The winds of change began to blow across the country. PTI won the Center, as well as the provinces of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, as well as the management of a notable presence in Sindh. What Imran Khan is destined to become Pakistan’s prime minister is in the air.
The fact that the combined PML-N and the PPP could not match the number of PTI seats, showed that the peasants massively rejected the huge parties to build Naya Pakistan with Imran Khan.
With Khan now in the saddle, the real test of his ability as a leader has begun. In the face of the country’s numerous and serious economic challenges, the energy crisis, internal and border security, civil-military relations and foreign policy are not an easy task.
A first timer, Khan will have to act in the right direction to keep his promises of a welfare state close to Medina, general responsibility, 10 million jobs, broadened tax base, depoliticized police, sovereign foreign policy, etc.
He talked a lot about children who do not go to school and now it’s time to practice what he preached throughout his 20 years of struggle. Karachi deserves the special attention of Khan. As promised, it is necessary to lay the foundations for converting it into a metropolitan city, making available the facilities that a metropolitan city deserves.
However, in politics, the real match begins after the victory. This means that the new government of Pakistan, led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), will face a number of challenges intelligently. Some big challenges facing the government of IK:
In the first place, it is wrong to say that Pakistan has never had a lasting and productive military and civil relationship since its creation. The science of successful execution of a nation-state requires a competent rule of civilians. This general rule derives from the historical experience of state management since the beginning of the world era of modern states, following the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648.
As long as Pakistanis remain stuck in solving the problem instead of solving the problem, harmonious civil-military relations will still be difficult to achieve. The new government will soon have to find a modus vivendi that emphasizes mutual cooperation rather than internal interference supported by the rule of law.
The next step, closely linked to the challenge of building civil-military cooperation, is economic growth. The country has been waiting since 1947 for an economic miracle. The need of the hour is not to qualify the constitutional points on who has priority over whom, but for the new government to work tirelessly to ensure a national socio-economic transformation.
If the new government achieves the modest goal of GDP growth, it will be in a very strong and respectable position in the hierarchy of spheres. If it achieves the ambitious goal of GDP, it can finally find the supremacy that all Pakistani civilian governments have always wanted, but none has acted wisely and tirelessly.
And another big belly challenge by the next government is linked to the challenge of economic transformation is the challenge of the compression of work and recreation. The new government will have to do more with less. This can be done by doing more by converting 24 hours a day into working hours seven days a week by introducing the system of three daily shifts of 8 hours each in all areas of national life.
This is possible given our demographic dividend. Embraced by a solid, well-designed and multipartite national development plan, this is the only way to offset the room for maneuver and take over. This is the true meaning of Quaid-i-Azam’s advice to “work, work and just work”.
The next major challenge for the next government will coincide with the challenge of developing the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which, according to the China-Pakistan Long-Term Plan for the CPEC, is supposed to consist of: almost completed the national “industrial system”; coordinated development and activation of the “main economic functions”; significant improvement in “people’s livelihoods through the CPEC”; “balanced regional economic development”; and achieving “all Vision 2025 goals”.
This is a long and exhausting timeline of national achievements that will not be achieved unless there is institutional harmony, political stability and inter-provincial coordination, public participation, public-private collaboration and temporal compression strategies.
Last but not least, Pakistan’s imminent failure as a country could be the biggest challenge of the new government. This is the challenge that all previous governments have only aggravated.
Civilization, in the final analysis, is the art of building and living in cities and towns. Pakistanis fail terribly in this art. Instead of places where people can thrive in prosperity, health, satisfaction and virtue, our cities are quickly becoming urban wastelands where deprivation, disease, misery and vice have begun to spiral out of control. This civilizing failure of Pakistan is based on the abysmal interaction between people, the state-society relations in search of rents, and a relationship between society and the exploitative nature.
The new government will have to plan the positioning of Pakistan’s cities to become engines of growth and not giants of the arrested development. How is it that the new government is addressing these five major challenges with concentration and coherence in the current atmosphere of acute political and institutional polarization? Without social stability based on political stability, national development risks being locked into the complex role of political conflict. Looking forward to see what Khan Sahab will do in our Naya Pakistan.
The writer is an Advocate High Court Islamabad and teaches at the Best Law College, Rawalpindi.