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Uncertain Fate

Mr. Nawaz Sharif swept the recently concluded Pakistan Elections with an absolute majority; without the need of any messy coalitions and bickering alliance partners. The incumbent Pakistan People's Party (PPP) was reduced to a distant second with a miserable 31 seats, 93 less than last time.

The electoral rout of the PPP was widely expected. Without a leader or rather without a Bhutto (Bilawal doesn't count; he was hardly in Pakistan itself for most most of the electoral campaign and Zardari as a President can't support any particular political party) to lead them, the party was surely heading nowhere from the start. Add to this the fact that the level of governance delivered by this government was close to zero.

Now that Mr. Nawaz Sharif has been elected with such a massive mandate, expectations are sky-high. The common man on the streets looks forward to a stable and effective government which strives to solve their problems. To name but a few - a horrible supply of electricity, poor healthcare facilities and high level of corruption.

On the international front, it's immediate neighbors, Afghanistan and India expects a renewed and more friendly approach to bilateral ties. Both these countries also happens to be ravaged by terrorist groups and it is widely believed that the terrorist groups are based in Pakistan and receive continued assistance from the Government there. The rest of the world expects Pakistan to continue support to the War on Terror.

Challenges are many even on the economic front. Having faced decades of political instability and religious extremism besides a checkered relationship with it's immediate neighbors, the Pakistani economy is close to collapsing. Investor confidence is almost nil and the treasury drained. The Pakistani economy is highly reliant on American aid to sustain itself and tackling this should be high on the to-do checklist of the new Government.

Besides this, Nawaz Sharif has to maintain the precarious religious situation in Pakistan besides dismantling terror groups across it's soil. Here the situation turns tricky. It is no secret that extremist right-wing religious groups have been supporting Nawaz Sharif. Even the Pakistani Taliban has avoided attacking him during the campaign like they did with the PPP. If he doesn't tread cautiously, the situation could turn progressively worse and push Pakistan into a state of absolute anarchy and lawlessness.

 But the most important challenge is to keep the Pakistani military down. During his last stint as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif was overthrown by the then Military General, Pervez Musharaf.  This time round, Mr. Sharif must take care that he ensure that he doesn't take steps which can antagonize the military and provoke it like he did last time.

Most political analysts and close aides are of the opinion that Mr Sharif during his time in exile has matured into a more astute and able politician. For the sake of Pakistan and the world, let us hope so too. For if this is not true, then the consequences for Pakistan and the world come could be enormous.

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