“The best example of democracy I can recall is five wolves sitting down to dinner with one sheep.”
Charles De Montesquieu once whispered this about the concept of good governance within the democratic governments which sets the first-rate rule for any government in any part of the world even in modern days.
After going through the process of elections, the majority of Pakistanis have given their consensus in the favor of PTI led by Imran Khan to make efforts for the future of Pakistan. Although, there have been allegations of pre-poll and post-poll rigging, but despite these factors PTI has emerged as a powerful political party with its schema of corruption free and educated Pakistan. For many years, PTI has been struggling hard to enter into power corridors with majority of youth, overseas diaspora and people backing it fed up with old-style political forces of country such as PML (N), PPP, ANP and few religious parties, though some might disagree.
This time PTI was able to attain the mandatory number of seats to form a government at federal level. PTI entered into the electoral process with the manifesto of leading change in almost every sphere of Pakistani society and government functioning. Along with a fortifying mandate it has inherited certain challenges on domestic and international fronts. People are expectant of drastic changes and hopes are very high for the newly elected government. But, the real mettle of PTI will be determined by how and whether it will be able to combat all these challenges.
The first and top most contest will be dealing with the issue of accusations of rigging. A transparent body without the involvement of the ECP and other alleged institutions should be setup to remove the grievances and resentment of disparate parties. Once the misgivings are cleared, this will boost the morale of PTI’s rule in the general public, as well as among the opposition parties that lost in voting. PTI Chairperson Imran Khan while delivering his speech after the election victory has shown commitment to resolve all issues inside the country and foreign relations with a comprehensive approach, which ostensibly is a very good beginning. PM-elect Imran Khan has clearly identified areas that require leadership’s special consideration as they have been lingering for years with no concrete improvement in the due course of history.
On the domestic front, the government has to tackle the issue of the failing economy. The National exchequer is out of balance currently. The rupee is suffering from degradation in comparison to the US dollar. Foreign reserves are extremely low and national debts are increasing at a rapid pace. And imbalance of exports and imports is further deteriorating the current state of affairs. GDP proportion is also not very decent, which is highlighting low productivity. Different sectors like agriculture, services and industrial segments are all showing alarming situations. Pakistan frequently relies on foreign aid and contributions even in making its annual budget to run the state. Karachi being the commercial hub of Pakistan’s economy needs special concentration because the situation there affects the entire country. These poor practices have to be stopped or else national prestige will be lost with no control over autonomously policy making.
Good governance is among other issues to be dealt with by the expert, knowledgeable and honest crew. The former government faced heavy criticism of corruption, malpractices, nepotism and lack of transparency in investing and distribution of development funds. The situation regarding domestic law and order is not very good. Crimes, terrorist attacks and the functioning of police and other law enforcement agencies has been dubious. Attacks on human rights are being unheeded e.g., child abuse, abduction, rape and the restraining freedom of expression have become routine perils of the society with no feeling of shame. Constitutional loopholes and patronage of miscreants by powerful elites add fuel to the fire in such cases. Moral standards of society need to be up stretched to curtail such malevolent activities. Rulers themselves set the examples for the masses to follow. These can only be rooted out via terminating discernment and safeguarding the supremacy of law.
The pursuit of national cohesion can only be attained by giving due consideration to the real problems, including the mainstreaming of neglected areas and attending to dispiriting ethnic conflicts. The terrains falling into the government jurisdiction must have national deliberation so that nobody should feel isolated and neglected in national growth. FATA and Baluchistan need special attention in the contemporary scenario as they have been habitually ignored by the preceding governments. Until the root causes of their glitches are understood, no effort to improve the situation will succeed. Conditions in the interior Sindh and Baluch belt of Baluchistan and South Punjab are not pleasing.
Sectarian violence is another major issue that needs to be synchronized on a priority basis. Dissimilar religious sects are involved in hate speeches thus invoking illiterate masses to use violent means to pursue their objectives. A board comprising of Ullamas of all sects can define an acceptable strategy to curb this hazard. Likewise, the rights of minorities especially Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis should not be allowed to be violated. They are all Pakistanis and they should be given full right to practice their religion according to the constitution. Instability and ferocity only occurs when the rights of certain communities or individuals are not rewarded accordingly.
Political stability is the dire need of Pakistan, along with eliminating the institutional tug of war to undermine each other. This government has to deal with this sensitive issue carefully to dislodge the institutional distrust and to be able to move on to the road of progress and prosperity with collective national wisdom.
In terms of external relations Pakistan should not compromise at any price on its national stature and sovereignty. Kashmir and Afghanistan issues have occupied a majority of our policies emphasis. The solution of these issues is very important for Pakistan’s own stability and solidarity. In this context, ties with neighboring countries like India and Afghanistan should be addressed. In this nuclear age no country can afford war. This is an age of peaceful co-existence. The international community has not done enough to resolve these matters, and South Asian nations themselves have to reconcile to accommodate each other. As a whole, this region is suffering from poverty, illiteracy and a low standard of life. Reducing arms expenditure can benefit the poor majority of both India and Pakistan.
Key powers like the US, China and Russia cannot ignore this part of the world because of its geostrategic significance. Pakistan has to gain maximum results for its own national interest while engaging with these powerful nations. Pakistan’s friendly states like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China are vital countries from the Pakistani perspective. Especially the relationship with China should not be bargained for at any cost as only the efficacious completion of CPEC project will upsurge our national income. The foreign investment prone milieu is only possible to be dispensed with if long glooms of terrorism are rooted out. Pakistan’s international image should be improved to shelter diplomatic accomplishments. The role of the US is crucial in this region and Pakistan has to deal with the US in its shifting regional alignments especially with regards to its growing intimacy with India.
In a nutshell, it can be avowed that the new government has to come up with high standards on both domestic and international levels, because people are expecting much more than they were from the earlier governments. The economy, law and order, education, health, individual rights and foreign policy are the core areas under spectrum. No development in the regional perspective should be permitted to undermine Pakistan’s stature of equality with India at least to secure its endurance. Hopes are high and if unmet will disappoint the public despondently. However, let’s stay optimistic and give this government a chance to demonstrate its value. The stalwarts of PTI must be mindful of it and expectedly work for certifying true essence of democracy.
*Fateh Najeeb Bhatti, Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute Islamabad, holds M. Phil in IR from Quaid e Azam University Islamabad