Game, a word that sounds unprofessional but is often used in Pakistan’s political system and even applauded by some at multiple instances, as recently seen on Punjab’s CM election day, slogans of Ek Zardari Sub pe Bhaari were raised and even tweeted by Pakistan’s foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto on Zardari’s interference in Punjab’s politics coaxing Ch Shujaat to write a letter (giving direction to vote in favor of Hamza Shehbaz) to Deputy Speaker PA. These instances raise questions in one’s mind, is politics just a game in Pakistan? or is it some serious business?
The meltdown of Pakistan’s politics is not a new phenomenon in country’s long political history. There have been multiple instances where institutions failed to resolve political disputes or crises through political means. Then why we refer to the current situation as more alarming? Or a political crisis like none other? Because this is now occurring with a recurrence that highlights political breakdown amid escalated uncertainties.
The political structure is currently in a deadlock having no solution in sight
The judicial verdict that struck down the PA Deputy Speaker’s ruling can be termed as a climax of Punjab constitutional crisis drama. The verdict referring PA Deputy Speaker ruling as unlawful authority while declaring Hamza Shehbaz’s election as wrongful and installing Pervez Elahi as CM of Pakistan’s biggest province further increased the tensions as these advancements have plunged Pakistan into uncharted territory.
Government at the center and Government at Punjab, both are not ready to recognize the other as legitimate. In the parliament, the whole structure is dysfunctional as the opposition is not ready to sit in National Assembly to delegitimize the current government. Political institutions are paralyzed and have no role to play in national politics as there are no clear directions and stability present.
The faux pas of dragging judiciary in political domain has gravely impacted the third pillar of state. Although the phenomenon of creating judiciary an amphitheater of political contests and pressurizing courts for personal gains is not new, this can be referred back to cases like of Maulvi Tamizuddin Vs the Federation, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Trial, but now this concept is becoming a routine.
As evidently, we can see Chairman PTI Imran Khan has repeatedly criticized and questioned the transparency and integrity of Judicial system. He even at some instances, asked for direct favors by mounting pressure on judiciary. The joint press conference by Leaders of PDM pressurized the judicial system to form a full bench otherwise the ruling alliance would boycott the court proceedings as the Government doubted the impartiality of the three-judge bench hearing Elahi’s petition, by claiming no-confidence in the proceedings by this bench.
Several Politicians and key-position holders termed the judiciary as a selective judicial system (which was solely for the purpose of serving their own political interests). At multiple instances, the political elites have also portrayed the court’s proceedings in a controversial light.
The deeply troubled economy of Pakistan cannot afford this political meltdown
Economically speaking, the rupee is in a free fall. The country is having severe balance of payment crisis, our gross reserves have dipped to $10bn at the end of June 2022. Pakistan’s public debt is estimated at approx. 75% of its GDP, SBP liabilities, in addition to swaps, are at about $4bn to this date, oil prices are skyrocketing. The country has seen an all-time low of Rs. 242 to a dollar, devaluating approx. sixty rupees in past three months. One might ask what the implications of this devaluation and free fall of rupee are?
The depreciation against dollar severely increases public debt as one rupee devaluation increases ninety billion rupees approx. in public debt without even borrowing a single dollar, which further increase interest rate, current and total expenditure and the cycle goes on.
Supply and demand for dollars determines the exchange rate. So, the formula is simple if we do not possess enough dollars to meet our imports, the rupee has to fall. Every dollar spent in senseless purpose, eventually has to be borrowed again on interest, further worsening the foreign debt. This alarming condition demands for lowering imports to decrease trade deficit. So, where does these facts lead us? Exactly to the point that Pakistan needs a clear direction in terms of economic and foreign policymaking. Which is only possible through political stability.
Read more: Behind the façade in Pakistan’s politics
The current meltdown of Pakistan political system is very menacing as the country is uncertain about its future economic policies. In the past economical crisis, like that of 2019, Pakistan had at least political stability which helped the country to get out of balance of payments crisis. But today the situation is worse, as the absence of political clarity is affecting the economic decisions. The political parties are not ready to accept each other’s legitimacy. National assembly is currently dysfunctional and working without an opposition.
The biggest province of Pakistan; Punjab is experiencing political instability hampering the governance badly. The country’s political institutions direly need to formulate rules of the game and a room for negotiation. If key stakeholders come to conclude that all of us trust particular political constellation to rule and remain stable for a foreseeable time. Then surely there will be advancements in every field such as economic affairs, foreign affairs, welfare etc., because then there will be a uniform direction and stable decision-making process.
GOD BLESS PAKISTAN!
The writer is a Public Policy Analyst and graduate of National University of Science And Technology, Islamabad. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.