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Ending political instability

With a seesaw between the PTI and the government on provincial assembly elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, President Alvi has fired a salvo by announcing the elections of the two provinces on April 9, creating a new round of constitutional crisis at a time when increasing political polarization, economic meltdown and rising insurgency across the country continue unabated.

These constitutional/legal matters will soon be knocking on the doors of the Supreme Court. Will an amicable solution be the answer, or will weaponized troll brigades end up influencing matters?

The PTI led by Imran Khan has for the last 10 months been agitating and pressurizing the coalition government, the security establishment, and the judiciary to hold early elections in the country – declaring them as an elixir to all ills. According to them, this will bring political stability and ensure economic revival. Will it?

Imran and his supporters have all of a sudden recognized ‘political stability’ and are wearing anti-establishment medals on their sleeves. Lest we forget, it was Imran and his backers who were instrumental in the launching of Project Imran Khan, which was supported, groomed, financed and catapulted to power. How cloth was cut from different parties and regions to stitch the PTI suit starting in the 2013 elections and ending in the 2018 elections is well documented. The European Union Election Observers final report (https://www.eods.eu/library/final_report_pakistan_2018_english.pdf) released on October 1, 2018 gives ample evidence of how the 2018 elections were stolen. So much for the hue and cry for holding free elections!

Imran Khan, during his 1331 days in power, did everything to create an authoritarian rule by paralyzing parliament, jailing opposition and gagging the media. Despite a call by Maulana Fazlur Rehman to boycott parliament or resign en masse from parliament soon after the July 2018 elections, the main opposition leaders, Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, wanted to work with Imran Khan. It was Imran’s Bonapartist blunders that created the political instability during his government.

When other stakeholders in power realized that his vindictive actions coupled with governance failures, rising corruption, economic mis-management and foreign policy blunders were costing the country heavy and hurting them as well, they tried to advise him against his misadventures but instead he went a step further by conjuring up plans to make changes in important institutional appointments to give longevity to his personal rule. That is where the real conflict started. His anger has never been aimed at creating a constitutional democratic order or having a pluralistic parliamentary rule with due role for the opposition, independent judiciary, and free media but for the creation of personal dictatorship with him as a ‘constitutional monarch’.

The PTI leadership, Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi and their media gladiators have these days also become the biggest champions of the sanctity of the constitution and keep quoting articles 105, 224 etc – as if we have forgotten how on April, 3 last year, their then law minister Fawad Chaudhry, Speaker Asad Qaiser and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri bulldozed the opposition’s vote of no-confidence motion, submitted under Article 95 of the constitution, and how Imran Khan as PM advised President Arif Alvi to dissolve the National Assembly. With lightning speed, Alvi not only issued the dissolution order but also tried to coerce the Election Commission of Pakistan to issue the schedule of the elections.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that not only was the dissolution unconstitutional, since the vote of no-confidence was pending, but one apex court judge also called the action “constitutional fraud”. It was only after the Supreme Court on merit forced the Imran Khan government to table the vote of no-confidence on April 9, when the despotic rule of Imran Khan ended, effectively unravelling Project Imran.

Interestingly, the PDM leadership, especially Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, wanted quick elections soon after the success of the vote of no-confidence on April 10 last. Clear instructions were handed down from London but somehow Imran Khan was conveyed all this and he announced to bring in millions of people from Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab on May 25 last year, to force the government into elections through this mini-revolution that wanted to convert D Chowk into Tahrir Square. That is where the coalition government dug its heels and refused to cave in to pressure. So, if there is anybody who has sabotaged early elections, it is nobody but Imran Khan himself.

Now, after the dissolution of the Punjab and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assemblies, serious legal, constitutional, economic and security issues have cropped up making it prudent for all parties, the PTI included, to sit down, chalk out a programme of general elections on a single date across Pakistan as the tenure of the National Assembly expires mid-August, constitute a caretaker government in Islamabad with consensus and plug the holes in the constitution that have been laid bare through the current crisis.

The courts should allow the caretaker setup in Lahore and Peshawar to continue till one is also created in Islamabad. That is the only way forward.

Email: murtazasolangi@gmail.com

Murtaza Solangi, "Ending political instability," The News. 2023-02-23.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Foreign policy , Political stability , Democratic , Parliament , Corruption , Imran Khan , Fawad Chaudhry , Pakistan , PTI , PDM