The week has been bizarre. People are asking what kind of democracy is this – where democratically elected assemblies are dissolved, ministers and lawmakers attack the military and civil establishment, judiciary overstretches itself into politics, and economy is run on loans and aid. It is bizarre, yet accepted as the way democracy functions in Pakistan.
On Wednesday, Jan 18, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali signed the advice for the dissolution of the provincial assembly sent to him by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan. On Tuesday, KP CM sent advice to KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali to dissolve the provincial assembly. Five days earlier, on Thursday, Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi forwarded the summary of dissolution to the Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman, who refused to sign the summary within 48 hours — because he did not wish to be a part of the dissolution process before the assembly completed its term.
Between Thursday and Wednesday, on Tuesday, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accepted the resignations of 34 PTI MNAs and Sheikh Rasheed against the backdrop of the reports that President Arif Alvi is all set to ask PM Shehbaz Sharif to take a vote of confidence from the lower house of the parliament. The Election Commission of Pakistan de-notified them soon after.
The hectic activities – all in a week — burnt out political analysts, bewildered lawmakers – and even for the most hopeful among us, giving up hope became an option.
These hectic activities – all in a week — burnt out political analysts, bewildered lawmakers – and even for the most hopeful among us, giving up hope became an option.
“The sinking economy will take Imran Khan, Shehbaz Sharif, Asif Zardari and others to the bottom of a sea of crisis and failure,” said senior analyst Mazhar Abbas during Naya Daur’s flagship programme Khabar Sey Aagay.
“Our politicians are making the economy to take a nosedive. The talk of Pakistan defaulting is gaining traction. Still, our political elite is not viewing the chaotic economic situation with seriousness.”
Although Abbas does not see elections being announced anytime soon, he thinks if the polls are held smoothly, and as per Khan’s assessment, if the PTI sweeps them in Punjab and KP and is able to form the government, it will benefit the party hugely in the National Assembly election – and, “this will be an enormous setback for the Pakistan Democratic Movement, especially for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in Punjab”.
The PML-N is struggling. Saad Rafique, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Miftah Ismail are of no help these days. “The PML-N problems magnified after Maryam Nawaz was appointed the senior vice president and chief organizer of the party,” said Mazhar Abbas.
The PTI lawmakers tried to convince Khan to not dissolve Punjab and KP assemblies in succession because, “they wanted to hold KP as the last fallback position, after Punjab and Islamabad,” said Ismail Khan.
Over the past many years, the PTI may have become a force to reckon with in the KP, yet it faces a myriad of problems. After PTI chief announced at the culmination of the Haqeeqi Azadi March in November that he would dissolve the two provincial assemblies, where the PTI was at the helm, the PTI leaders from KP had advised to reconsider his decision and consult senior leaders. They tried to convince Khan to not dissolve Punjab and KP assemblies in succession because, “they wanted to hold KP as the last fallback position, after Punjab and Islamabad,” said Ismail Khan, Dawn’s resident editor in Peshawar.
“When the speaker of the National Assembly accepted the resignation of 35 MNA, the KP lawmakers were hopeful that Imran Khan would reverse his decision to dissolve the KP assembly. Even Pervez Khattak had advised Khan to delay the dissolution of the KP assembly,” he added.
The KP lawmakers think, “Imran Khan only listens to what Fawad Chaudhry says. This will drive them to grow disgruntled, as they will gear up for elections soon,” said Khan.