Early elections



The senior PML N leader and former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, in a TV interview yesterday disclosed that PML N supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif was in favour of early elections, maybe in October this year. He further said that it was a party decision that the interim set up will not last for long. He however did not responded to questions regarding incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif statement that his government will complete the rest of the tenure.

The former Prime Minister and head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan has announced to spearhead a long march towards Islamabad most probably in the last week of the month. The political parties, by and large, do not choose the month of May for long marches and rallies because of scorching heat that restricts public mobility. However, the PTI had to do it now for it cannot afford to delay its movement anymore. There is no doubt that PTI, after the unfolding of the so-called ‘lettergate’ issue, has sought to improve and strengthen its popularity, which at one point seemed to have touched the lowest ebb. It was just a month ago that even the die-hard PTI workers had resolutely announced not to vote for Imran Khan keeping in view the three years and seven months performance of the PTI government. The youth; women voters and supporters especially seemed greatly disturbed with the PTI performance. Price hike; free ride of the dollar; lawlessness and so on and so forth were the key issues that had made all and sundry disappointed. In the light of the above, if the PTI government would complete its five year term, its defeat in the elections would have become certain. But then surfaced the Lettergate issue and things dramatically turned into PTI’s favour.

Another important development that presumably has forced PTI to have an early long march relates to a possible smear campaign being launched against the PTI chairman by making public some videos that may contain indecent materials. The purpose of the campaign, as claimed by the PTI leadership, is to disparage the respect and credibility of the party chairman in the eyes of his voters and supporters and even the general public. This reported campaign may be launched before the long march in order to make sure that people do not take part in this drill.  Only time will tell to what extent the anti-Imran Khan forces are able to cause a potential dent to the credibility of the ex Prime Minister, one thing is for sure the PTI chairman has successfully sold his narrative of foreign intervention or conspiracy that led to removal of his government.

The PTI leadership is quite hopeful about the success of its venture and announcement of the date for the next elections as a result of it. According to its plans, elections in September or October would greatly help the PTI to return to power with an even bigger majority. The government on the other hand has its own plans. It wants to complete the remaining term come what may.

There is a consensus that the government can counter long march plans only through its good governance and resolution of problems faced by the common people. It needs not to repeat the mistakes of the PTI government. It needs to immediately bottle the inflation monster if it really wants to make its rule sustainable. While the dollar still remains out of control, the wheat and water shortages across the country have started taking a heavy toll on the government.

The PTI leadership has to work on all fronts including improvement of its relations with the international community, in order for its long march to meet with success. Imran Khan also has to keep in mind that if his theory of foreign intervention is true, then forces responsible for his removal would never like him to return to power any time soon. The PTI leadership has to admit the reality that it is simply not possible to survive in isolation. And particularly when Pakistan’s economic and defense related needs are directly linked to brotherly and friendly countries.

 There is a wider consensus that the early elections are the only way to deal with the emerging challenges. PML N top leadership sans the incumbent prime minister does want early elections because it believes the longer it remains in power the greater the risks of incumbency factor that may cause a dent to its popularity in the elections knowing it very well that it is simply next to impossible to set the house in order in a year or so. The parties such as PPP and JUI F would certainly like to stay in power till the end because in normal circumstances and through elections it was not possible for them to get so many ministerial slots.