Transition of power in Pakistan in a peaceful way is an important development and it is a huge step towards strengthening of democracy. In the country’s 70-year history it is only second time that the buttons of power were passed on from one party to another in a democratic way. Earlier in 2013, Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League replaced Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan People Party through a public vote. Though serious questions were raised on the impartiality of elections and some sections of the opposition threatened street rebellion but, at the end of the day, it was accepted by one and all that the polling was held free and fairly and there were no complaints of rigging or misuse of authority on the polling day. It is perhaps for this fact that the opposition parties have changed the tack and instead of going for street protests, they said that they would take on the government in a democratic way and on democratic platforms like parliament and assembly only. The opposition has decided to put up their candidates for the highest positions like speakers and deputy speakers in parliaments and provincial assemblies. Imran Khan’s party TehreekInsaaf has welcomed the opposition decision. This is a great indicator of the growing maturity of Pakistani politicians. Otherwise Pakistan has a history of toppling governments before these were installed.
In 1977, the street agitation by the opposition parties under the banner of National Alliance against the alleged rigging by then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was damaging in terms of men and material. Around 300 people were killed by government forces to quell the rebellion. This culminated in military coup by then army chief Zia-ul-Haqque. Bhutto was jailed and tried for a murder case that ultimately saw him sending to gallows. It is quite encouraging and cheering that the Pakistan opposition parties including religious groups have set a great example by abandoned the idea of mass protests. That is the first serious challenge that the Prime Minister-in-waiting has overcome before it erupted.
Imran Khan has a bumpy and bouncy road ahead that would put him to test of the times. The first and the foremost challenge before him is to establish the credibility of political leadership as sincere and honest. After founder Qaid-e-Azam Jinnah and first Prime Minister Liqat Ali Khan, Pakistan is yet to produce an honest and selfless politicians. Bhutto, though acclaimed for his genius and intellect internationally, was so greedy of power that led to division of Pakistan. When rebellion started in then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), he is reported to said; Pakistan azadhogaya. Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif are two influence politicians. But they have broken all records of corruption. One of them has served 10 years in jail for corruption and the other is serving 10 years jail term for corruption.
Imran Khan’s emergence as an alternative has genesis in hate for these corrupt leaders and his personal image as honest. Since Imran Khan has never held any public office, it is crucial test for him to maintain the image of honesty. Further, Imran Khan’s party’s has borrowed several leaders from other parties like Nawaz League and People’ Party, who have corrupt images, and have the habit of luxury. It would be quite interesting to see how he controls them. But much to the advantage of Khan, there are some good and great people in his team of probable ministers, who are selfless, efficient and experts in their fields. Though it is still a matter of conjecture as neither Khan has taken oath nor has he announced his team of ministers, but some names like, Assad Umar, ShirinMazari, Shah MahmoodQuriahi, PavaizKhatak and FawadChoudhary are regarded as men with experience and impeccable integrity. Imran Khan is man of credibility and he has a team of credible leaders available, now time only will show how far he comes up to the expectations of the common people.