Composite illustration by Syed Asif Ali
Pakistan is facing a political crisis. The volatile situation has been defused only by court verdicts. Imran Khan, PTI leader, is now in Islamabad facing about a hundred court cases. As expected, he fears arrest and disqualification from contesting the coming elections. However, Imran Khan is upholding the symbolism of respecting the Rule of Law and fighting these mostly bogus allegations against him in various courts of the country. Today, this symbolism matters a lot as he is gaining public sympathy. Most importantly, the world is watching now and will note actions taken by the state authorities.
Notwithstanding Pakistan’s PDM Government’s apparent inclination to not hold elections as per the Supreme Court verdict, the people demand them, as per the law. Attempts to crush the Opposition forces don’t make sense anymore. Is Pakistan descending into a direct military rule? Hope not for the sake of the country.
The litmus test of Pakistan’s sacred cows is whether the two provincial elections are held next month. It appears not. For the sake of Pakistan, they must be held as scheduled. Hoping against hope now.
The solution is adherence to the Rule of Law. It bears to repeat infinitely that no one, including, the military, can stop the provincial elections from taking place next month. The Supreme Court verdict must be implemented, no matter what. All are subordinate to the doctrine of the Rule of Law, with no exceptions. There are no sacred cows in Pakistan. The will of the people is supreme. However, establishing a democratic foundation in the country is no easy task. Given Pakistan’s history, building it will need time and earnest effort.
The PDM government in Pakistan is bent on crushing the Opposition PTI as it fears its increasing popularity. Ridiculous allegations of terrorist activity are being leveled against Imran Khan the party’s leader. The PDM govt does not count in today’s Pakistan. The real power is vested with the powerful military brass. Can Pakistan come out of the grave political crisis on its own? No chance at all. Now it is up to its friends to step in and resolve the conflict tearing the country. Given the grave economic crisis, Pakistan has little time left for that to happen.
Given Pakistan’s tragic history, it bears repetition that a military has no role in a country’s politics. Can the political parties of Pakistan create an alternate political system.? There is no evidence that they can. They have no democracy within them.
Pakistan is a mess. There is a crisis of leadership in Pakistan. There is no stateman guide. That is the real tragedy of the country. Nevertheless, Pakistan must move on.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is also facing a severe economic crisis requiring immediate attention. The precarious nature of Pakistan’s economy requires swift action. Yet some hurdles remain in securing the IMF deal. The government of Pakistan must now fulfill the remaining IMF conditions immediately, and get it done. No choice in the matter now. The sooner the better. Simple as that.
This is a catch-22 situation for Pakistan if there ever was one. The IMF says that Saudi Arabia, and other friends, must help now before they release the tranche money themselves. Meanwhile, Saudis say that Pakistan must get the IMF deal first. Meanwhile, internal conflict is now wrecking the country. Military interference continues unabated. The PDM Government is both ineffective and clueless to resolve the matter. Pakistan’s ruling elite should have seen it coming. But that is expecting too much from a mediocre and callous elite. Something must give. The real crisis in Pakistan. Hoping against hope now.
Debt servicing in Pakistan is now equaling its federal income. Not a good prospect at all. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s political instability is severely affecting its economy. Not that it is being managed wisely in the first place. But still, political stability is paramount and fundamental for economic stability.
There are opportunities now available for rapid economic growth because of recent Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with Iran.
Very recent developments in the Gulf vis a viz Saudi Arabia and Iran have occurred which can surely benefit neighboring Pakistan. But first Pakistan must put its own house in order. Will that happen anytime soon? There is little evidence of that yet. The ruling elite is not up to the task, to say the least. That much is unfortunate for the people.
There is an urgent need to adhere to the country’s constitution for workable solutions to the current crisis. It bears repetition that the military has no role in Pakistan’s political system at all. Let constitutional law prevail for once. Not likely to happen though. Hoping still.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance