Pakistan cannot afford any more delay in holding the general elections as such an unjust hold-up will go down in history with a bad name.
When Imran Khan came to power in 2018, it was quite a challenging situation facing Pakistan due to prevailing political and economic insecurities. In the same term, the country struggled with the onset of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and dealing with the disastrous health crisis was a real test. Led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the previous government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) did manage the Covid-19 pandemic far better than many other developed countries. In that period, the opposition parties, united on the platform of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), continued their anti-government rhetoric, which is part and parcel of democratic norms and values. However, things started deteriorating in early February 2022 when the noise of the ‘No Confidence Motion’ took an ominous turn. Although the vote of no-confidence is a constitutional as well as a democratic right, the people behind the no-confidence motion resorted to rampant horse-trading and unfair means, and the way it started shaping up made the future of democracy in the country uncertain.
Though a petition was filed in the Supreme Court against the blatant sale/purchase of the parliamentarians, the Supreme Court decided to remain in the background and act as a mute spectator. Though the decision, which came from the Supreme Court, said, ‘Those who will cross the floor their votes will not be counted.’ However, had this delayed decision been taken on time Pakistan would not have faced the type of political destabilization it is facing today.
Since then, the print, digital and social media platforms are flooded with heated discussions on snap elections in Pakistan. Should Pakistan go for early elections to bring about political stability and pull the economy out of crisis? To find an appropriate answer to this question, it is crucial to highlight what is happening in the country and why.
If we reflect on the past 9-10 months, we can easily find that the country is at a standstill. There is no development going on on any front. Both national and multinational companies are reluctant to start new business ventures in Pakistan. When it comes to state prosperity and development, political instability is the mother of all evils, and in this tense and politically unstable environment like ours, it is next to impossible to begin a new business.
Since the vote of no confidence in the Parliament took place and the PTI government, led by Imran Khan, came to an end, it set new, yet negative trends in the political arena of the country. It will take ages to overcome the irreparable loss the political sector faced in these few months. Another big incident was the way the judiciary opened courts at midnight, raising serious concerns regarding the conduct of the judiciary as an organization it should work as per the Constitution of Pakistan.
The biggest issue under consideration is the incapable government that came afterward and is entirely unable to deal with the existing challenges. Amidst an unending political instability, economic insecurity is also at alarming levels and an atmosphere of mistrust prevails in both public and private sectors, while the growth rate of output per capita coupled with the pace of industrialization is getting affected. In a word, things are going from worse to worst. Unfortunately, Pakistan, being an unstable economy and developing state, cannot afford this prolonged period of profound political instability. At this crucial juncture, it looks more than a herculean task for the current government to grapple with the rising socio-economic uncertainty, political instability, and deep polarization. The damage is not limited to institutions alone as civil society is also bearing the brunt of it.
Regrettably, the key institutions of the country are not realizing the fact that the present state of affairs cannot go any longer. The longer they dragged the existing governance the worse the country’s economic and political situation would be. Therefore, free, fair, and transparent elections are an absolute necessity and solution to most of the problems we are facing today. However, if the call for an election is made under the existing Election Commissioner, it will lead to further instability, since the track record of the members of the Election Commission is marred by their political affiliations and thus they are not neutral.
To restore democracy in its true spirit, it is important to establish institutions that are able to carry the will and win the trust of the people. Therefore, a new Chief Election Commissioner must be appointed as a matter of priority. It is also sad on the part of our judiciary for not deciding the matters on time to resolve the most urgent issues while delaying snap elections is another mistake that they are committing. However, Pakistan cannot afford such a critical delay in holding the general elections as such an unjust holdup will be remembered in history with bad taste whenever the growth and transition of democracy in the country will be discussed. Thus, an early call for elections is the only solution to save Pakistan!