Pakistan: Coalition On The Path To Collision

Pakistanis are getting jittery because of the ‘politically loaded’ statements from the ruling coalition as well as the opposition headed by Imran Khan. Lately, PTI Chairman announced that his party’s long march towards Islamabad for the country’s “battle for real freedom” would begin on May 25, 2022.

He said the main demands for the march to the capital were the immediate dissolution of the National Assembly and announcement of a date for the next general election.

Khan wants to charge the mob by saying, “I want people from all walks of life to come because this is Jihad, and not politics. I’ve decided and told all my team that we have to be ready to sacrifice our lives.”

Imran indicated that the march would convert into a sit-in and continue until his demands are accepted. “We will never under any situation accept them. No matter how long we have to remain in Islamabad we will remain there.”

I am surprised at the logic and narrative of Khan. If he wants fresh elections, he should ask his party members (MNAs) to resign and the coalition will have no option but to go for fresh election.

I have a feeling that Khan fears that in case his party members resign the stage would be set for the creation of an interim government and elections would be deferred till completion of the electoral reforms.

PML-N-led coalition government appears unwilling to take the blame for any unpopular decisions it may have to take to fix the economy. It wants guaranteed backing of the powerful military establishment to help it see through the remaining period of its tenure till August 2023.

The coalition believes it can handle the PTI march if other things are sorted out with the establishment. Interior Minister Sanaullah has expressed his wish to arrest Khan provided he gets the ‘go-ahead’, as he thinks even one day in prison would make the ousted premier forget politics.

It is highly regrettable that neither Khan nor Sharif understands the gravity of situation. Pakistan has to satisfy the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and seek the ‘fitness certificate’ to pave way for the immediate release of US$1 billion. This would be the preamble for release of funds by other multilateral financial institutions as well as friendly countries.

It is therefore suggested that the ruling junta should show some endurance and Khan should also support the incumbent government in the preparation and approval of the federal budget for the next financial, likely to be announced on June 10, 2022.

In my opinion even the most contentious issues should be discussed and resolved in the parliament and should not be taken to the streets. At present the top national priority is approval of the federal budget. It is better that Khan and Sharif develop working relations at the earliest.