Political instability has deepened in the country after PTI convincingly won the recent by-polls in Punjab.
It is a major setback for Premier Shehbaz Sharif, whose son Hamza Shehbaz became Chief Minister of the province two months ago after defeating the PTI candidate.
With landslide victory in the recent Punjab by-elections, Imran Khan is pushing Shehbaz Sharif for early general election.
Will his opponents in the Establishment concede his demand? After judicial intervention, the PTI has already formed government in Punjab.
This is just weeks after PTI lawmakers in the province abandoned the PTI government to join the PML-N led coalition government.
Imran has won the Punjab by-elections, but it doesn’t mean he will win the next general election as well.
It is also possible that his opponents in the civil and military leadership will not concede his demand for immediate general elections.
He appears to be waging a war on the system to have his way, but the system is not that easy to be surmounted
The PTI’s unexpected win has complicated the woes of the ruling PML-N and PPP coalition, which is finding it hard to counter the political challenge posed by Imran Khan, who has been attacking the coalition government and the military leadership for allegedly partnering with the U.S. to remove him from power via a controversial no-confidence motion in Parliament.
The PML-N and PPP, then in opposition, were worried about General Faiz’s appointment as the next army chief and therefore decided to oust Imran Khan through a vote of no-confidence without paying heed to the potential fallout.
That decision to hold a no-confidence vote has backfired hugely for the Sharif-led coalition government and the current leadership of the military establishment.
Not only has Imran Khan won back Punjab against all odds, but also he has been able to sell his baseless anti-establishment narrative in the province to an extent that the institution seems unable to do anything to counter him.
Imran Khan’s barrage of attacks against the military was so swift that it couldn’t intervene to help the PML-N in the Punjab by-polls over fears of a public backlash.
The coalition government was hopeful of the military’s support in the Punjab by-elections but that didn’t come.
The party was bitterly divided over the issue of allowing PTI turncoats into the party and offering them tickets to contest the by-elections.
Others believe that PML-N’s decision to give up the post-2018 narrative of resisting the Establishment to oust Imran Khan cost the party dearly.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has not yet announced long-delayed judgment on PTI foreign funding case.
For long has Imran Khan been given a free pass despite his repeated and shameless attacks on state institutions.
Impunity given to him has hurt the country. It remains unclear whether the military made the decision not to intervene the by-polls or was simply too shell-shocked by Imran Khan’s attacks to pull it off at this stage.
The deep support that Imran Khan enjoys among the military’s rank-and-file could have also deterred the military leadership from intervening in the PML-N’s favor.
Dramatically, post by-polls now Imran Khan has re-emerged as the ultimate winner and appears to be on his way to become Pakistan’s premier again in any case.
Post by-polls win, the momentum seems to be with the PTI. Imran Khan can now expect to come back to power without the support of the military establishment to appoint the next army chief – an issue that started the whole vote of no-confidence saga.
The ruling coalition has announced that it will complete its term in office as per the Constitution.
The current coalition will remain in power till August 17, 2023. The PML-N has realized that its defensive approach to dealing with Imran Khan has proved costly and wants to change its strategy.
In the prevailing political mess, the country may go bankrupt. Pakistan’s politics has entered the ugliest and one of the most discredited phase having far-reaching implications.
Economic sentiment in the country is going downhill since Imran’s ouster from power, and with the Shehbaz government unable to bring political stability.
The latest political developments indicate that things are going to get more ugly in the country.
Shehbaz Sharif ‘s coalition government is likely to cling to power in an effort to put Imran Khan under pressure, while the latter should be expected to raise costs to a level that elections appear the only solution to all stakeholders.
Nawaz Sharif has missed the opportunity. The PML-N has decided to go on offensive against Imran Khan.
I don’t think PMLN and PPP afford their anti-establishment narrative of the past at this stage.
Imran Khan has stopped targeting establishment because he has met top establishment personal.
To once again enjoy favor, Imran Khan is struggling to cool down the annoyed establishment before it is too late.
Imran Khan’s software is updated if given government again Imran will prove himself more humble and submissive to the powerful establishment.
—The writer is editor, book ambassador political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.