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Friday, February 3, 2023
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Political instability orchestrating economic concerns in Pakistan

Pakistan is facing a crisis on three major fronts including economy, security, and politics. On the economic front, the country is failing badly. The country's foreign reserves are depleting rapidly, the dollar has gained the peaks against rupee and still, the hike is going on. The government seems to have no control over the economic situation of the country.

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Today Pakistan is at a critical juncture. The country is surviving merely. Pakistan is facing a crisis on three major fronts including economy, security, and politics. On the economic front, the country is failing badly. The country’s foreign reserves are depleting rapidly, the dollar has gained the peaks against rupee and still, the hike is going on. The government seems to have no control over the economic situation of the country. God forbid, if things carry on the same way, the country may default on its foreign debt obligations. The second major front of national security is under huge stress.

Since 2016, the country has worked hard to de-escalate with India, prompting a trusted relationship with Iran, and the normalization of relations with the Taliban. But things in India are far from normal. Indian acts of intrusion in Balakot back in 2019 and undermining international and mutual agreements on Kashmir in 2019 have closed the doors of talks and there has been a threatening situation till then. Problems with Iran are still in place. On the other hand, with the rise of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan, all the efforts of the previous American -the led government have gone in vain.

Read more: Pakistan economy in long term ICU – Editorial

Today, Pakistan is again facing a very unstable Afghanistan across its longest border

When it comes to politics, all of this started with the vote of no-confidence back in April. When the opposition coalition took over the government of Imran khan. With the fall of the center, the government in the largest province of Punjab also faced a setback. Hamza Shahbaz became the chief minister of Punjab with the help of some dissidents of PTI in the assembly. On this account, a presidential reference was filed in the supreme court on the interpretation of Article 63-A of the constitution of Pakistan and the court invalidate the votes of defected PTI members resultantly an election was to be held on the 17th of July.

PTI won the majority seats and with the help of PMLQ 10 votes, the said party was able to secure a simple majority for its candidate. But here again, a political crisis emerged with the letter of chairman PMLQ Ch Shujaat Hussain and the speaker provincial assembly didn’t count the votes of PMLQ and Hamza Shahbaz was again appointed as the chief minister of Punjab with 179 votes against 176 votes of PTI. On this account, Ch Pervaiz Elahi filed a petition in the supreme court against the decision of the deputy speaker and a bench under the chief justice of Pakistan heard the proceedings. PMLN and the coalition showed discontent against the bench and asked for a full court bench against this bench of three judges.

The bench rejected the request stating that a full court bench cannot be made till September and this petition doesn’t require a full court bench and considered the request of PMLN and coalition a delaying tactic. The court accepted the petition of Ch Pervaiz Elahi and decided that the votes of PMLQ will be counted under article 63-A of the constitution of Pakistan. Resultantly, Ch Pervaiz Elahi became the chief minister of Punjab which PMLN called judicial chief minister. PMLN and its coalition posed reservations against the bench of the highest court and threw a verbal war against the institution. The coalition government also came up with a heated debate in the parliament after this decision and questioned the interference of the institution of the judiciary in parliamentary affairs.

Read more: Did Pakistan economy really progress under PM Khan?

However, there is a need to understand that, it was politicians who took the matter to the door of the supreme court. On this specific matter of 63-A, one also needs to understand that, it is written in the constitution that the parliamentary party will decide on parliamentary affairs and the party chairman will only act if some members go against the decisions of the parliamentary party. In the case of PTI defections, a small group of PTI members defected against the parliamentary party decision, while in the case of 10 votes of PMLQ, all the members of the parliamentary party of PMLQ decided and voted for their representative. However, the party head issued a letter to change the decision at the last minute without informing the parliamentary party members, constitutionally which it cannot.

PMLN and the coalition were only playing political tactics in the highest court of Pakistan. But there is no doubt that the decision is not a full stop to the political crisis but has orchestrated further political and legal crises in the country. As the decision has proved a fatal blow to the PMLN and has shaken its political base in Punjab. Undoubtedly, this can lead to early elections with the federal government limited to Islamabad Capital Territory. Banners were placed on the boundary of Islamabad territory displaying the end of the jurisdiction of the federal government. As PTI has governments in Punjab, Kpk, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, and PMLN are likely to face the same music that it used to do in past to ambush its rival governments in the federal.

The way forward

However, questions have also been raised on the institutional intervention against the described roles in the constitution. Reservations were also made by several retired judges like justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Qazi Faiz Isa of the supreme court. Both of them questioned the partial composition of benches on sensitive constitutional issues by bypassing the senior judges of the supreme court with diverse views. No doubt, there has always been a problem with institutional intervention throughout the history of Pakistan. But it is not the terrific problem in place.

The main problem at this hour is the failing economy which will ultimately jeopardize the national security of the country. With this political turmoil in place, the situation will only worsen. There is no doubt that fresh elections are the only way out. But there are also concerns of political parties on the election commission and many more. So, what is the way out?

Read more: Matiari-Lahore transmission line to boost Pakistan economy: China

The answer lies in the grand dialogue in the country consisting of all the stakeholders if we are to save this country. There is a dire need of setting aside personal agendas and cover all the energies the national interests. Politicians will have a political arena only if the country survives, and the military and the civil establishment will have their institutions to run only if there is a strong Pakistan. The same applies to the judiciary. Undoubtedly, there are loopholes in the constitution that need immediate attention, but for that, there must be a country with running institutions.

 

The author is a columnist at Modern Diplomacy and an Undergraduate student of Peace and Conflict Studies at National Defence University, Islamabad. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.