Political Maneuverings . .

 28th June 2023

               The outcome of the political discussions in Dubai holds the key to shaping Pakistan’s future. The decisions made during this grand political huddle will not only impact the upcoming elections but also set the course for the country’s governance and economic policies. It is a critical moment that demands strategic thinking, effective negotiation, and a genuine commitment to the welfare of the people. Pakistan awaits the results of these deliberations, hoping for a united front that can address the pressing challenges and lead the nation towards stability, development, and prosperity. The path ahead may be challenging, but with strong leadership and a shared vision, Pakistan can overcome its obstacles and emerge as a stronger, more vibrant democracy.

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               With each passing day, the prospects of the PTI party are dimming, paving the way for the ruling coalition to gear up for a crucial electoral showdown. However, in a long-standing tradition, decisions shaping the future of Pakistan’s politics are often made beyond its borders. This time, Dubai has become the venue for a grand political conclave, drawing the presence of notable figures such as Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Asif Zardari, and Bilawal Bhutto. Such extraordinary political coincidences, while rare and seemingly impossible, suggest that behind-the-scenes discussions are underway between the PML-N and the PPP, particularly involving Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. Undoubtedly, there is much to deliberate.

               First on the agenda is the caretaker government. Over the past weeks, numerous names have circulated, with a couple of individuals emerging as frontrunners for the interim prime ministerial position. At the very least, one would expect the two parties to reach a consensus on a candidate to oversee the transitional period. The caretaker government plays a critical role in maintaining stability and ensuring the smooth transition of power. Both the PML-N and the PPP must carefully consider their choices and select a candidate who is acceptable to all stakeholders.

               Another crucial topic is the election date. Earlier speculations hinted at the dissolution of assemblies just before their term ended, possibly leading to elections in November. The Dubai meetup might shed some light on this matter. The timing of the elections is of utmost importance, as it sets the stage for the entire electoral process. A well-thought-out election schedule allows for adequate campaigning, voter awareness, and preparations by political parties. It is essential for the ruling coalition to establish a timeline that provides ample time for all necessary activities leading up to the elections.

               However, the more challenging task lies in seat adjustments and alliances. This presents a trickier situation for the PML-N and the PPP, who have previously demonstrated a commitment to conciliatory politics, especially in their dealings with the PTI. Seat adjustments involve negotiations between parties to avoid splitting the vote and maximize their chances of winning. The parties must strategically analyze each constituency, consider their strengths and weaknesses, and determine the best approach to secure favorable electoral outcomes. While the PML-N and the PPP have shown unity in the past, there might be some deviations from their united front stance this time. Reports suggest that the party leaders are engaged in discussions to resolve any potential obstacles during their consultations. The challenge lies in striking a delicate balance between individual party interests and the larger goal of forming a formidable coalition to challenge the ruling PTI.

               Will there be seat adjustments in Punjab? Observers believe it to be unlikely, given the historical dynamics of Punjab politics, the emergence of Jahangir Khan Tareen’s party, and the influence of the PML-Q. Punjab has always been a politically significant province, and its electoral dynamics often shape the overall outcome of national elections. The presence of multiple political players in Punjab adds complexity to the seat adjustment process. It remains to be seen whether the PML-N and the PPP can navigate this intricate landscape and find common ground to strengthen their electoral prospects.

               The economy remains uncertain and continues to burden the people. Sources indicate that both major parties may attempt to agree on maintaining stability in economic policy, regardless of which party comes to power in the future. A robust political accord on the country’s economy is crucial. Just a few days ago, a former deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan highlighted on social media how India managed to revive its economy in the 1990s. The path to economic recovery was not magical but rather hinged on honest, pragmatic, and well-planned reforms. Pakistan, at this critical juncture, needs political leaders who understand the significance of prioritizing the economy. It is imperative to internalize the mantra of “It’s the economy, stupid” and move forward, keeping economic policies as free from political pressures as possible. Unfortunately, such an approach has been absent in the past year under the PDM government. With Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif now actively pursuing an IMF agreement for Pakistan, it is hoped that there is a realization that procrastination will not suffice in securing our economic future.

               The focus seems to be on Nawaz Sharif at this moment, as reports suggest that former leaders from parties like the MQM are also seeking meetings with the seasoned politician. This development may be attributed to signs indicating a potential neutralization of Nawaz’s lifetime disqualification through amendments in the Election Act and any subsequent review process in the Supreme Court. If Nawaz Sharif makes a comeback to mainstream politics and returns to Pakistani soil, electoral politics will revert to the pre-2017 landscape. However, a notable change is the possible absence of Imran Khan from the political scene. Analysts suggest that while Monday’s ISPR press conference did not explicitly name Imran, the implications were clear regarding who might be held responsible for orchestrating the events of May 9. This indicates a potential shift in the political landscape, where a new configuration of power may emerge.

               To steer Pakistan out of its current political, social, and financial challenges, two conditions must be met: a stabilized economy and a free and fair election. The economy remains a pressing concern for the people, and it requires a comprehensive and pragmatic approach. The political parties, regardless of their differences, must prioritize the nation’s economic well-being and work towards implementing honest and well-planned reforms. Additionally, ensuring a transparent and fair electoral process is essential to restore confidence in the democratic system. By upholding the principles of democracy, providing equal opportunities for all candidates, and maintaining electoral integrity, Pakistan can overcome its current pitfalls and embark on a path of progress and prosperity.

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