In the midst of all the excitement from Pakistan’s elections and the commentary emerging from it, it might be useful to look at the main issues that it raised. Of course, the very fact that the elections were held-not a regular feature in Pakistan-was important by itself. But its significance was lessened by the charge from important segments of the country’s opposition, which questioned its very legitimacy. It was alleged that the military played a crucial, if not a determining role, to pave the way for the electoral victory of the Imran Khan-led Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).How and why it all happened has also been spelled out in the reports that have been circulating. It has been suggested that the then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif had clashed with the army brass on a number of occasions, over a string of issues. This behaviour displeased the military and its intelligence agencies, who became disillusioned with the civilian government as a result. One solution would have been to stage a military coup but it would have been seen as a naked power grab, which, considering Pakistan’s post-independence history, had a sinister aura about it. As it happened, Nawaz Sharif and his cronies were known to be corrupt and this notion was further reinforced by the release of the Panama Papers. Nawaz Sharif certainly had a lot to answer about these and other charges of corruption, meriting some due punishment under the country’s legal system. But his conviction and subsequent imprisonment, just around the time of the elections, tended to create suspicion that something wasn’t quite right, and that the Supreme Court might have been pressured by the military to clear the path for Imran Khan’s ascension to the prime minister’s office. If true, it doesn’t bode well for the country’s normal political processes.Whatever might be the truth, Imran Khan, when he takes over as the nation’s prime minister, will have a lot to prove, having made all sorts of promises during his election campaign. Having been the very successful World Cup winning captain of the country’s cricket team, he has inculcated an image that he can repeat this success on the national level as well. But governing a country like Pakistan, or any other country for that matter, is not like captaining a cricket team. Khan has virtually no political experience of governance. One might say that could be a plus, but that also leads to a simplistic approach to complex underlying problems within Pakistan. For instance, Khan sees Pakistan’s many problems as arising from a crisis in governance. He is reported to have said that, “In Pakistan, the main problem is not extremism. We are a governance failure. And in any third world country, when governance collapses, mafias appear.” Imran Khan has inculcated an image that he can repeat his success on the national level again. But governing a country like Pakistan, or any other country for that matter, is not like captaining a cricket teamHe is not entirely wrong to highlight the crisis in governance and the country’s rampant corruption, enriching the ruling dynasties and impoverishing the people. But there is much more to it than just that. For instance, extremism, as Khan puts it, is not just a product of a lack of governance. It is deeply rooted in conflicting views of where and how to take Pakistan forward. This, in a sense, is at the root of the extremism issue prevalent in the country.After the creation of Pakistan, its founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had a liberal, progressive and, even, secular vision for his country. He had said, “You may belong to any religion, caste or creed-that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” But it didn’t pan out like that. And it was due to two main reasons. First, there was the military coup in 1958, led by General Mohammad Ayub Khan, which reversed the evolution of civilian political order not long after Pakistan’s creation. From there on, the military came to play a larger role in Pakistan’s politics.And this was played out again, even more dramatically, when General Zia ul-Haq staged a coup in the seventies and set in process the ‘judicial’ killing of the country’s elected Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. And to create a layer of legitimacy around his rule, Zia very deliberately encouraged and sanctified the role of religion in the country’s governance, which eventually led to the religious militancy and extremism that continues to plague the country today.Even though overtly religious parties in Pakistan have never performed that well, the militancy and extremism it has espoused, and the wide array of extremist outfits it has spawned, has been the bane of Pakistani politics. And combine it with the role that military plays in the country’s politics, directly or behind the scenes, it is an explosive mix. And this is what Imran Khan, as the country’s new Prime Minister, will have to contend with.The writer is a senior journalist and academic based in Sydney, AustraliaPublished in Daily Times, August 12th 2018.