In present times, people should be glued to the television serial dramas that are the centre of attention in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Instead, they are fixed on the latest news updates. The recent political tension in the country has once again raised many questions about the governing body. It is a tale of the country where no Prime Minister has completed a full five-year term in the 75 years of history. Yes, it is the truth of India’s neighbouring country, Pakistan.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a South Asian country and the fifth most populous in the world. Its governance and administration have fluctuated between democracy and military government many times, mainly due to political instability and corruption, thus leading to the enforcement of martial law. Many people in Pakistan thought that Imran Khan might defy the odds and become the only prime minister in history to serve a full term. However, he took the trend of not completing the term forward.
There are many reasons why Imran Khan couldn’t complete his term. To begin with, the opposition criticized him for economic mismanagement. There has been a recent upsurge in the price of food and energy costs. According to the statistics bureau data, inflation rose to 12.7% in March 2022 from 12.2% in the previous month. It means that the cost of living has increased and a unit of currency buys less than it did in previous times. The economy has been put under crippling debt. Pakistan secured a $6 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in May 2019. It is a 39- month loan program where the IMF regularly reviews economic policies and the growth of the country. Till now, $3 billion has been disbursed. However, Pakistan has failed to meet the IMF requirements like improving bank and tax legislation, phasing out electricity subsidies and many more. The current account deficit is touching a historic high of $20 billion mark which depicts a serious financial crisis.
Imran Khan has also been condemned for his poor personal conduct. In his public speeches, he addressed Osama Bin Laden as a martyr and the Taliban as the liberators. Imran Khan came into power based on his anti-corruption campaign claiming for a better and new Pakistan. Contrary to his claims, the Pandora Paper investigation showed that Khan’s inner circle moved money abroad to avoid taxes. Furthermore, the Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar, a close aide to the Prime Minister was accused of widespread corruption. His mismanagement of the country made several legislators withdraw their support from his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The military further withdrew support from him. These all stances gave the opposition a chance to file a no-confidence motion against him, as they had a good chance to succeed.
No- confidence motion is a vote that decides whether the government in power has majority support in Lok Sabha or not. In case the motion gets passed, all the officials in the office are forced to evacuate. No Prime Minister in the history of Pakistan has ever been removed through a no-confidence motion. Imran Khan is the first person whose fate was decided through this voting.
It all doesn’t end here. There were many more twists and turns to the story. On 3rd April 2022, to everyone’s surprise, the deputy speaker of Parliament, Qasim Suri blocked the vote of no-confidence which was widely expected to be lost by Imran Khan on the grounds of foreign interference. Imran Khan stated this all as a foreign conspiracy to out-throw him. He blamed the opposition for joining hands with the United States (US). He further claimed that it was all because of his independent foreign policy and relations with Afghanistan, Russia and
China. However, he never provided any concrete evidence and these allegations were bluntly denied by Washington. Further, the parliament was dissolved and Imran Khan called for a snap election.
The furious opposition filed a case in the Supreme Court to decide upon the legality of the action and if it was possible. On 7th April 2022, the Supreme court declared that the decision to block the no-confidence vote is completely unconstitutional and illegal. They called for the motion to take place in the lower house of Pakistan. The crucial session witnessed many heated arguments and suspensions. The motion took place and Imran Khan lost. The opponent party Pakistan Muslim League (N) secured 174 votes out of the 342 member house.
Shehbaz Sharif was elected as the country’s 23rd Prime Minister on 11th April 2022 and will hold the position until the elections are next due in August 2023. The opponents declared it a new chapter for Pakistan. The businessman has a good reputation for being an efficient ruler. Yet, it is not as easy as it seems. He will be taking on the office when there are major fiscal and current account deficits. The country is deep in debt and is struggling to make its interest payment. COVID-19 has intensified the situation. It has drastically increased unemployment. According to a report, the labour market of Pakistan shrank by 13% in the April- June quarter of 2020. The soaring inflation is worth concern as it deeply affects the poor and middle class. To conclude, Pakistan still has a long way to go. Reconstructing the crippled country will require correct identification of the challenges and appropriate strategies to combat them.
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