How did Bilawal predict early general elections?

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 04:13 PM, 31 Jul, 2021
How did Bilawal predict early general elections?
File photo.

Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari foresees early general elections in the country and has directed his party men to roll up their sleeves for the exercise. 

At a ceremony at the Sindh Chief Minister’s House in Karachi a few days ago he said keeping in view the Afghan situation, it was imperative that the PPP should form a government in the country. 

“We know difficult times are ahead, and only one party is capable of taking care of the country and that is the Pakistan People’s Party”. 

While all ruling PTI leaders insist the Imran-government will complete its mandated constitutional term of five years, it is not clear what makes the young chairman of the PPP believe that fresh balloting is in the offing. Premature polls are held by an incumbent government only when its popularity is at the peak and it is fully confident of its victory.  

But this is not the case at present. 

The Imran government has yet to honour its pre-election commitments and also has not been able give any relief to the poor people. 

Then, although it has lately won some elections, especially in AJK and on a Sialkot seat, it doesn’t mean it has become popular enough to take the risk of calling premature elections.   

People from all walks of life agree despite its tall claims the PTI has failed to convert Pakistan into a Madinah-like state; prices of essential items are beyond the reach of the common man; and the rise in crime strengthen the belief of absence of a government. The overall performance of those in power is also disappointing.    

However, if the well-connected and informed son of a former president and an assassinated prime minister is to be trusted for his early poll forecast, the ties between the government and the opposition will face some new tests in the times ahead. 

Under the Constitution the elections are held under the supervision of a caretaker government, the head of which is chosen both by the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly through a laid-down procedure. 

This means that Imran Khan and Shehbaz Sharif will have to share the table to agree to such a person. In view of the prevailing state of relations between the PTI and the PML-N evolving consensus on such a person will be a challenging task. This is despite the fact that the PML-N wants early elections as it claims that its mandate had been stolen in the 2018 elections. (Those elections were held when former chief justice of Pakistan Nasirul Mulk was the caretaker prime minister. He had been chosen by then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah). 

Everybody knows that all decisions in the PML-N are taken by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the man prime minister Imran misses no opportunity to target and accuse of looting the country and promoting corruption. 

As the situation stands, it’s in fact Mian Nawaz Sharif who has to take a decision on the interim prime minister. His brother Shehbaz Sharif, as opposition leader, has only to act as a conduit. 

Will the two sides easily agree to such a man, will become clear when the stage comes. 

Another step the government and the opposition parties are required to take before the elections is the introduction of electoral reforms.  

It’s unfortunate that fingers have been raised about the fairness of all elections held during the past five decades. The practice will continue unless all sides agree to a set of measures that make the outcome of balloting acceptable to all parties.  

For this purpose the PTI is determined to use the electronic voting machines to avert the possibility of any irregularity. But the opposition parties label the step a new form of manipulation. 

So far, the two sides are poles apart and results of even a thousand elections will remain controversial unless there is an agreement on electoral reforms. 

The PML-N may set some tough conditions for the government before agreeing to talks for electoral reforms. 

Let’ see the unfolding situation.