Pakistan: Imran Khan in power is like Third Front forming government in India
Islamabad, July 27: It's like the Third Front coming to power in India. Preliminary results that came out after the general elections in Pakistan held on Wednesday, July 25, showed that Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) did better than what most had predicted.
The pre-poll surveys had forecast a wafer-thin majority for the PTI but they have done better than that. Now, it has to be seen how the party forms the government - on its own or with help of some other smaller groups. Whatever it is, the PTI - which has never tasted power at the national level - will have its task cut out.
Imagine an Arvind Kejriwal or Mamata Banerjee becoming the prime minister of India with both the national parties - the BJP and Congress - getting relegated to the Opposition ranks. India saw instances where non-BJP and non-Congress prime ministers assuming power in the past. However, they were supported by either of the two major parties for their survival and none of them survived their full term. In case of Imran Khan, he has rubbished possibility of allying either with the PML-N or the PPP, the two major parties that have dominated Pakistan's political landscape over the decades.
But how easy will be Khan's stint in governance?
First of all, after the tense and chaotic election the results of which have been rejected by most parties, including the PML-N and PPP, the upcoming parliament will be deeply divided and it will be immensely challenging for Khan to find consensus on issues, even more if his government is a minority one. The delay in the release of results has already made Khan's opposition cynical about the election and their loss and they will make every effort to hit back once the new government takes charge, most probably in the second week of August.
Parties like the PML-N and PPP are more adept in parliamentary politics owing to their years of experience while for the PTI, being in governance will be for the first time. Imagine a 'prime minister Kejriwal' facing both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi in the Opposition ranks in parliament.
The PTI has shown its strength so far more in the form of street protests (its only experience in governance has been in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkwa) but inside the parliament, we yet don't know.
Thirdly, despite the PTI's good show in the general elections, its presence in the 104-seat Senate or the Upper House of the Pakistani parliament is still quite less (12) and that would create a major obstacle for the party in getting its legislation see daylight.
In Pakistan, all legislations have to pass through both the parliamentary houses except the money bill. Despite its 'go alone' policy, the PTI will have to depend on other parties in the Senate to get its laws approved. In case it fails, could we see Khan doing a Kejriwal by agitating on the streets against his own government as it had done during his first stint as the chief minister of Delhi for 49 days in 2013-14?
Fourthly, the PTI's main challenge in governance will be resurrecting the economy and not ties with India. The PTI did the right thing by prioritising economic growth in its pre-poll 100-point plan. Now, how it will go about it? Pakistan is facing a soaring external financial burden. The import is high while the export is less and foreign direct investment is also too low, leaving Pakistan under a serious balance of payment problem. The PTI though has prioritised the problem, it has not come up with a concrete plan to tackle it. Imran Khan so far has looked a leader with more populist appeal and idealistic vision to resurrect Pakistan's fortunes.
But what about the roadmap?