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December 10, 2019

The subtraction game


December 10, 2019

There has been some degree of instability in the months that followed the PTI government’s election to power in 2018. But the quivering of the ground under our feet seems to be becoming more pronounced and the cries of change of one kind or the other louder and louder. The ‘minus Imran’ and ‘minus Maryam’ slogans continue to be heard. There is no way of saying one will bow out. On Saturday, senior PML-N leaders under the leaderships of Shahbaz Sharif met in London for a meeting on party strategy. The uncertain political developments in Pakistan were discussed and future plans debated. Most senior party leaders took part in the meeting and later visited Nawaz Sharif to brief him on the meeting and check in on his health.

The key focus of the meeting has been a decision that in-house change was needed, possibly leading to fresh elections. The PML-N has said the party’s policy on these details will be finalized after returning to Pakistan. What we face then is an increasing degree of political turmoil. The position of the PML-N and its allies in parliament, notably the Senate, is a strong one and the complete breakdown in links between the government and the opposition has not helped offer any kind of stability. The role of other parties, notably the PPP, will become clearer in the weeks ahead. It has also been obvious that the PML-Q and the Chaudhry brothers have once again become active players in the politics of the country but what they hope to achieve is still difficult to say.

The PTI continues to defend its position despite mounting criticism over inflation, incompetence, foreign policy and other issues. It is also worth noting that the opposition and government have failed to agree on filling vacant slots in the Election Commission of Pakistan. We are not standing in a steady position. There is too much that remains uncertain and problematic. The lack of calm and the sense that the democratic system is not working smoothly with most decisions being passed through ordinances – till recently, at least – makes many uncomfortable. A great number of the promises made by the PTI and Imran Khan have not been kept. There is discord of other kinds too. And in the future, all this could bring new difficulties for Pakistan which will have to be sorted out one way or the other.

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