Islamabad, Sep 8 : The new President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, will have to face five major challenges posed by rising militancy, a failing economy, fledgling democracy, conflict with India, and his own personal safety.
More realistically, he is supposed "to respond to Western pressure to crack down on Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan, motivate donors to top up the country's foreign currency reserves to prevent a run on the rupee, deal with demands to release Dr AQ Khan and restore Iftikhar Chaudhry, and face pressures to resign as co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), restore parliament's powers at the expense of the presidency, and continue the peace process with India".
But seen from the point of view of real politik, there is only one challenge - the mother of all challenges - he has to face and win quickly. That is to continue and win the war against religious terrorism in the face of a parliament and a nation that is more inclined to "opt out of it", the Daily Times reported.
The job of running the anti-terrorism campaign in tandem with the army is going to be complicated by some sections of the state apparatus that insist on holding on to the old tactical pawns meant for the chessboard of Afghanistan and Kashmir.
Worse, any necessary change of policy on Afghanistan and India is vulnerable to adverse media comment by columnists and anchors who still adhere to the old strategic paradigm, the Paper said.
The PPP government has already made its intentions clear about putting its relations with India on a new footing through a "pro-India" trade policy. But in the coming days more incidents in the Tribal Areas and Balochistan might give rise to recidivist emotions longing to bring Pakistan's old conflicts back.
The jihadi organisations were disbanded but kept alive by President Pervez Musharraf. The tough job for Zardari would be to demobilise them and separate them from al Qaeda.
That is why stabilising the transition to civilian democracy will be a challenge in these circumstances.