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August 3, 2018
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Beginning of a Naya Pakistan

Islamabad

August 3, 2018

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It would have been a dream start for Imran Khan's Naya Pakistan, had his party got a simple majority without the support of independents and coalition partners like in the case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He has left with no other option but to make some compromises to form the government, which has already delayed as even the first session of the National Assembly has not been convene yet. It will be quite a challenge for him to enforce his first 100-days plan, which will start from the day he will take oath as prime minister.

But, the PM-in-making has already decided not to lay the foundation of Naya Pakistan from a fort-like PM House. Instead, he will be running the government from the house in Minister's Enclave like 10-Downing Street and will receive all dignities there.

His nominated CMs and governors will also have to follow the leader and won’t use the official residences. It would be interesting to see whether the PPP’s CM in Sindh will also follow this precedence or not.

While Imran has announced converting all these huge houses into universities or institutes, the Governor’s House in Karachi has special significance, as it was used as Governor General’s House by Quaid-e-Azam Independence and had a symbolic and historic value.

There is no need to take decisions in haste for Imran, but one agrees with him that it should not be used as official residence of PM, CM and governor.

The people of Naya Pakistan will be watching the austerity in Naya Pakistan. Imran can learn from some good examples set by some of his predecessors like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Muhammad Khan Junejo and Meraj Khalid.

Bhutto was the architect of awami style and made common men’s dress, shalwar and kameez, popular among all the classes and used it in official functions as well. He also did not allow his ministers to carry national flag on their cars. At times, he used to take journey by train. Bhutto also restricted the policy of awards which was also made part of the Constitution in Article, 259. After Gen Zia, it was blatantly misused.

He also took oath as prime minister at a public venue before the people. So if Imran has expressed his desire to take oath at D-Chowk, which symbolises his struggle and 126-day dharna, the President of Pakistan should not deny him this right. Unfortunately, the President House rejected his plea in haste as they could have waited for the first official meeting between the two.

Similarly, Junejo made a historic decision in terms of austerity by issuing order that all civil and military officials would use small cars and it was made part of official policy. Imran can revive this practice and should not become hostage to protocol SOPs. There is no doubt that security is important but he has to see the difference between security and protocol.

There should not be any discretionary powers or funds of the PM or CMs in Naya Pakistan and Imran can announce this in his first official address to the nation. Similarly, he could announce abolishing the VVIP and VIP culture in the country and there should not be any discretionary quota or separate counters for MNAs, MPAs, senators or other segments of society except for old people. He can all also abolish all types of secret funds.

The PTI emerged as a single largest party in July 25 elections with 116 seats, but since it was short of the required number of 171 needed for simple majority, it was left with no other choice but to compromise in a bid to reach the magical figure necessary to get elected as the Leader of the House and the PM.

The situation in Punjab is even more uncomfortable as the PML-N emerged as single largest party, but now with the support of Independent and allies like PML-Q, the PTI is in a position to form the government.

Imran will now have to pick the best from the available lot – the candidates for speakers and deputy speakers in the national and provincial assemblies.

All eyes are on Imran's decision for the all powerful slots of chief minister in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while both PTI and BAP have already nominated Jam Kamal of BAP as the candidate for Balochistan CM.

The post-July 25 scenario indicates the basic challenge ahead for the new PM – how to bring political stability and to take opposition along on major issues. Imran can announce formation of a judicial commission to address the grievances of the opposition and even of his own allies like PML-Q and MQM regarding rigging in the elections. Therefore we still have to wait for about 10 to 15 days before the formal beginning of Naya Pakistan.

Imran and PTI have to prepare themselves for the first session of the National Assembly, which will be noisy, stormy and one can also expect pandemonium. A strong opposition is likely to keep the new PM and the government on their feet and they are mentally prepared to face the opposition led by PML-N and PPP. Imran too is mentally strong.

Oath-taking of MNAs will be followed by the election for the Speaker and later for the PM, which will not be through secret ballot but by show of hand. Who will be the candidate from the opposition? Will there be a consensus among the Grand Opposition Alliance? If so then will it be Shahbaz Sharif or Bilawal Bhutto?

The election of the Leader of the House will be followed by the first official meeting of the PM-elect and the president before the oath-taking. Therefore, the possible date for the first PM of Naya Pakistan is between August 11 and August 14. Both dates are important as on August 11, 1947, Quaid-e-Azam made the historic speech before the Constituent Assembly and laid down the policy and the vision of Pakistan. August 14 is Pakistan's 71 Independence Day.

The challenge for the new government and the PM would be immense but Imran khan is no stranger to the world and recognized at least in the cricketing world as Pakistan's most dashing captain. The kind of reaction he got from former cricketers and veterans from India to England and from West Indies to Australia, he enjoyed the reputation of a good leader.

Those who knows both cricket and politics, there are few similarities, if one wants to adopt including discipline on and off the field, decision making, right move or right choice at the right time and neutral umpires. What has damage both cricket and politics is too much money and match-fixing by the outsiders. Can Imran make the Naya Pakistan, they way he played his cricket with discipline, spirit and by taking right decision?

No one was sure that Pakistan would win 1992 World Cup except one man, Imran Khan as recently quoted by former captain Ramiz Raja. No one had predicted Imran as Prime Minister ten years back. Today he has led his party to victory and all set to form the new government.

The writer is a senior columnist and analyst of GEO, The News and Jang.

Twitter: @MazharAbbasGEO

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