After the vote against former Prime Minister Imran Khan, the vote for PM Shehbaz in the National Assembly looked to be a given. With 174 votes for him and none against, Shehbaz Sharif, as the 23rd Prime Minister of the country, invited allied parties to take the seats next to him, which was a positive indication of what things will look like going forward. But notable in its absence of course, was PTI, which announced resignations shortly before the vote was set to take place. The scenes in the house were perhaps a good testament of the true situation of politics today, where allied parties want to work through the parliamentary process, while the former government wants to work alone, or not at all.

The new Prime Minister’s first speech was a detailed explanation of how the new government would approach the economic and foreign policy issues we are currently facing. On the economy, the Prime Minister spoke about everything from increasing salaries through a government order, to relying on the use of LNG as a means to reduce power generation costs. On foreign policy, naming allied countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and even the US and India indicates that the government will look to repair the wounds from the recent foreign policy fiasco and cement old partnerships through working with all partners.

Importantly, the Prime Minister announced an in-camera parliamentary security committee meeting, which would discuss the contents of the much-touted ‘foreign interference letter’ with both leadership of the armed forces and the ambassador that wrote the letter present as well. This is needed to establish the truth; that the wire sent to the former Prime Minister was not an indication of foreign interference but only something we already knew; that the Biden administration and the Imran Khan government did not have much to talk about amongst one another.

The length of the tenure that this government is planning to spend in office is unclear. But we have heard that the completion of electoral reforms is the main objective. This will likely entail settlement on the question of overseas Pakistanis and EVMs, but there are a whole host of other issues that need to be addressed before the general count as well.

While the resignations of PTI’s members in parliament are yet to be formally received by the house, the fate of over 150 seats in the house also has to be determined now. A by-election of this level is a costly and time-consuming exercise, but the lack of any opposition in parliament is hardly a culture to be endorsed. Tough times lie ahead for both Pakistan and this new government.