Pakistan’s Current Scenario and Upcoming Elections

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Since the operation to install a new government in April 2022, former prime minister Imran Khan has been putting pressure on the state’s stakeholders to organise general elections in order to put an end to the political unrest and move the country closer to stability. The state is on the verge of default, the administration is seeking assistance from the IMF bail-out package, which has not yet been confirmed, and negotiations with the IMF are ongoing, so they are unable to run in the elections.
Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw were under the rule of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf, however on the party chairman’s directive, both provinces’ chief ministers disbanded their respective provincial parliament. Elections must be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies, as stated in Pakistan’s 1973 constitution. However, neither province’s governor was eager to announce the election date.
The Pakistani Supreme Court will take a Suo Motu action against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s opposition to the polls. A three-judge panel presided over by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, heard the case. polls in Punjab will take place on May 14, 2023, according to a ruling by the Supreme Court, whereas KPK has not yet set a date for polls.
After the decision of the supreme court, the federal government decided not to obey the decision. A bill was presented on Tuesday, was presented in the National Assembly named “Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023”. The government thinks that the Judiciary is responsible for the political instability in the country so they want to lessen the power of the judiciary. They think that the judiciary in intervening in the political matters of the state.
The government is still trying to delay the elections whereas Imran Khan and PTI have started their election campaigns. The federal government called the meeting of the National Security Council on Friday, to plan the delay in elections. Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee Lt. General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and others were in the meeting.
There is a possibility for the delay of elections, if the governments declare an emergency in the state. But looking at the policies of PTI against the intervention of the army in politics, and the disbelief of people from the army is something to worry about. The way Imran Khan is leading this election campaign using the anti-army narrative, in case if army takes over, it can lead to civil war in the country. Because the Pakistan Army is the only institution left in this country for national security. Since, coming out of the government, Imran is constantly bashing the army. Pakistanis never dared to say anything against the army but Imran has forced them to do it like this.
Now looking at the elections, whether they are held on the given date or not, eventually the state has to move towards elections. The question is, what kind of role the establishment will play in the elections? As far as my knowledge is concerned, the establishment of Pakistan has given so much freedom in the politics of the country. They decide which political party should be given the government which is in the interest of the establishment. They can bring any party of their choice to the government but they cannot give a reasonable majority to the party in the parliament. The establishment experimented with it with Nawaz Sharif in 1997. Nawaz took a supermajority in the 1997 general elections, the highest by any party in the political history of Pakistan. And we all are aware of how the tenure of Nawaz’s government ended leading towards Martial Law.
Looking at the 2018 general elections, there was never a winning chance for PTI. PMLN and the establishment knew about the blunders in the economy they made. That was the reason they gave the collision federal government to PTI. So, they can easily remove Imran from office whenever he gets dangerous for the establishment, and that’s what happened. Removing Khan from office through a No Confidence motion, as Khan was not having a majority in the Parliament.
In my opinion, the establishment would not take such a risk to get themselves out of the elections, because Imran Khan has gained supreme popularity throughout the country. If the establishment gets itself out of every political activity, Imran is certainly going to win elections with a supermajority and then he will take the action against the army. Which can eventually lead towards the scenario just like in 1999 when General Musharraf toppled the Sharif government.
So, the establishment will not allow any party to have a good majority in the parliament so they can have control over the political affairs of the state.

Mirza Afnan Baig is a BS International Relations student at the University of Central Punjab. He is the joint secretary of the IR Department Society of the UCP and president of the Elite Research Group at the UCP. He can be reached at @MirzaAfnanBaig5