Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, in his maiden speech to the parliament on Thursday, listed some major challenges his new government faces and pledged to find out solution.
Sharif particularly listed terrorism, lawlessness, power shortage, economic recession, rampant corruption, bad image of the country, unemployment and price hike as the daunting challenges.
The govt is now busy to explore ways how to deal with the worst energy crisis as the power outage has badly affected the country’s economy, business activities and normal life.
The people showed their anger to oust the Pakistan People’s Party government through vote as the former ruling party and its allies miserably to solve the power crisis.
During the campaign, Sharif, a businessman himself, had promised the people that he would focus his attention as prime minister on solving the energy crisis.
Another major challenge for the new government is the surge of terrorism and violent extremism that have already claimed the lives of 50,000 people since 2002, according to official data.
The Taliban, the main insurgent group in the country, had offered to join a peace dialogue with the new government but withdrew its offer last week after a U.S. drone attack killed Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the Taliban deputy chief, in North Waziristan tribal region.
The Taliban alleged that the United States is conducting the aerial attacks with the help of Pakistan and vowed to revenge the killing of Mehsud.
Security analysts here said that Sharif is in the best position to pursue peace negotiations with the Taliban. In fact, days after Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party emerged as the biggest winner in the May 11 elections, he had stated that he will take the Taliban dialogue offer seriously.
However, the issue is complicated as it is widely believed that the powerful army is not amenable to any talks with the Taliban unless they recognize the country’s constitution and to lay down their arms.
It will be now be a test for Sharif on how he would deal with the situation since he could not discount the opinion of the Pakistani Army, a powerful force in Pakistan society.
In his address, Sharif also mentioned corruption as one of the major problems of Pakistan and declared in the parliament which his government will have to eradicate. Pakistan’s ranking on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had gone from being the 42nd most corrupt country in 2011 to 33rd in 2012, according to the Berlin-based Transparency International.
The group’s in-charge in Pakistan, Adil Jilani said that corruption was on the way up in Pakistan because of a total lack of accountability. He said there was no mechanism to enforce accountability. He referred to the statement from the country’s chairman of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) who said that daily corruption in Pakistan could amount to as high as 7 billion rupees.
Rampant corruption in government was also believed to be another reason for the defeat of the then ruling coalition.
In his speech, Sharif also announced a comprehensive national plan of action to promote agricultural, economic and trade activities to put the economy of the country on a strong footing.
Pakistan’s economy suffered a lot due to the war on terror and official figures suggest about 70 billion U.S. dollars in losses since Pakistan joined the US-led war in late 2001.
The new government will present new budget in the coming few days that will be the first and a test case what measures will be adopted to revive the country’s ailing economy.
Former Finance Minister and Sharif’s party leader, Sartaj Aziz, has said that the new government will focus on economic revival that will help the country increase its exports and reduce expenditures.
Aziz, who has served as finance and foreign minister in the previous PML-N governments, sees economic revival as a means to strengthen Pakistan internally and pave the way for better conduct globally.
Pakistan also faces a tough task in dealing with some key foreign affairs issues including normalizing relationship with the United States, India and Afghanistan.
The controversial U.S. drone strikes in the country’s tribal regions despite Pakistan’s opposition are the main sources of tensions between Washington and Islamabad.
Realizing sensitivity of the issue, Sharif has called for an end to the drone attacks in his maiden speech in the parliament. But the U.S. has ruled out any change in the CIA-controlled mission.
Relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan is currently tense over cross-border attacks and Kabul’s claim that Pakistani forces have put up checkpoints on the Afghan side of the border.
President Karzai has telephoned Sharif on Thursday and invited him to visit Afghanistan. Pakistan has a vital role to play in the fragile Afghan peace process.
The two countries will also have to take urgent steps for a political solution to the Afghan problem before the 2014 NATO withdrawal to avoid instability in the war-torn Afghanistan.