Although the agitation and propaganda of the opposition parties aimed at bringing down the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan have failed to gather momentum, yet they have created a lot of panic in the country, making achieving reasonable political stability in the near future quite unlikely.
The activities of the umbrella group of almost all opposition parties of Pakistan, known as Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), are going on and its leadership is announcing rallies and meetings one after the other. However, the public response to it is negligible. Nevertheless, on their part, scores of news channels in the country have been giving extensive live coverage to the opposition agitation and propaganda, creating a lot of confusion among the public. An impression is being created by the media that the opposition parties’ anti-government activities are really making a great impact, which does not seem to be the case, if objectively observed in the public. The extensive coverage of PDM rallies and meetings is understandable as the history of the media suggests that it has always been on the opposition side, which has come to be known as the media’s watchdog role. However, the situation in which Pakistan as a state and society has entered, the media coverage does not make sense because the country needs stability at this critical movement.
On its part, the government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of PM Khan has also largely failed to deliver and improve performance in most respects of governance and policy making. There are two basic reasons why the PTI government has failed to perform satisfactorily. The one is that most of the ministers and advisers are quite incompetent. Secondly, the government has misplaced priorities, like it has been concentrating more on recovering misappropriated money by past governments and civil servants than coming up with a comprehensive agenda of bringing about a visible change, claims to the contrary notwithstanding. A closer look at both causes reveals that it is because of the systemic constraints that competent leaders could not be produced and that the sitting government could not overlook past governments and their performance and concentrate on its own policies.
In other words, it is the problem of the political system due to which we could not have stability in the country. Some may argue that the political system, which was framed in 1973, was not allowed to work due to the imposition of martial laws. However, the record must be kept straight that it was Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto, who held elections one year before his government’s stipulated five-year tenure in order to remain in power for the next five years. The earlier elections were extensively rigged which gave birth to the opposition movement, Pakistan National Alliance, which ultimately created an opening for General Zia to usurp power. So, it was the weakness of the political system that could not stop General Zia from taking power.
Fast forward today, the opposition’s PDM is trying to dislodge the government of PM Khan. The constitutional way is to bring a no-confidence motion against the federal government in the National Assembly. However, due to shortage of the requisite number of parliamentarians the opposition is not bringing the motion. Rather it has resorted to street agitation to dislodge the government which, as explained earlier, is not making any headway. If PM Khan is removed through a no-confidence motion and the opposition parties form a weak government, the logical way forward would be to call new national elections. There is also a possibility that sensing that he no longer enjoys the confidence of the majority of the National Assembly Members, PM Khan may dissolve the National Assembly. Even in this case, snap elections would be the way forward. However, it must be noted that constitutionally once a no-confidence is tabled against the leader of the house or the prime minister, he no longer can dissolve the National Assembly. And once the opposition parties come to know that the PTI no longer enjoys the majority, they would waste no time in bringing a no-confidence motion against the prime minister.
Under the Constitution, if the National Assembly is dissolved by the leader of the house or in case of a no-confidence motion against the prime minister, no other party or coalition of parties is able to form the government, new elections become a natural corollary. In the new elections, the PTI would go with the argument that during its government it took serious steps against financial corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and perpetrators of economic terrorism. As the leadership of both main opposition parties, the PML-N and the PPP, has been involved in the crimes, therefore, they have launched a tirade and campaign against the government and used ill-gotten money to buy political loyalties and turned a PTI majority into a minority in the National Assembly, the PTI would say. Therefore, if the people want to bring culprits to justice, they must vote in large numbers for the PTI. This is the only way to bring an end to corruption in the country, the party would tell the public.
On the other hand, the opposition parties, the PML-N, PPP, ANP, JUI-F, JI and others, would go to probable snap elections with the argument that the PTI and PM Khan were profoundly incompetent to run the government and it just targeted its political rivals instead of bringing stability and sustainability to the state. Therefore, people should not repeat the mistake to re-elect the PTI.
In either case, the PTI would be able to win with a clear majority than in the 2018 elections or if the opposition parties singly or together win snap elections, political stability in the country would be highly unlikely. Because the way PM Khan has so far ruled the country and the level of competence of his ministers and advisers leaves a lot to be desired. Therefore, despite the honesty and earnestness of PM Khan to bring stability and development to the country, he could not do so due to the incompetence of his ministers and advisers, coupled with insubordination of the bureaucracy. He would face the same situation if the PTI wins again.
In an event of a win of the PML-N and the PPP individually or as an alliance, the greatly-tainted leadership of both parties would concentrate on taking to task the PTI and Imran Khan and telling the people that their leaders were never involved in corruption but were wrongly implicated. They may indulge in more corrupt practices to keep their rank and file happy and intact. The ultimate victim of the situation would be the people and the state. Thus, snap elections would be in no way a panacea for the grave issues, conflicts and crisis of Pakistan. The present political system does not have what it takes to address the issues and problems of the state, people and society. If the country is to be put on the right track of stability, peace and development there is a need to change the political system.