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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid