It is election time in our country. Each countryman is endeavouring to get some idea of which party would have majority in the parliament. In other words, who will be the next PM of Pakistan? It is quite difficult to predict at this moment. However, what is important is that people, whether living in urban areas or residing in countryside have become aware of their role in electoral processes. Now, perhaps, first time in the history of Pakistan voters are questioning the electables. This is unprecedented in a country which has deep roots of a feudalistic society. The credit goes to media that have successfully brought about political understanding in masses. Although this change is minimal to transform the feudalistic society but it’s a good omen for democracy in the country.
Thanks to this political awareness that everyone is dreaming of a better Pakistan. People are very enthusiastic for a change. Here a question arises that will 25th July elections bring a change, as being desired by many in the country, or will it add to the problems of motherland?
As PTI leader has, time and again, argued to make a New Pakistan under his premiership. If Imran Khan becomes the PM, we assume for the sake of analysis, would it bring any change to this country, particularly the structural reforms? Will this country become a New Pakistan in its true essence? For this we need to conjecture about different possible election outcomes.
Many analysts are arguing that this time no single political party will be in a majority enough to make a government single-handedly. On the contrary, it will be a hung parliament. Hung parliament simply means a coalition government. For a majority government in our country a party needs 170 members of National Assembly. If not a single party gets this strength in parliament it will be a hung parliament.
The possible scenarios for such a government are as follows:
PML (N), PPP and some independents join hands to form a government.
PTI, PPP and some independents form a coalition government.
PTI, MMA, and some independents rule together.
In all these scenarios there will be difficulty in, first, deciding important portfolios, legislation, formulation of policies and executing the set forth goals. Because, without a majority in parliament there is no guarantee the ruling party can decide what it aims for and pass laws according to its ambitions and in the best national interest. Lord Norton, an expert on parliament put in these words “It’s [coalition government] clearly constrained - it can’t do what a government with an overall majority can do”. Henceforth, such a government would lead to an uncertainty in the country with severe repercussions.
Second, a sense of short-termism with governance constraints will pervade. Because a majority government can do what it wants but a coalition government has certain constraints. It will be under a constant pressure of being overthrown by other parties. It will ultimately affect governance. Norton explains “It’s far more fraught, a far more hand to mouth existence. You can govern but you can’t govern proactively”. This would add to miss-governance and mismanagement in the country.
Third, instability and chaos will prevail in the country, because, at that time the individual political interests would overshadow the national interest of the country. This would be fatal to our political, economic and social progress and prosperity. The goals acheived in the previous tenure of PML (N) will not payoff. High inflation, downfall of rupee and lower growth rate will be imminent. Unemployment will increase and the youth-bulge would be threatening the prosperity of our country. Economically shattered, politically volatile and socially depressed Pakistan would not be able to exploit democratic transition in her favour.
Fourth, also the democratic transition would not be immune to those severe threats. A coalition government is always under threats from other parties. It can be overthrown at any time. Hence, snap elections will be continuously threatening the democratic transition.
Fifth, on external front, Pakistan will not be in a position to exert its strong influence, because, a domestically unstable government could not successfully execute its strong foreign policy agendas. At this critical moment when regional realignments are at peak and our relations with US, India and Afghanistan are posing severe foreign policy challenges we need a strong national government.
For example, last week, in a FATF plenary session, Pakistan’s name has been placed in ‘grey list’ and the country is a step behind black list. At this time we need a domestically strong government which can work in the best national interest. To successfully execute foreign policy goals Pakistan needs to work domestically on policies of curbing terror finances as well as global perception management so that its narrative be accepted by regional and international states. These challenges would not be easy for a hung parliament.
Now question arises what is the solution? For that we can unequivocally say that elections are always unpredictable, anything uncertain can happen. The people of our country can make it happen if they vote in a large number for giving a clear majority to a single party. All citizens must cast their votes irrespective of their caste, family, or religious affiliations. Feudalistic structures should be torn apart. They must critically evaluate the performance of electables before voting for them. The nascent political awareness must be applied in its true essence. Vote for whom your conscience considers the best. A large turn out might change the fate.
The writer is serving in Punjab Police. He holds masters in International Relations from Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. Currently, he writes in different journals and newspapers on Foreign policy and Security issues.