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A marriage of inconvenience

There is no doubt that the alliance between the PTI and the PML-Q is a marriage of inconvenience. Both parties have serious differences on many issues – the most prominent being the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly.

The political interests of the two parties and their desire to cling to power is the main reason for this marriage of inconvenience. It seems that these parties, despite their claims that their politics is based on principles, are also hungry for power.

The PTI claims to be different from other political parties and believes in principled politics. It also claims that it is not power-hungry, like other parties, and is fighting for the greater cause of real freedom (Haqiqi Azadi) and people’s rights. But the reality is the opposite; the party’s politics is hardly any different.

PTI leaders criticize the federal coalition government as an ‘unholy alliance’ based on personal political interests without common ideology and principles. They claim that the PDM and PPP coalition is an anti-PTI alliance whose sole purpose was to oust Imran Khan from power.

It is true that the federal coalition government comprises parties with different ideologies and programmes and that they are united against their common political opponent, Imran. But the same is also true for the alliance between the PTI and the PML-Q in Punjab.

This alliance is full of contradictions, like any other alliance in the history of Pakistan formed to gain power. It is not based on common ideology, but against a common political opponent, the PML-N. Both parties agreed on seat adjustments in the 2018 general elections. The goal was to keep the PML-N out of power.

Imran and PML-Q leader and CM Punjab Ch Parvez Elahi are not fans of each other, but they have formed a coalition government. Imran wants to dissolve the Punjab Assembly immediately to put pressure on the federal government to call early elections, but Elahi wants to spend more time in power to strengthen the PML-Q’s political position in Punjab.

The Chaudhrys of Gujrat have a long history of political association with powers that be. Elahi’s political strategy is clear; he wants to keep a close relationship with the powerful quarters without hurting his electoral alliance with the PTI.

Elahi is not in a hurry to take the vote of no-confidence. He wants to wait until the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision on this matter. He is looking for excuses to gain time. The PTI is also enjoying power in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). This uneasy relationship is a sad reflection of the state of democracy in the country. Political leaders make all kinds of compromises to gain or maintain power. On the one hand, they make compromises to serve their own interests. On the other, they claim to serve the people. This is obviously a lie. This statement seems harsh, but the following argument proves it.

Imran calls daily meetings of his top party leaders to discuss his political strategy in Punjab and how to secure the vote of confidence for the CM Punjab. Imran Khan and his senior party leaders spend hours preparing the strategy to achieve their political objectives and goals.

But not a single meeting has been called to discuss strategies to reduce the prices of wheat, flour and other food items in Punjab. How much time does the PTI leadership spend on devising a strategy to control prices? It seems they do not have the time to address the real issues of the people.

The same is true for the PML-Q. Elahi is more interested in securing his political position in different constituencies through development work instead of focusing on how to control the prices of essential items.

The people of Punjab are experiencing a tsunami of price hikes. The price of flour is going up almost daily. There is a huge difference between wholesale and retail prices of food and other essentials. This shows sellers are hoarding items, and market manipulation is going on unchecked.

The price of one piece of naan has gone up to Rs25 and roti Rs15 in Lahore. If the Punjab government fails to intervene and take action against hoarding, the prices of naan and roti are likely to rise to Rs35 and Rs25 respectively. The Nanbai Association is already demanding an increase in the price of roti. Imagine how this would affect the lives of people with salaries in the Rs15,000-30,000 per month range. How are they going to manage their budget with such high prices? They have been left on the mercy of profit-hungry hoarders, investors, middlemen and blind forces of the market.

Controlling prices is the responsibility of provincial governments. It is strange that the prices of food are going up when the prices of petrol, gas and electricity are stable. Life has become unbearable for an overwhelming majority of the population.

The PTI claims it is capable of addressing the economic problems of the Pakistani economy and can fix it. It should start from Punjab and KP where the party is in power. If the PTI is capable of fixing the national economy, it should serve the people of Punjab and KP first and control the prices.

Nobody can stop the PTI from winning elections in Punjab if it provides much-needed relief to the struggling people.

Khalid Bhatti, "A marriage of inconvenience," The News. 2023-01-09.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Political strategy , Political position , Democracy , CM Parvez Elahi , Imran Khan , Pakistan , PTI , PMLQ , LHC