SEVERAL important developments that took place on Thursday raised hopes that the country was ultimately moving towards the much-needed stability.
As Imran Khan abruptly ended his hyped long march, the Government moved swiftly to pass the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022 to scrap the controversial amendments introduced unilaterally by the PTI Government with regard to use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and I-voting.
And as a precursor to resumption of the IMF programme, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail announced a massive hike of Rs 30 per litre in the prices of petroleum products.
Apparently, buoyed by the political gains during PTI’s flopped long march, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced on the floor of the National Assembly that only the House will decide a date for the next general election in the country.
This is a clear message to PTI in the backdrop of an ultimatum hurled by its Chairman giving the Government six days to announce a date or he would return back to Islamabad.
There are clear indications that PTI leadership and their workers are exhausted due to hectic political activities during the last over one month and they are unlikely to exert the necessary pressure for immediate polls even if IK decides to implement his threat.
On the other hand, the Government has also started moving on its legislative agenda in preparations for the general elections, triggering speculations that it might opt for early elections once amendments to election and NAB laws become an act, which would prove to be a time consuming process because of non-cooperative presidency.
However, the decision of the Government to hike prices of petroleum products significantly is an indication that the Government intends to stay for a longer duration as it has been resisting introduction of tough measures having consequences for its popularity.
In view of critical economic conditions, prudence demands the Government should get time to introduce reforms and provide relief to the masses as immediate elections would delay the corrective process further.