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Managing lofty expectations huge challenge for PTI govt

By Murtaza Ali Shah
August 06, 2018

LONDON: Two leading academics on Pakistan’s politics and economy have said that huge challenges lie ahead for the next government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and managing lofty expectations by the PTI leadership could be the biggest of all the challenges.

Professor Muhammad Waseem, from the LUMS and Dr Adnan Qadir Khan of London School of Economics (LSE) spoke at a seminar organised by Bloomsbury Pakistan and SOAS Pakistan Society to discuss different aspects of the recent elections in Pakistan. The seminar on “General elections in Pakistan 2018 and its aftermath” was chaired by Dr David Taylor.

Professor Waseem said results in the KP suggested that the voters have opted out of Pashtun nationalist sentiment and adopted pan-Pakistan nationalism. He said that “electronic media was used to destroy the political class who also fight and destroy each other on TV talk shows.” He said that both Nawaz Sharif, first, and Imran Khan, now, have come forward, pushing away the traditional elite, and while the former talked about development and progress and won mandate on that basis the latter has been talking about rooting out corruption “which is a middle class issue.”

He told the audience that Imran has become the spokesman of Pakistan’s rapidly increasing middle class and stake stakeholders have helped pursue the agenda against “political dynasties” by promoting the partisan logic and particular phenomenon that the top man counts and if the top man is clean than the scourge of corruption will go away.

Dr Adnan Qadir Khan spoke about the economic trajectory of Pakistan and gave credit to the previous governments of PPP and PML-N for negotiating well on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said that the CPEC can be a game changer but “not until there is high rate generation” and the “air of opaqueness has to go away”. He said the discussion so far is only Punjab centric and KP and Balochistan have to be taken on board too. He said that the new government will need all the capital that it has and “trust in the state” is required as well as a “new contract.”

He said: “The real test for the new government will be on delivery. The single most important question will be the strategic growth. Dr Khan said that Asad Umar is a well-intentioned man and has the capability to handle large economic affairs. He said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is likely to place tight restrictions on Pakistan during the bailout talks. He suggested that the next government should look elsewhere too for loans.