Finally, the much-anticipated date has arrived: The chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan, has formally confirmed the date for the dissolution of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, indicating that both houses will be terminated on December 23. Mr Khan’s reason, as stated in a televised address, is to pressure the government to convene early elections. Mr Khan expressed hope during his virtual address from Zaman Park in Lahore that once polls are held in “60 per cent of Pakistan,” the government will be pressured to hold nationwide elections. But why is he insisting on early elections when both the Punjab Assembly and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly are functioning properly and both of his party’s cabinets are performing admirably? Furthermore, why is Mr Khan so adamant about ending the legacy of Asif Ali Zardari, which he began in 2008, in order to complete the assembly term? In 2013, the first legislature finished its tenure constitutional term, its legacy continued through 2018. Currently, the federal government is operating smoothly despite having various coalition partners. Positive effects on Pakistan’s democratic culture would have resulted from a third assembly proceeding to its logical conclusion.
But Mr Khan doesn’t pay attention to anyone, and he hasn’t changed his ways since his disastrous attempt to shorten the term of the assemblies in 2014, when he camped out on Constitutional Avenue for several months. The government must hold its ground and go ahead as per the constitution: hold elections for provincial assemblies, and that’s it. Since his ouster from the government, Mr Khan has not forgotten the wounds. In his Saturday address, he kept on attacking former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, accusing him of conspiring with foreign hands to destabilize the PTI government. He accused Mr Bajwa of not allowing him to hold the plunderers and corrupt accountable. No one can defend against the blunders the establishment has committed in the past, but this institution is trying to avoid political wrangling, which is a welcome step. Mr. Khan is gaining power as a result of the federal government’s failure to make life easier for the people. We can see the countrymen responding by siding with PTI since his outers. The country fears default as foreign reserves are depleting day by day. The federal government needs to restructure governmental institutions but it is faced with formidable opposition from Imran Khan. The government failed to break away from the alliance of Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi with the PTI. Also, the PTI stands united under the leadership of Mr Khan, whereas most of the key PML-N leaders are in London, while the PPP’s face, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, is busy day and night in diplomatic engagements. The federal government parties are apparently banking on the support of the establishment, which may backfire. The only way to counter Mr Khan’s narrative is to show performance. At best, the government could have engaged the PTI on election dates, which it did not.
If the assemblies are dissolved, the Election Commission of Pakistan must hold elections as per the rules. In 90 days, elections must be held. Any delay would weaken the ruling coalition and strengthen Mr Khan. The current PDM administration must devise a plan to prevent a default and provide relief to the government. It should also come up with measures to improve foreign reserves, export revenues, and international remittance earnings. No doubt, the PTI government did remarkable work on exports, remittances, and tax collection.