The bigger the mandate, the greater is the responsibility to exercise it wisely and understand its limitations. Elections 2013 saw the return of PML-N after being out of the power arena since 1999. With a simple majority, the party is set to form government at the centre. However, in spite of this strength, PML-N will have to look towards cooperation; in Sindh from PPP and MQM, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from JI and the newly emerged PTI, in Balochistan from National Party, JUI-F, PML-Q, both the BNP wings and ANP. It has to accommodate partners - different in different provinces to make the wheels of administration move forward smoothly.Bigger margins of victory are often said to give the newly-elected government or elected official an implicit mandate to put into effect certain policies. However, in Pakistan, with clear-cut divisions in terms of provincial partners, this general philosophy may not be as easy or simple to apply.Clearly defined policies need to be chalked out - cutting through the flak.Challenges awaiting the incoming government are of a multidimensional nature. It will not have the liberty to enjoy a honeymoon period. Energy crisis besieging the country has had a spiralling effect on industries, production, employment and everyday lives of the common man. A rational analysis of the issue, developing a workable strategy based on short and long term goals is the need of the day. The results may not appear overnight, however, the government must be seen to be implementing logical policies and generally moving in the right direction.The people of Pakistan desire its representatives to be leading more austere lifestyles; slash in government overheads and culture of tax payment not only by their leaders, but also by the affluent; and fall in the corruption graph with the desire to build the nation into a vibrant, positive member of the comity of nations.Dealing with terrorism within its borders will be one of the biggest challenges. Tabling talks with the Taliban is a tricky business. The death of Waliur Rahman, second-in-command of TIP by a drone strike, has placed this option at a risk for the time being; even before the parliamentarians could take oath. (The US declared a bounty of $5 million on Rahman for his involvement in the killing of CIA officials in Afghanistan in 2007.) With a withdrawal of peace talk offer, TIP also vows to have revenge, both from the government and the military.The issue of talks with Taliban can be viewed from different dimensions: First, with the financial and strategic support base of Taliban intact, what possible reason would it have for taking the talks seriously? Second, any talk will imply give and take. TIP wants to impose its version of sharia law. Has the government devised a policy should TIP demand a physical area within Pakistan to exercise its proposed laws? Third, how does the military and government propose to deal with TIP, when it swings from talks to militancy and back again? Fourth, does the military and government propose to treat all factions within as one or through splinter strategy? Says Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt: “The Haqqani Network, which focuses its attacks on Afghanistan, is considered a strategic asset to Pakistan, according to American and Pakistani officials, in contrast to the militant network run by Baitullah Mehsud, which has the goal of overthrowing Pakistan’s government” (NYT published on March 25, 2009).Linked with talks to Taliban is how the government positions itself on the question of drone attacks. According to data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Potal (SATP), the number of fatalities has increased with time in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. PTI’s ability to deliver on its promise to curtail terrorism is directly linked with the terrorism policy formed by the government and stance on drone attacks. The cascading effect of terrorism is lack of security, making foreign investors shy away. Development programmes and putting the country back on track are the first casualties. Karachi must be brought back from being a war zone to the peaceful, bustling, economically developed city it once was. Balochistan’s issues must be addressed; no longer can they be allowed to slide. However, following an appeasement policy, instead of implementing genuine plans for development of the province and its people, will not wash. The first step; nomination by PML-N of Dr Abdul Malik, Head of National Party, as Chief Minister of Balochistan reflects wisdom and a step in the right direction.The PML-N has the responsibility of a heavy mandate on its shoulders. Lack of consensus on policy formation by provincial partners will be unsustainable. All must be on the same page in terms of strategic issues that affect the health of the country. Frictions, schisms, feeling of alienation can only lead to disintegrated approach to issues. Without harmony, efforts to move forward as a nation may stall. Mandate both empowers and limits. The PML-N needs to develop a comfortable nexus, both with the military and the judiciary. Though, the President of Pakistan no longer has the constitutional powers to send the government packing, the people of Pakistan are tired, disgusted and have lost patience with self-serving politicians. Media today, in Pakistan, is a powerful organ, unlike the media of yesteryears. The government, to stay in power, has no choice but to deliver!

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled “A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan”.