90 Days or Beyond

Jawaid IqbalPakistan’s Constitution, the guiding light on all matters of governance and jurisprudence, reigns supreme over the acts of the legislative and the executive. However, a mélange of manipulative means, coupled with a whole host of face-saving, yet extenuating measures, are being employed by the incumbent regime led by Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) to defy the constitutional values to keep delaying the polls in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Notwithstanding the fact that the current regime has now completed its one year in power, it has miserably failed to deliver on the promises it had made with the people of the country as Pakistan now finds itself on the verge of sovereign default while facing vagaries of socio-economic injustices across multiple determinants of internationally acclaimed human development indices including health, education, housing, employment, and justice, not to exclude a litany of invincible challenges crippling almost all areas of state governance.

Despite totally a flop show in power, the Shehbaz Sharif-led government seems to be on the rampage to bludgeon the Opposition into submission by employing both legal threats and unlawful means to the extent of labelling and branding the entire Opposition, along with the former prime minister Imran Khan, as traitors and terrorists. If the core political ideology of the former prime minister is characterized by demagoguery and populism, the same attributes can now be found in the current politics of the incumbent PML-N regime too, which is driven by political vendetta and ceaseless confrontations with the opposing forces from the word go. The focus on good governance has now been replaced by a brazen display of gandasa governance, wherein the entire state machinery and its institutions, especially the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), look hell-bent on flouting the well-defined constitutional provisions regarding the holding of the elections within a stipulated 90-day period.

The term ’90 days’ tends to be more of a scary phenomenon in the political history of Pakistan, thanks to General Ziaul Haq who after imposing martial law in July 1977 promised free and fair elections within the next 90 days. However, the 90-day period took about eleven years to see the light of day. Prima facie, the predecessors of Shehbaz Sharif-led government regarded the constitution as merely a piece of paper, however, the current regime has gone even further by making the most of power by deriding both the constitutional provisions together with court directives to hold the elections within the allotted time frame. Suspending the democratic process as a time-gaining ploy in pursuit of a nine days’ wonder, the powers that be can no longer play cat and mouse at the expense of national interest. Or else, the Constitution per se will end up as the ultimate casualty in the on-going tug of war. Elections, on the face of it, do not lead to overnight economic recovery or bring a desirable level of growth at the push of a button. However, holding the electoral exercise as per the constitutional requirements could go a long way to end the continuing stalemate, bring about the much-needed political stability and pull the economy out of crisis. Put it bluntly, it’s time to go for snap elections across the country. 90 days or beyond, days are numbered for those still resorting to non-constitutional alternatives to keep the status quo intact. The writing on the wall is plain and clear, as now a barrage of public anger and disagreement is about to spill over and engulf the so-called movers and shakers of the country’s political system in one blow.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
President & Editor in Chief