THE PTI government is increasingly looking vulnerable. The last few weeks have savaged its perception both in terms of governance and political stability. On the governance front, spiralling inflation has been weakening the government on a daily basis and denting its popularity. The steep hikes in the price of petrol, electricity and food items have severely affected the lives of the majority and all attempts by PTI spokespersons to spin this have been in vain.
Inflation is doing to the PTI what load-shedding had done to the PPP government in earlier years — taking a toll so high that it would be incredibly difficult to salvage its political standing among the electorate. These woes have been exacerbated by political and perceptional instability triggered by tensions between the government and military leadership over the appointment of the DG ISI. Since then, the government appears to be fighting a losing battle to pretend that all is well. It is not.
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This is manifesting in a fresh wave of discontent being expressed publicly by the government’s coalition partners. In recent days, parliamentarians from the MQM and PML-Q have aired their grievances against the government on various media platforms without mincing words. They have in fact gone to the extent of stating that if matters do not improve with the government, they may have to take some difficult decisions. That is as clear a hint as can be that the allies can walk out of the coalition and make the government fall. This is why the opposition also sees an opportunity to stick the knife in. There is talk of a move to de-seat the Senate chairman or even the Speaker of the National Assembly. In short, the government is taking a battering from all sides and appears wobbly and nervous.
There is a lesson in this for those who are open to absorbing it: if a party is dependent on the establishment to come in power, it will remain dependent on it to stay in power. The ‘hybrid’ system is therefore becoming a victim of its own concept — an irony that should not be lost on those who have become victims of it. Pakistan’s politics will continue to remain marred by instability and in-built distortions as long as it stays wedded to a system that gravitates around the establishment.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s woes should be seen as an example of what happens when your climb to power is not entirely organic. The voters of this country must be respected for their choice. Future governments should be dependent only on the public’s mandate and nothing else. Only then can they remain powered by a stability and confidence that is needed to take bold decisions aimed at reforming Pakistan. For the time being, it is a lesson that Mr Khan would do well to learn, if he wants to arrest the decline.
Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2021