Elections, no elections

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AS Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has intensified its demand for holding an early general election, the ruling coalition has, once again, categorically rejected the demand reiterating that the general election will be held on time and the coalition government will complete its tenure.

The latest announcement was made by the leaders of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) after their meeting on Thursday which discussed in details the ongoing political crisis, particularly in the backdrop of the verdict of the Supreme Court that ended the Government of PML(N) in Punjab and returned the province back to Pervaiz Elahi led PTI-PML(Q) parties.

No doubt, the coalition government has received a serious setback due to the controversial verdict of the apex court which was aptly and unanimously rejected by the parties forming the coalition.

There were also rumours that the change in Punjab is an early indication of things moving towards announcement of snap polls.

Some media reports also suggested that the Establishment was weary of the continued political confrontation and tension that is negatively affecting the economy of the country which is already in a bad shape due to inexperienced handling by the PTI during its four year rule.

These reports claimed that the Establishment plans a ‘soft intervention’ aimed at bringing the two warring sides on the negotiating table for talks on possibility of early elections.

It is also widely believed that despite the introduction of tough and unpopular measures that caused a humiliating defeat to PML(N) in the recently-held by-elections in Punjab, there are so far no indications of the economy improving.

Rupee continues to shed more and more value on a daily basis because of uncertainty caused by political instability and hiccups in the early release of money by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

This viewpoint has officially been corroborated by the Finance Ministry which warned on Thursday that the prevailing political unrest was causing governance problems and intensifying the market uncertainty already caused by low foreign exchange reserves and external pressures.

It has also been acknowledged that the economic outlook was uncertain as ongoing political crisis is increasing economic uncertainty which is causing the rupee to depreciate and has an impact on the cost of production.

In this scenario, the question arises whether or not the general election would resolve the economic challenges of the country.

In the given situation, there are two possible scenarios for post-election setup – either a PTI Government (as the party expects to win the elections on the basis of its recent gains in by-elections in Punjab and popularity of its narrative with the people) or a coalition government led by PML(N) and PPP if a split mandate is given by the electorate.

We have had the PTI government for four years but its track record of handling the economy is not encouraging and it is generally believed that the existing messy situation owes its existence to the novice economic policies of the PTI Government.

It is, therefore, a million dollar question what PTI has in store to do to prove otherwise if the party wins the general election held at an early date as per its demands.

As for the coalition, the PML(N) has assigned the task of economy to a competent team of economic managers but it is unable to meet expectations of the people mainly because of political constraints thrown upon by different players.

The immediate elections are, therefore, unlikely to help stabilize the situation, allowing the government to focus on policies and programmes for improvement of economic conditions of the country.

There are, instead, apprehensions that the loser would not accept the defeat and allegations of rigging and manipulation of results could re-surface to trigger a fresh political crisis.

As the country cannot afford continuation of the prevailing negative political environment, it is imperative that the political parties demonstrate maturity and sort out differences through talks.

Otherwise, the policy of tit-for-tat is going to inflict unimaginable harm on the country as is evident from the change in Punjab which prompted Parliament to think about moves aimed at safeguarding its sovereignty and supremacy and acceptance of resignations of 11 PTI Members of the National Assembly.

The acceptance of the resignation is a smart move by the coalition government as the decision would lead to further depletion of the strength of the party and as a result it would not be able to think about a comeback at the Federal level in the immediate context.

It is encouraging that the coalition government is led by a Prime Minister, who is known for his reconciliatory policy and approach and hopefully he would succeed in promoting national solidarity at this critical juncture of our history.

 

 

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