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Can Imran Khan bring a change to Pakistan ?

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With the star cricketer Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) winning the Pakistan National Election 2018, public expectations have risen to an all-time high. A lot is expected from him, since he has more star power and mystique than any recent Pakistani leader has ever been and perhaps a better chance to change the country future, despite the fact that the election was widely considered tainted.

What are the factors which lead to success for Imran Khan?

Pakistan has spent nearly half its life after under military rule. There has been no accountability for any progress. Proxy rule in the form of elected leaders has kept the military free from being held accountable for basics things like employment, infrastructure, public health, water etc. But over a period of time, public opinion began to change. Ever since the last coup, public mood turned against direct military rule and that acted as a deterrent. A good and strong elected government keeps army’s powers under control and with the democracy it improves credibility at international forums, so the people have voted for a new star.

Challenges before Imran Khan

Maintain political stability

Imran Khan has to face a lot of problems for the country known for political instability. Since political stability forms the basis for functioning of the government machinery, as it will enable the new government to focus on the economy, foreign investment, reforms, internal security and foreign relations. Because, instability will have a negative impact on foreign-funded economic projects, security situation, and could prove to be a great stumbling block for foreign investment.

Relationship with India

Imran Khan has to bring relations with its arch-rival India to solve its border issues and Kashmir crisis. India suspended bilateral dialogue with Pakistan, ever since an attack on Indian air base in Pathankot in April 2016. India has squarely blamed on Pakistan-based militant groups. Pakistan had denied any involvement and offered cooperation in the investigation.

Strengthening ties with US

The new leader also faces another complex problem dealing with the United States, which are currently at the lowest point in the history of foreign relations. The United States led a campaign recently to place Pakistan on the grey list (Financial Action Task Force (FATF)). The super power has accused the country for failing to curb anti-terror financing. The placement could hurt Pakistan's economy as well as its international standing. Besides, the United States has also suspended military aid to Pakistan. US President Donald Trump in his new year tweet, accused Islamabad of being a "liar" and alleged that "They (Pakistan) give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help." Pakistan had angrily reacted to the remarks.

Election promises

Imran Khan pledged to create 10 million new jobs and promised to build five million homes for the poor. It is an important promise since youth constitute nearly 64 per cent of the country's population and have offered the bulk of Imran Khan's electoral support. Besides, Khan has promised that he has the support wealthy overseas Pakistanis could bring in billions of dollars in investment and expertise to rebuild and development the country. Furthermore, he claimed that he will improve poor education and health facilities. Now as the country's elected leader, he will now be expected to deliver on all these promises.

Increase tax and revenue

Pakistan's culture of tax evasion is huge. It is said that around 1% of the population, pay income tax. Imran must plug several loopholes, which have helped the rural rich and corporate big wigs to evade huge tax. Most of the government’s tax revenue comes from indirect taxes on the various products and service, and there’s a huge amount of untaxed money in real estate and investments. Imran has promised to reform the Federal Bureau of Revenue in his first six months in office. This is a very tough task.

Economic problems

Though Pakistan GDP growth rate is 5.8 percent which is the fastest in the last decade, the Pakistan is slowly falling into debt trap. Pakistan's current account deficit widened 43% to $18 billion in the fiscal year ending June 2018, but the dangerous fiscal deficit has zoomed to 68%. Pakistan's central bank devalued the rupee four times since December, weakening it by more than 25%, amid efforts to avert a balance of payments crisis in the country. Its foreign reserves are falling and plunged to just over $9 billion last week from $16.4 billion (May 2017). All these issues will figure during the next round of financial negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. The IMF could insist on structural reforms. It could also force the country’s financial experts to take steps to cut spending in order to reduce the burden of fiscal deficit, which could pose further problem on Imran Khan.

Strong opposition

Despite winning the election Imran will feel the pressures from a strong and sometimes even combined Opposition in the national assembly. It could be more, if he forms a government in Punjab, he would have to be careful with issue and handle it tactfully. The Pakistan Peoples Party has said it will sit in the Opposition in the national assembly. Since PML-Nawaz leader Shahbaz Sharif has sought time to decide, but many senior party leaders favoured this option. Reviving the process of pushing the reforms while working with a strong Opposition in a parliament after a bitterly fought election can be daunting task for the new leader.

Conclusion

To be a great leader, one needs to have good strategies, be knowledgeable and able to predict the future.” The world is changing, Asia is changing, and Pakistan for sure need to change otherwise it will fall behind. People of Pakistan need a change and expect to be a growing nation, so they have voted for Imran Khan since they have felt that he will be a better choice than that of Nawaz Sharif and Zardari. They believe that Imran Khan, the cricket star and top celebrity could use his fame and charisma to improve the growth of the country and realign the country’s troubled relations with the West.

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