CONTRARY to general impression that results of the by-elections in 20 constituencies of the Punjab Assembly would force the stakeholders to go for early general elections, the two main component parties of the ruling coalition — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — on Monday insisted the National Assembly will complete its term until mid-next year, and general election be held after the government carries out electoral reforms and fixes the economy.
In a television interview, former Prime Minister and a stalwart of PML(N) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi categorically stated that the incumbent government would complete its term and ‘remain in power till 17 August 2023’ and similar hints were dropped by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah after a meeting of the party in Lahore.
Meanwhile, the main coalition partner of the PML-N, the PPP, insisted on completion of the National Assembly’s term for “crucial electoral reforms and constitutional amendments”, vowing “to stand with the allies in these testing times”.
The views of PPP and JUI(F) on the issue of early elections are quite known as completion of the term suits their political interests but PML(N) has defied expectations of some circles and analysts that the party is left with no option but to go for immediate elections.
This is not surprising as in case of early elections, the party is highly likely to suffer because of the hard decisions its leadership has taken in pursuance of its declared objective of saving the state and not the politics.
The party took bitter and unpopular decisions and it is quite understandable that it should stay in power for more time to compensate people for these measures.
It is believed that the difficult phase that the country witnessed was almost over and it is time for the Government to implement its welfare and relief-oriented agenda in the remaining term to restore falling popularity of the party.
In fact, the country needs to single-mindedly pursue the right kind of economic and financial policies to stabilize the situation, which is not possible in case an announcement is made for early elections.
This is because there would be disruption in implementation of the policies and programmes and this could jeopardize the restoration of the suspended IMF programme.
Analysts also believe that the IMF and other multilateral and bilateral donors would not like to talk to the interim government and therefore continuation of the set-up and policies is pre-requisite for smooth running of the economy.
Political instability is already playing havoc with the economic interests of the country as the rupee shed its value further on Monday as it traded at 215 for a dollar in the inter-bank market.
Stock exchange is also witnessing volatility and investors are shy of making any decision pending firm indications about the future of the government.
It is also the declared objective of the coalition partners to carry out electoral and constitutional reforms before completion of their term next year.
There is no doubt that both the coalition partners and the opposition PTI are poles apart on the issue of fresh elections but they have to sort out their differences for the sake of the economy and future of the country.
Buoyed by the thumping victory of his party in the by-elections, Chairman PTI Imran Khan not only demanded, once again, early elections that apparently suit his party but also called for resignation of the Chief Election Commissioner despite the fact that the CEC and his Commission performed their responsibilities superbly in the by-polls earning appreciation of the entire nation.
The spokesperson of the Commission has promptly rejected allegations levelled by the PTI leader adding that the Commission would continue performing its duties in accordance with the Constitution and the law.
In fact, results of the by-elections is an undeniable proof that the allegations of rigging have no substance and there is weight in the argument offered by some PML(N) leaders that accusations against the Election Commission are aimed at pressurizing it on the issue of foreign funding of PTI, a case awaiting decision by the ECP.
As for the demand of the early elections, it is rightly pointed out by some circles that why the PTI is not dissolving KP Assembly and why it is so eager to have its own government in Punjab if it really wants snap polls.
There is no substitute to talks and the two sides should engage in a meaningful dialogue to sort out differences.