This is the time for elections in Punjab, and perhaps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa too. As the majority of the Punjab Assembly MPs stood by Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi in the vote of confidence, Mr Elahi preferred to stand by Imran Khan, as within a day after getting a vote of confidence late on Wednesday, the chief minister signed the summary for the dissolution of the provincial assembly on Thursday. By the time we went to the press at 10 pm on Thursday, the governor of Punjab had received a summary from the chief minister, “I Parvez Elahi, hereby advise you to dissolve the provincial legislature.” Earlier reports suggested that the chief minister may linger on the dissolution. But at the end of the day, the words of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Imran Khan prevailed, and the dissolution of the assembly is a matter of days, if not hours.
The past several weeks have been politically uncertain and tumultuous. The coalition opposition of the PML-N and PPP tried to unnerve the chief minister through a governor’s order to seek a vote of confidence. This led to rumours of horse trading, and a female MPA of the PTI, Momna Waheed, publically said that she was not going to cast her vote in favour of Parvez Elahi. The ruling coalition, however, successfully garnered the support of the majority of the lawmakers in a vote of confidence. The PTI-PML-Q alliance came out strong, and the opposition could not get a hold of Punjab. While efforts were made to sabotage the coalition’s rule several times, it has been established once again that the PTI has a strong support base in Punjab. While PML-N lawmakers deemed the vote “unconstitutional” and “bulldozed” and walked out of the assembly, PTI and PML-Q lawmakers celebrated their victory once again. The vote was held in the early hours of Thursday, which also became a point of contention for the two opposing sides.
After demanding a vote of confidence in the Punjab Assembly and realizing that their agenda would not be fulfilled, PML-N lawmakers walked out of the assembly. This shows that they only accept decisions that are in their favour and that they have no respect for democratic decisions made following the constitution. Such is the case of those who pretend to be working for the betterment of the country.
The Punjab Assembly ruckus has come to an end now. Since April, political instability has caused much damage to Pakistan. The economic front is in shambles due to consecutive years of poor policies and lack of implementation, and the political side also does not settle. Day after day, political parties want to grab power from each other, even if it means making the country unstable.
Political parties must learn to accept defeat when the decision does not go their way. The true meaning of democracy must be understood, and the rule of law must prevail. PML-N cannot have its way every time, and just because the centre is governed by them, does not mean that provinces will also follow suit and give in to their tactics.
It will be healthy for the country if the defeat is amicably accepted without creating a ruckus in and outside of the assembly. It would be prudent for the opposition parties not to indulge in a “third time’s the charm” policy. The defeat must be accepted a second time, even if it was difficult to digest the first time.
At a time when the country is going through such economic challenges, these political problems should take a backseat, and all parties should combine forces to work together on a solution instead of playing games. There are better things the courts and the assemblies need to focus on instead of this game of musical chairs, in which power goes from one hand to another and then back to the first.
It is now time for all parties to accept the positions they currently hold and start preparing for the next general election. Pakistan is already in shambles economically and politically; this immature behaviour can wait, but the crisis the country is in will not. Parvez Elahi is the chief minister of Punjab, and he will remain in the seat until the caretaker setup is installed. Within the following two days, a letter will be delivered to Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz to finalise a caretaker government. Three months from now are election times. Elections should now be entered with an open mind by the ruling coalition as well as Imran Khan’s party. They ought to make their manifestos public before accepting the results. The government must also consider national elections because if two provinces, which account for 70% of the nation, hold elections, the remainder of the nation should follow suit. If Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the speaker of the National Assembly, accepts the resignations of the PTI legislators, then the majority of the nation would be in an election period.