Cyril Almeida wrote in The Dawn that, “Messier could delay Imran’s plans, but messier could also bring the whole damn thing crashing down on everyone’s heads.” In spite of the fact that PTI has emerged as the single largest party yet it is still short of full majority. The opposition is gathering their rank and file to pose a challenge to Imran to gather support to form the government. Even with the military support the rumour mill is gathering storm over rigged elections. Judiciary in Pakistan of late has emerged stronger and has shown the guile to even dethrone a sitting Prime Minster and lock him up in jail. Same judiciary has issued a veil threat to Army and ISI to refrain from interference in functioning of the state institutions. Even if PTI is able to hold on to the support of allies’, threat from judiciary will remain with the incidents of poll rigging surfacing each day. Thus will Imran survive for five years is a big question?
Second challenge that faces the new government is empty coffers and no sign of economic recovery at the moment. Bailout to Pakistan from IMF is facing stiff resistance because Pakistan has already faltered on repayment of loans to China, World Bank and IMF. AT this stage even US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that any potential International Monetary Fund bailout for Pakistan’s new government should not provide funds to pay off Chinese lenders. That leaves Pakistan with limited choice of either allowing itself to fall in a ‘debt trap’ or force Chinese lenders to renegotiate the loan terms. In either case Imran will be under pressure from opposition for sell out to the Chinese on CEPC. Economic turnaround at a time when Pakistan is included in the Financial Action Task Force’s ‘grey list’ is near impossible. It means that Pakistan’s financial system is seen as a risk for being ineffective in combating terror funding and money laundering. Pakistan having put on grey list has severely damaged the prospects of FDI.
Imran is also seen as the puppet PM of Army and thus it is uncertain whether Imran will be able to emerge out of the shadow of Army or will remain a prisoner of policies of Pak Army. No matter how good is the intent of Imran to improve the relations with India, but it is unlikely that he will be given space by Pak Army, Jihadi elements in his government and opposition to develop good relations with India.
Will he be able to control the spread of extremist’s ideology in Punjab and other parts? It is going to be the biggest challenge for his government. No institution in Pakistan today is able to directly confront the Jihadi elements East of Indus River. With the economic situation worrisome, rising Jihadi ideology in Punjab, fragmented polity, rogue ISI and dwindling international support to Pakistan, the task for Imran is full of pot holes. His inexperience of running a government will also pose severe challenge thus he may either take Pakistan down with himself or if he is able to steer Pakistan out of this messy situation he may become a modern Jinnah who triggered resurgence of new Pakistan.
India must not be in a hurry to either cast him aside or show eagerness to talk to him. In the initial period till he gains his firm footing, it is advisable to go slow and if indicators suggest that he seems to be in firm saddle and emerging out of the shadow of Army and Jihadi, India could take initiative to start a meaningful dialogue. Till then let the business be as usual.