he hoisted a letter which he referred a proof to American interference in the domestic affairs of Pakistan. On the basis of this letter Deputy Speaker of NA dismissed the motion by a ruling led Imran to dissolve a national Assembly instantly.. Both of these moves were declared unconditional and supreme court ordered to have  the voting on the move on 9th of April 2022. After too much delaying tactics on the given day finally at the last moments of the day voting was held only after the speaker of National Assembly and all the PTI MNAs resigned eventually Imran Khan lost the motion and was ousted.

Followed by unceremonious ouster, Shahbaz Shareef was  sworn in as the Prime Minister with 174 votes. This new set-up is the conglomeration of various parties having different ideological postures. They all came together to oust Imran and introduce some necessary electoral reforms prior to elections scheduled next year. Thus this new set up came at a time when the country is entangled with various challenges at the various fronts: economic indicators are not promising, political uncertainty has engulfed the every nook and corner of the country, people are struggling to meet their square meal etc. In such circumstances, the incumbent government must have all the parties on-board to carry out the necessary reforms to build a better future. Some of the important challenges are given following:

In this set-up the Unity within the ranks amounts to the oxygen for this alliance. As most of the parties have ideological differences.  For instance,, the PPP has always rooted its politics against the PML(N) so is vice versa. Same is the case with MQM and PPP who have based their politics against each other. The challenge to maintain this unity has already propped up. As JUI chief has already made a statement that he still wants fresh elections and fresh mandate. Similarly MQM leader Khalid Maqbool too stated that if their agreement with PPP does not holds ground in this government, he would backtrack from the alliance. Thus, this fragile alliance has a litmus test to go through it. How they act in such a critical phase of the country is yet to be seen.

An other challenge that played a key role to dissuade Imran Khan from public was economic stagnancy. This public backlash resulted by unprecedented inflation, deterioration in foreign reserves, widening gulf between exports and imports, discrepancies in balance of payments and unprecedented increase in twin fiscal t and current account deficits are a few issues  that turned the table against Imran Khan. In the meantime, new government requires an overhaul policy to  hit the crippling economy. As the Minister for finance has already gone to renegotiate the deal for $1bn tranche to consolidate the severe economic situation. IMF has demanded to withdraw the government subsidies on fuel and many other sectors which would result  swallowing some bitter pills such as; another wave of inflation for the people. The IMF is not a permanent solution to the Economic liabilities of Pakistan. This government needs to take some hard steps. As the elections are at the corner, thus the government—fearing public backlash— will not make any move that would harm their vote-bank. On the contrary this coalition needs to take the steps for the long-term benefits of the country not for their paltry interests.

The economic and social prosperity are directly proportional to the political stability of the country.  Tranquillity and peace is  absolutely necessary for the  smooth functioning of daily life. Since last 2 months, there has not been a single day where the political environment remained peaceful and quiet. There was a hope that the country would return to normalcy as the new set-up takes place. But the things have turned upside down as the PTI who claims to be the largest party of Pakistan has taken to the streets. They have shown their muscles through various power shows in Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore. Imran khan is mobilising the people to prepare for long march towards the capital. In such tense and troublesome environment dreaming the prosperity and normalcy is nothing but living in fool’s paradise.

 There is still a long way to prosperity. For heading a better future it is essential for the incumbent government to move in line with the establishment which is considered to be the fortune-runner.  The one page mantra should be realised in its true sense and spirit to rule the country unhindered. By keeping in mind the economic situation in mind, the state can not bear another crisis at the higher level.  So the moment requires all the stakeholders to build a consensus based policy that can serve Pakistan at large rather than paltry interests of a party or a small group of people.

Since the global order is rapidly shifting towards multi-polarity but still the US is world’s sole superpower. We can not risk our relations with it at any cost. The previous government at multiple events made a wrong choice of words that might strain our relationship with America and west which are our largest trading partners and exert their influence in much of the international organizations and institutions. The European Union has already given Pakistan a GSP+ status and a large proportion of our goods is exported to US. Having a confrontation with them would be a suicide mission. Imran Khan fantasised his ouster by US as he was heading towards an independent foreign policy. Such a posture made it difficult for the current government to re-establish the relation. Shehbaz Shareef must make some developments at this front to build the trust between Pakistan and western powers and have the peaceful and cooperative engagement with all the actors for the long-term interests of Pakistan.

Conclusively, The new government must head in a direction that at large serves the political, economic and social interests of Pakistan in long-term. The state, after a huge deadlock, is making its way to normalcy and ease, all the stakeholders including Imran khan must act wisely and should not disrupt the long awaited prosperity. The poor and middle class of the society has already bear the burden of long economic and political uncertainty. At this juncture of events we need consensus to move ahead for prosperous future.

Subhan Ali Lashari
Subhan Ali Lashari
Researcher at Quid i Azam University Islamabad having masters in Pakistan Studies.