Pakistan

Intense politicking: High-stakes election gamble continues

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Parliament is dysfunctional, assemblies are on the verge of being dissolved, economy is in tatters, terrorism is resurfacing and political turmoil is increasing with each passing day; yet the bigger issue for the parties is how to force elections and how to avoid it.

As the PTI is threatening to dissolve the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assemblies and gearing up to appear before National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf for the verification of resignations of over 100 of its lawmakers pending since April, the ruling PML-N led alliance at the Centre is vowing to block all such measures and is adamant that elections would only be held once the constitutional period is completed.

Since the PTI doubled down its efforts to abandon the assemblies only to come back after winning the general elections, the ruling alliance is busy blocking the same by presenting a no-confidence motion against Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, provincial assembly’s speaker and deputy speaker as well as threatening to impose governor’s rule so that elections are held after August 2023.

Though the PML-N has repeatedly ruled out snap polls even if Punjab and K-P assemblies are dissolved, it has realisation that avoiding elections would be difficult if resignations of the PTI MNAs are accepted as the strategy is to delay the process to the extent that elections are held on the seats falling vacant after next August in case the PTI legislatures’ resignations are accepted.

On the one hand, the PTI has planned that its MNAs would be visiting the NA coming Wednesday for the acceptance of their resignations and, on the other hand, the assembly secretariat has announced that resignations would not be accepted collectively and all the MNAs will have to appear before the NA speaker individually for the verification of their resignations.

The PTI had resigned en masse back in April to force general elections in the country yet the government has so far successfully resisted all its plans — with or without courts decisions at the Centre and in Punjab. Initially, the Supreme Court’s decision had saved NA and recently, the Lahore High Court’s decision has saved the Punjab Assembly, at least for a few days with the possibility of extending further.

The PTI feels that it’s the right time to go for elections, especially, after its winning streak in the by-elections. It staged rallies, organised long marches and threatened to march on the capital yet things have remained the same.

Conversely, the PML-N believes that elections should be held on time as it had taken some “tough decisions” to make things right and needed time to mould public opinion back in its favour.

The PTI blames the previous governments and accuses them of corruption as well as bad governance while the incumbent government points a finger at the PTI’s “poor performance” and “incompetence”.

The whole struggle is to paint the other side as bad as one could imagine and come to power regardless of where the country goes in the meanwhile.

The attempts to force elections have not yet succeeded but they continue. Each move is being countered with only one objective and that is to delay elections till the assemblies complete their tenures.

Politics is at its peak and people are at the bottom or rather at the receiving end of the successive rulers’ policies that have failed to provide relief to the masses when needed the most. It still continues and might go on for some time unless both sides sit together and find a way out in order to save the dwindling economy, rising terrorism attacks and uplifting the countrymen from the troubles they are in because of the ongoing political wrangling.

It’s time to sit across the table and find solutions instead of continuing the rhetoric.

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