THE opposition is demanding early elections, but the question is: given the shambolic state of economy, can Pakistan afford it? Giving the looming uncertainty, our foreign reserves are about to run dry within months, if not earlier. Who will foot the bill in case elections are held, say, in a month? Will we go for mere note-printing to go through the motions of holding an election? And for what? The results will most probably be controversial enough to keep the political uncertainty going anyway.

To stabilise the economy, the government has to strike a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It has to take tough decisions. At this critical juncture, the opposition is out there on the roads, once again, demanding early elections.

If the government succumbs to the pressure and calls early elections, the IMF deal would not be possible as lending institutions usually do not negotiate with caretaker governments.

And by the time the next government comes to power, Pakistan’s economy would be in a free fall. Hence, it is in Pakistan’s national interest that the government should complete its term, take tough decisions, negotiate and settle its terms with the IMF and see how to optimise the deal by using it as leverage in bilateral agreements with friendly countries.

In any democratic country, rather than relying on political figure heads, institutions follow their mandate in accordance with the law of the land. It is ironic that today’s opposition had the chance to dissolve the assemblies and call early elections, but chose not to. But it wants today’s government to do just that even if it comes at the cost of national economy.

If the government does not complete its term and is forced to opt for early elections just because a handful of people have decided to raid the capital, it would be a blow to democracy, and set a bad precedent for the future.

It would become easier for any party to block the capital and force the government of the time to bow down regardless

of what it means for the national interest. Do we really want that to happen?

Subhan Khan
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2022

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