KARACHI: Pakistan faces heightened political uncertainties with the expected dissolutions of two provincial assemblies, experts said on Sunday, after former Prime Minister Imran Khan made the announcement in his latest attempt to pressure the federal government to hold early elections.
Khan, who was removed from office in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in April, has campaigned for snap polls since his ouster and refused to accept the government of PM Shehbaz Sharif, which he says was cobbled through a parliamentary vote and not voted to power by the masses.
On Saturday, Khan said his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which controls two of the country’s four provincial assemblies, would dissolve the regional legislatures in central Punjab and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Dec. 23.
Khan’s announcement increased uncertainties in a country that has witnessed months of political instability, which has taken a toll on an already frail South Asian economy struggling to stave off financial default.
“He’s put the government in a difficult position by announcing the decision to dissolve the assemblies,” Mazhar Abbas, senior journalist and political analyst, told Arab News.
“The decision is a political one and a constitutional one.”
Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, president of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, said Khan may be expecting fruitful negotiations to take place before Friday.
“If Khan was so determined to dissolve the assemblies, he would have done so immediately,” Mehboob told Arab News. “He is expecting that in the next four to five days, some negotiations that may be going on behind the scenes may bear fruit.”
The expected dissolutions and their aftermath would also shift focus away from major issues Pakistan was facing.
“Issues that need our attention, such as economic problems and the floods, will be ignored,” Mehboob added.
Pakistan, faced with high inflation and dwindling foreign reserves, has been battling an economic crisis exacerbated by devastating floods that killed over 1,700 people.
Mohammed Zubair, a leader in PM Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party and spokesperson of former Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif, told Arab News that the opposition may call for a vote of no-confidence against the Punjab chief minister but said the PML-N and its allies have yet to decide.
He said Khan is plunging “the country into more uncertainty,” adding that “high tension will also persist.”
“If the vote of no-confidence is not pursued, then obviously the assemblies would be dissolved,” Zubair said. “It would put a burden on the election commission and the government.”