A New Government in Islamabad
Nawaz Sharif, the leader of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), was elected as the new prime minister of Pakistan and his cabinet ministers were sworn in on Friday in Islamabad. The general election in Pakistan, held last month, marked the first democratic transfer of powers into a new elected government though it was also the bloodiest election in history of Pakistan. Despite a dramatic victory, Pakistan’s newly elected prime minister faces multiple challenges primarily challenges emanating from the fainting economy and the teetering security. Pakistan’s declining economy and the crisis of energy was a great factor in defeat of the Pakistan People’s Party in the general election.
Sharif assumes power as the insurgency is raging across the country and the militant groups have turned parts of the country into war zones. Sharif has been considered as sympathetic to the Taliban as he maintained some sort of relations with the extremist groups in the past. Also during his election campaign, Sharif was favoring negotiations with the militant groups that have been in a full-scale war with the army during last years. He has promised to end the conflict of Taliban in the country through negotiations with the extremist groups, not through war. Many believe that this stance helped him launch his election campaign without major attacks from the Taliban while other major secular parties were routinely targeted by the militants.
Sharif’s stance over the Taliban insurgency in the country and favoring negotiations has had both its critics and supporters. Many hope that the new government would be able to reach some sorts of deals with the Taliban and bring peace in the country, since Sahrif has maintained influence among the extremist groups. But many others doubt whether the new government could do anything to end the conflict as they believe Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan will not abide by peaceful settlement of the conflict. Despite all these, the fact remains that Sharif’s government would inevitably be compelled to agree to the army’s view for war against the Taliban and its affiliate groups in the country. This is because Pakistan’s army have the ultimate say in decision-making about security polices and specifically about dealing with the conflict.
The militans-driven insurgency in Pakistan is closely intertwined with the conflict in Afghanistan. Both are fed from the regional terrorism that has been nurtured in Pakistan. Pakistan has a key role in ending the conflict in Afghanistan but so far Islamabad has not been cooperating with the war on terrorism in Afghanistan. Instead, Pakistan has been a supporter of the militant groups fighting in Afghanistan and the army’s intelligence brach – the ISI – maintained relations with the leaders of Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network hiding in Pakistan. There is some slim chance of shift in Islamabad’s policy towards the insurgent groups in Afghanistan and their safe havens in Pakistan. In general, Islamabad’s military leaders and the newly elected leaders have come to the conclusion that the country will be able to end the militancy in the country only when they cooperate for a peace deal in Afghanistan.