July 2018, the general elections in Pakistan had brought a peaceful and pleasant transition to its political landscape. Imran Khan has emerged victorious, winning the position of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. However, he still has to play a very tough and nerve shattering test match, which will be full of challenges. Pakistan, right now is facing existential challenges. Its future is at stake and this is not merely rhetoric. Post 9/11, civilian and military rulers have presided over this unfortunate country, directly as stage managers of the United States’ (US) war theater. This resulted in bloodshed, and socio-economic unrest which has led the country towards economic chaos. 50 percent of the country’s population is already living below the poverty line, and an impending economic flood has been predicted. The state’s current economic scenario is indicative of a future similar to that of Greece, Ukraine and the Southern European nations. Newly elected rulers have entered Pakistan’s power citadel, where external as well as internal challenges await its new tenants. In my opinion, Pakistan’s current external challenges are far more serious than the internal ones. Historically, Pakistan’s internal challenges have directly been linked to its foreign policy. For example, in 1981, US President Reagan instructed his CIA Head, William J. Case that, “Gen Zia should be protected from internal challenges.” As a result, Benazir was given the cold shoulder in the West. Later on, according to the US script, in 1986, she was facilitated to enter Pakistan to challenge Gen Zia’s dictatorship. Once again, Pakistan is facing a hostile environment on the foreign policy front. What is the biggest external challenge that Pakistan faces? I believe it is ‘formulation of a pragmatic foreign policy’, which can be a vehicle for achieving Regional Peace. This will pave a path to economic prosperity for the country. Pakistan is strategically situated in South Asia, a region where both global powers: China and the US have clashing interests. Washington perceives China’s economic rise, a threat to its global supremacy. In my opinion, Pakistan’s current external challenges are far more serious than the internal ones. Historically, Pakistan’s internal challenges have directly been linked to its foreign policy China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a grand global project, a harbinger of future economic connectivity with the rest of the world. Pakistan, an immediate neighbor of China is strategically located at its Western corner. In case of any future military standoffs between, a blockade of the South China Sea by the US could bring Chinese economy to its knees. China would not be able to export to the Middle East, Africa or Europe. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC), an offshoot of the BRI is a strategic answer to this nightmare. CPEC is a swift and reliable land route for Chinese exports, better than the alternate railroad links which run through Burma or Central Asia. The US has already made plans for China’s containment with its South Asian allies, Afghanistan and India, to ensure CPEC’s failure by destabilizing Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. The US has already locked horns with Iran to check its influence in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Saudi Arabia and Iran are already fighting proxy wars in the Middle East. The US has been in Afghanistan for the last four decades. During the start of World War II, Pakistani generals were the US’ partners as well as beneficiaries of the so called Jihad in Afghanistan against the USSR. Misadventure in Afghanistan, laid the foundation for Pakistan’s wintery future. In the second phase of World War II (the so called War on Terror), Pakistan was the target of the US, India and Afghanistan. Regretfully, both the military and civilian rulers of Pakistan have treated it like an occupied territory. As a result, Pakistan is crippled by foreign debt which amounts to $ 92 billion. Its exports have dangerously shrunk to $ 18 billion, less than the annual gross sale of $32 billion of a Brazilian meat producer. On the contrary, the country’s imports amounting to $53 billion have badly disturbed the current account deficit. Whereas, on the domestic front, PTI government has to deal with a number of challenges, which are up-scaled foreign and domestic debt retirement, Civil-Military relationship, foreign policy formulation and implementation, handling political opponents and lastly reforming the highly incompetent, corrupt bureaucracy. The emerging socio-economic scenario demands a leadership which should have a world vision like Mandela, and the pragmatism of Deng Xiao Pang to sail Pakistan out of this whirlpool of challenges. Imran Khan, during his recent election campaign, sold a very ambitious socio-economic agenda to the masses. Now, as the Captain of the winning team, he has to deliver on his promises. At this crucial moment in history, every concerned citizen should play a positive role. In the next phase, a logical but pragmatic road map to confront national challenges will be shared with the valued readers. Continued. The writer is the author of Half Truth. He can be tweeted at @ferrukh_mir Published in Daily Times, September 1st 2018.