The politics of Pakistan is suffering from a serious crisis—the dissolution of the assemblies—and the political parties are at the crossroads of being left out if elections are not held. Since the ouster of former PM Imran Khan, there is not a single day without any drama or unpredictable situations.
Imran started a series of protests allegedly calling out a foreign conspiracy that paved the way in separating him from executive power and launched a new tactic to pressurize the government into calling for elections. Naming this long-march “true freedom march” motivated the public to join, but the slow pace of the march and continuous censoring by the PDM government didn’t let it dominate public opinion.
Sadly, in an assassination attempt in which many people got injured, Imran suffered from four deep-bullet injuries. This event in the current scenario had shifted the public eye on him, and even the haters sympathized with him. Finally, after the ups and downs, the long march successfully reached Rawalpindi on November 26. All eyes were on him, and he decided to dissolve the provincial assemblies and vowed not to join such a ‘corrupt’ and ‘imported’ government.
“The governor shall dissolve the assembly if so advised by the Chief Minister; and the provincial assembly shall, unless sooner dissolved, stand dissolved at the expiration of forty-eight hours after the chief minister has so advised”, article 112 of the constitution of Pakistan.
This is not the first time that PTI has emotionalized the political battle in Pakistan; the same was done back in 2014. Imran Khan is well known for his U-turns; suddenly changing and abruptly shifting his priorities from one pole to another has been a part of his political career. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) also lacks the funds to conduct elections, so once the assemblies are dissolved, how will the expenses be covered?
Political parties are also looking for ways, two of which are extremely vital to mention. The opposition could file a no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister, and according to Mr. Irfan Qadir, Advisor to PM and former Attorney General for Pakistan, the Chief Minister would be unable to dissolve the assembly if a no-confidence motion were to be filed against him.
Secondly, the question of the Governor’s prerogative is roaming around in legal circles. According to Mr. Irfan, the Governor is the de-jure Governor and has the authority to reject the request of the Chief Minister, as the latter is de-facto CM. The political move played by Imran Khan has initiated an existential threat to the coalition government.
The dissolution will not necessarily bind the government constitutionally to dissolve the National Assembly too, but the disbanding of the two largest provincial assemblies could make things harder for the federation. The dissolution would also add more stress on the ECP to conduct elections in 90 days while also preparing for general elections in 2023.
The dissolution of the assemblies would not only weaken the statecraft but also pose threats to economic stability. The foreign reserves of Pakistan are on a slippery slope, and the deficit is mounting pressure on the government to borrow more. Non-state actors i.e TTP took benefit of the situation and called off the cease-fire agreement.
An alarming rise of the militancy in tribal areas has been observed which came about from the void left due to the political turmoil and the lack of state authority. The political interests should not be prioritized at the price of the national interests of Pakistan. The checkmate move by Khan has cornered the coalition government, but it has also exacerbated the fragility and magnified the chaos.
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