As Pakistan’s elusive search for political stability continues, there is an urgent need for viable measures to break the perpetual cycle of political turmoil and polarization.
Pakistan has once again caught itself in the whirlpool of domestic politics. However, those who are familiar with the country’s past would know that the current political turmoil is just one other phase in a repetitive cycle. From the times of our founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, to the recent ouster of the PTI chief, Imran Khan, political stability in Pakistan has been equivalent to a drop in the ocean through the country’s 75 years. Moreover, one of the most recent developments, the arrest of Imran Khan has further aggravated the political situation in Pakistan. However, instead of striving to put their house in order, our leaders are busy playing revenge politics. Consequently, the author thinks of achieving political stability in Pakistan as merely a mirage.
Marred from birth, Pakistan’s quest for survival has been as intriguing as it has been uncertain. Since its inception, Pakistan’s democratic system has fluctuated between civilian and military governments at various times throughout its political history; primarily due to political instability, political corruption, terrorism, and civil-military conflicts, resulting in multiple military coups across the country. Democracy in Pakistan has never functioned properly with no elected government culminating its tenure fully in history; from 1947-1958, as many as seven Prime Ministers of Pakistan resigned or were ousted, resulting in an ultimate military takeover. Thereafter, popular leader, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto refused to accept the results of the 1970 general elections, which was followed by the tragic separation of East from West Pakistan. Although, the tenure of Prime Minister Bhutto saw some semblance of political stability, it was short-lived and ended in 1977. The political circus did not stop here, and the pursuit for political stability continued. According to the Political Stability Index, provided by the World Bank, the average value for Pakistan from 1996-2021 was -2.09 points – indicating weak performance. Moreover, according to data collected by the World Bank in 2021, Pakistan ranked 181 out of 194 countries in the Political Stability Index, scoring -1.67 in the chart. However, these stats may have further plunged after the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The perennial cycle of political instability does not end here, instead, it may have further exacerbated with the arrest of PTI chief, Imran Khan. This development resulted in an outburst of public anger, and thereby further deepened the polarization. The country has already suffered a lot in the past and the current political environment suggests that it may suffer even more in the near future. While the country suffers, it seems like the politicians and institutions have been thrown into the pit of a power struggle over who should run Pakistan. In addition, the stakes have never been higher in Pakistan; its economy is on the verge of collapse, society is highly polarized, millions are yet to recover from devastating floods, terror attacks are escalating, and the inflation bulge is unprecedented. Yet, the politics of revenge triumph over every shortcoming. Many commentators and experts argue that the current political situation in Pakistan is unprecedented and have become skeptical about the prospects for political stability in the country.
As the director of the South Asia Institute at Wilson Center, Michael Kugelman comments on the current political conditions of Pakistan, he says, “Pakistan doesn’t have the luxury of saying this political crisis is a distraction, eventually we’ll get back to where things need to be.” It means, Pakistan needs to revamp its approach in governing state affairs in order to succeed in its elusive search for political stability in the country, otherwise, the forthcoming implications would be indigestible and the state might eventually collapse.
This is high time for Pakistan to take tough decisions to turn the odds in its favor. Pakistan now is in dire need of a healing touch. For that, it first needs to shun the politics of revenge aside and focus on viable measures that should be taken to stabilize the country. Therefore, all political parties need to sit together and develop a code of conduct for regulating political competition and resolving political conflict through compromise in their true spirit of national reconciliation. Rather than practicing revenge politics, they must shape it into a sort of concorded politics where all political leaders consider the national interest as their true priority.
Moreover, the government must ensure the country’s security by structuring sound policies and must desist from indulging in populist propaganda and hollow slogans for cheap popularity at the expense of national interests. Also, institutions cannot fix the country’s condition alone; the people of Pakistan must step forward and contribute fully to put the country on the right track. Lastly, general elections are due to take place this year and must not be delayed at any cost, as it will be the decisive moment for the country’s route towards stability.
Therefore, none can disagree that political instability in Pakistan is the reason for our all fragilities and concrete steps are anticipated from every stakeholder before political stability becomes an unachievable dream.
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