News / Asia

New Pakistan Government Will Face Serious Challenges

Former prime minister and leader of Pakistan Muslim League-N party, Nawaz Sharif, gestures while speaking to members of the media at his residence in Lahore, Pakistan, May 13, 2013.
Former prime minister and leader of Pakistan Muslim League-N party, Nawaz Sharif, gestures while speaking to members of the media at his residence in Lahore, Pakistan, May 13, 2013.
Ayaz Gul
Two-time former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, is poised to become Pakistan’s head of government for a record third time after his party’s victory in Saturday’s parliamentary elections. But serious economic and security challenges await the new government.
 
The historic May 11 polls were held to elect the 272-seat National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, and four provincial legislatures. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League, or PML-N, claims it won a clear majority at the national level and captured two-thirds of the seats in the country’s most populous province and political power base, Punjab.
 
There have been allegations of vote rigging and other irregularities in some areas and it will be a few days before election authorities receive results from all constituencies across the country to officially confirm if Sharif’s party is the winner.
 
But the former prime minister has already received messages of congratulations from countries such as the United States, India and Afghanistan. Sharif has also begun consultations with his party leaders and independent candidates in the parliament on forming a new central government.
 
Analysts, such as the former chairman of the Pakistani Senate, Waseem Sajjad, say that in addition to dealing with a serious financial crunch, a deepening energy crisis will be a major worry for the new government because it will worsen with the rise in temperature in coming weeks.   
 
“And the people would expect the government to deliver," he said. "They will give them some time but I don’t think the people will give too much time to the new government to resolve these issues.”
 
Nawaz Sharif comes from a business family, and policies he introduced during his previous terms to boost the national economy won him praise among the business community. His party officials say they are in a hurry to take charge so they can focus on economic challenges. They are also citing this week’s unprecedented surge in the Karachi stock market as evidence of their leadership’s credibility on the economic front.
 
Sharif's party has been in favor of holding talks with the Pakistani Taliban to bring an end to the problem of militancy in the country that has killed thousands of people. Some are hopeful his policies may bring peace, but others are worried about a possible rise in Islamic radicalism.
 
Human rights activist Tahira Abdullah recalls the so-called 15th constitutional amendment that Sharif tried to push through the parliament, just before a military coup deposed him in 1999, to introduce Sharia or Islamic law in the country.
 
“I think he did not last long enough to enact the 15th constitutional amendment, which would have taken us further right towards an Islamist constitution and an Islamist government. So we are going to keep a watchful vigilant watchdog eye on the incoming PML-N-led coalition government,” Abdullah said.
 
But Mushahid Hussain, who chairs the Senate Committe on Defense, says that despite fears of Taliban attacks nearly 60 percent of the eligible 86 million voters showed up at polling stations to cast their vote. This, he says, sends a strong message to critics at home and abroad that Pakistanis are not in favor of religious extremism.
 
“I think the biggest messages [from the high turnout] is not terrorism, no to militancy, no to extremism and a resounding yes to the power of the ballot over the bullet," he said. "And I think it shows that the Pakistan society at its core has a deeply democratic ethos, and given half a chance that ethos is practically demonstrated at the polling stations as it was with the resounding turnout, which means that the fear was overcome of the bombs because the ballot was so supreme.”
 
Analysts say that under Sharif, Pakistan’s relations with neighboring India are likely to improve because of his past initiatives aimed at resolving bilateral disputes through peaceful talks.
 
But they say that the prevailing controversy over the issue of U.S. drone strikes will be a major stumbling block in fostering better ties between Washington and Islamabad. Former Senate Chairman Sajjad says that the majority of the people are opposed to the drone attacks and Sharif promised his supporters during the election campaign that he will seek an immediate end to this U.S. program.  
 
“They cannot go back on the expectations that they have created [because] there will be a huge backlash in Pakistan," he said. "So I think the Obama administration will in a mature way have to understand the situation in Pakistan and they will have to resolve these issues through dialogue between Pakistan and the United States."
 
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Sharif said his country has “good relations” with the United States but he called the drone campaign against suspected al-Qaida operatives in Pakistani tribal areas a very serious challenge to national sovereignty.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
May 13, 2013 10:58 PM
Well, in my opinion, this will definitively be a step back for women's rights, and the rights of minorities; the issue of Sharia becoming the state law, will once again come to the forefront; with Sharif in power the Islamists, including the Taliban, will have an open ally in charge; he will want US$, but not to cooperate in the war against terrorists, or the source of their income. The issue of corruption will not change, and the economy will not become more self-sustaining. If any changes come to pass, they will push Pak to a more closed and even less transparent society/gvmt. At least an election was held, and a new potential gvmt was elected; will see what the actual gvmt will look like.....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs