Why would the government want to complete its term?

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Editorial

When the coalition government took over almost three months ago, it was believed, or maybe the deal was this that the government soon after taking charge would announce early elections. The sole purpose of the then Opposition’s exercise was to dislodge the PTI government spearheaded by Imran Khan. They did it successfully. But what transpired afterwards, perhaps nobody had foreseen that. The coalition was confident it would steer clear the country out of the mess, according to it, created by the PTI government. Before taking the charge, particularly their economic wizards including the Finance Minister Miftah Ismael were upbeat about delivering the economy from chaos and uncertainty. Things however did not go according to their plans and hence the worst economic crisis has hit hard to all and sundry.

Announcement of elections soon after the fall of the Imran govt may have avoided the mess we are in these days. A caretaker government composed of technocrats would have done much better than the ones who are calling the shots. Now things have reached to such a pass that it would be suicidal for the coalition parties to leave the government at this stage when their popularity graph has went down significantly. If they call it a day at this stage then they have to suffer heavily in the coming general elections for with this baggage they will not be able to convince the voters that they are the best choice for them. Therefore, they would like to first set things in order and then think about going to the elections.

After the long march fiasco, the PTI leadership would think twice before launching another march. As a face saving they have put the ball into the court of the Apex Court and linked its next long march move to the court decision. And one wonders, why the court would like to drag its feet into this matter. The Shehbaz Sharif govt believes that after the long march ‘failure’ PTI has been rendered toothless so nothing to worry about it. Under this presumption, the government thinks there is no harm in completing the rest of the term.

On the other hand, PTI too is not interested in a long march any time soon. The party wants to contest the Punjab by-elections with full force with a view to winning all the seats and return to the Punjab Assembly with majority. If everything goes according to PTI plans, then it can easily overthrow the Hamza government. By and large the ruling government backed candidates sail smoothly in the by-elections therefore it would be indeed a challenge for the PTI as to how it would reverse this trend.

The appointment of the new army chief is yet another plus point for the incumbent government that may help it stay in power. The appointment of the army chief is done by a regular government and not a caretaker one. Announcement about this appointment is likely to be made somewhere in September or October this year because the COAS retires on 29 November 2022.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on June 24, 2022 announced to impose a super tax on the big industries. Additionally, he announced that he would impose tax on the wealthy people. The decision appears to be a smart move however the question is how will it be implemented? And how the government would ensure that those who are going to be taxed, would not increase prices of their products. If they will do this then from the face of it there is no point in taxing them because they would then recover this amount from the ordinary people. Experts rightly believe that the government needs to broaden the tax net besides plugging the loopholes in the taxation system due to which over 300 billion rupees tax is evaded every year.

Then widespread corruption is yet another bane the government has to deal with. There is a huge disparity between our earnings and the level of corruption. Imran Khan has rightly raised the issue of corruption in his rallies and intends to continue with it even in the coming days. Sources suggest, some back door contacts have been established between the PTI and the Establishment. However, only time will tell whether these contacts would really help PTI get a date for the early elections. Some say the contacts may just be bait in order to keep the party engaged!!