As democracy passes through a transitional period in Pakistan, it faces many challenges; the stakes are high and so are the expectations. Even though the next general elections are due in mid 2018 the political landscape is such that the stakeholders already seem to be campaigning for one.
The year 2013 marked a significant milestone in the history of Pakistan as for the first time democratically elected government of Pakistan Peoples Party transferred the power to the newly elected government of Pakistan Muslim League. Another smooth transition following the elections in 2018 is of paramount importance as such a development would set the tone for sustainable democracy in the country.
However, the current government’s major challenge would be the completion of its term till 2018 as it is embroiled in crisis of Panama leaks which invariably links the Prime Minister & his family for holding offshore accounts through embezzlement of public funds. This crisis if not mitigated through formation of a Supreme Court Commission on the terms of reference (which are agreed upon both by the government & the opposition) will very soon force the opposition parties to unite and will compel them to come on roads.
The political sit-ins organized by PTI and PAT nearly two years back were nerve wrecking for the government and certainly hampered economic development. The utmost priority of the Nawaz government will be to complete development projects by 2018 particularly those pertaining to energy sector and road networks. This would be important as even many political pundits have predicted that if the government completes its term and is able to deliver on the development front it has good chances of being elected again.
A second term victory in Pakistan is unprecedented and incase of such a scenario will be a first in Pakistan’s history. The national assembly of Pakistan comprises of 342 seats out of which 148 are for Punjab, 61 for Sindh, 35 for KPK and 14 for Baluchistan. Thus, Punjab becomes the battleground for elections in Pakistan because if a party is able to sweep Punjab chances are that it will form the next government. This is precisely why political turmoil is always high in the province.
Lastly, the 2018 elections will also perhaps mark a change of leadership for the two major parties i.e. PPP and PML-N. Bilawal Bhutto has now actively assumed command of PPP and there is little doubt that he will be the front runner for the Prime Minister’s slot. On the other hand there have been speculations that the face of PML-N leadership will also be changing soon owing to PM Nawaz Sharif’s health condition. Likely successors that are being touted are his daughter Maryam and his nephew Hamza. However, whether or not the new leadership will be able to win the support of public is one question only time can answer!