Poll announcement

Published February 21, 2023

AT a time when the country needs stability, President Arif Alvi’s decision to unilaterally announce a date for elections in Punjab and KP has once again plunged Pakistan into political chaos.

Announcing the move through the president’s press office, Dr Alvi defended his decision as a “constitutional and statutory duty”, and criticised the ECP and Punjab governor for allegedly shirking their responsibilities. It is unclear how things will now unfold.

Constitutional law experts themselves are divided, with some asserting that the president is within his rights to set a date for elections, while others emphasise that this is a matter that only the ECP can decide. Are we facing a fresh constitutional crisis? Will the judges intervene, and will we now be spectators to yet another drawn-out legal drama, with the courts deciding who is right?

This fresh crisis will play out amidst multiple ongoing difficulties that are causing unimaginable hardship to ordinary citizens. We are already on the brink of economic collapse — including default — and are threatened by the resurgence of terrorist groups as the brazen attacks on law-enforcement agencies across the country have shown.

It is Pakistan’s misfortune that the nation is going back to that familiar place of darkness, confusion and disorder — all thanks to our political leaders, on both sides of the aisle, who have no solutions to offer and are only experts in accusing each other of mala fide intent.

The country is at this precarious place because our politicians have yet again failed to provide strong leadership. Time and again, they put their political survival first and the country second as they focus their energies on manipulating the election date.

The ruling PML-N is hellbent on avoiding polls, for fear of being pummelled by its opponents as it fails to curb inflation. It is twiddling its thumbs and waiting for a miracle, both in terms of a financial lifeline and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s return.

The PTI, high on its evident popularity, is playing the role of spoiler and exploiting every rule in the political playbook to force elections. Parliament is a circus, and the ECP, sadly, is being seen as a rubber stamp for government actions.

Acrimony and the perpetual failure of the government and opposition to engage on matters that demand immediate action mean that it is the judiciary or certain other powerful quarters that might take political decisions.

The elected representatives will have only themselves to blame if those outside their domain take advantage of the situation. Sanity must prevail. This paper has time and again advised the government to go for early elections — across the country and not just in the two provinces. The authorities must act wisely to prevent the country from reaching a point of no return.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

More pledges
Updated 25 May, 2024

More pledges

There needs to be continuity in economic policies, while development must be focused on bringing prosperity to the masses.
Pemra overreach
25 May, 2024

Pemra overreach

IT seems, at best, a misguided measure and, at worst, an attempt to abuse regulatory power to silence the media. A...
Enduring threat
25 May, 2024

Enduring threat

THE death this week of journalist Nasrullah Gadani, who succumbed to injuries after being attacked by gunmen, is yet...
IMF’s unease
Updated 24 May, 2024

IMF’s unease

It is clear that the next phase of economic stabilisation will be very tough for most of the population.
Belated recognition
24 May, 2024

Belated recognition

WITH Wednesday’s announcement by three European states that they intend to recognise Palestine as a state later...
App for GBV survivors
24 May, 2024

App for GBV survivors

GENDER-based violence is caught between two worlds: one sees it as a crime, the other as ‘convention’. The ...