A 21-member government led by Imran Khan has come to power in Pakistan.
With the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerging as the single largest party in the National Assembly elections, his Prime Ministership was almost certain. It was the support of the youth who took over Imran's concept of 'new Pakistan' with immense hope that enabled him to survive the conservative influence of Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML) in the Punjab province and Bilawal Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in the Sindh province. Since Imran assumes office as a response to the new generation's protest towards the conservative Pak politics that has been tainted with corruption and crass nepotism, the people of Pakistan see Imran's assumption of office with immense expectation. Despite the support of 33 reserved seats, there was a shortage of 14 seats in order to prove his majority in the Parliament. Imran calculated and won majority for the government by ensuring the support of smaller parties.
The epic victory is one sure to spur Imran to create a new Pakistan. Further, winning power in the Punjab province in coalition with Muslim League (Q) will be a blow to Nawaz Sharif. For Nawaz Sharif, now in jail with a 10-year sentence handed by the Supreme Court, the only way out from prison will be through a political victory. The first challenge before Imran will be to overpower the broad opposition of an all-party alliance being attempted by the politician adept at political maneuverings that Nawaz Sharif is. The PPP has at present decided to become part of that alliance. And in Pakistan's deep state, both Nawaz Sharif and PPP have considerable influence.
The factor that enabled Imran get past the political moves of Nawaz Sharif is the co-operation of the military. Together with this, the support of small popular parties at regional levels also come to his aid. But these two parties will remain the main factor that will internally weaken the attempts to create a new Pakistan. The apprehension that surfaced immediately following the publication of the result was that Imran's lack of experience in governance will lead to a subservience to the military. Indian deputy foreign minister VK Singh did hint at that, and also expressed India's dissatisfaction with that.
It is also doubtful if the co-operation of smaller parties, marked by emotional positions and contradictory approaches, will help in furthering Imran's agenda in the long run. Imran's compulsion to adopt stances on certain social issues, which contradicted his earlier position, was a result of pressures from such groupings. Even within the party ranks, there is the fear that his quick-tempered nature may make him fall for the Opposition tactics. The reason why he failed to address the whole nation in his speech soon on assuming office as prime minister, was under the influence of such temperament.
Like the military, the other two factors that define Pak politics, are the relations with America and China. Even Pakistan's policy towards India is determined by the combination of these factors, although the overtly declared driver is the Kashmir issue. It will be no easy task for Imran to restore the bilateral relations with America to what it used to be. Currently, the more trusted ally to the US, is India than Pakistan. It was when Imran got certain to ascend to power that US Congress decided to curtail America's annual aid to Pakistan from the earlier 750 million dollars to 150 million. The reaction of Trump to Imran and his alliance was not optimistic either. Therefore, the assumption of India is that Imran's government will go further in its excessive co-operation with China.
Both the Modi government and the Imran-led government in Pakistan are existing and expressing opinions at arm's length. Unlike the instance of Nawaz Sharif being invited for Modi's swearing-in, the decision of Pakistan was not to invite Indian prime minister to Imran's swearing-in. India also feels that the new government in Islamabad will raise the Kashmir issue at international forums louder than previous governments did. But a Pakistan that prepares itself for a change can best do that through good relations with India. The future of Pakistan's democracy, which is going through complexities, ultimately depends on the capacity of Imran to create a new Pakistan.