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EDITORIAL: PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) Chairman Imran Khan’s decision to dissolve the Punjab and KP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) assemblies is a welcome departure from his usual politics of confrontation and street agitation, even if it only raises the political temperature when the country is in a very precarious situation as far as its economy is concerned.

Still, despite all its complications, trying to force an election through a legally-valid political process is a much better use of his support base than the original plan, and should have come much sooner, though protesting has just as much legal, constitutional and political cover.

Rumours of resistance or reluctance from Punjab have been promptly laid to rest by Chief Minister Pervez Elahi himself, while his KP opposite number has always been on board, so it shouldn’t take too long to take care of the formalities to dissolve the two provincial assemblies.

The ruling coalition, for its part, seems headed for the realisation that delaying a general election might get progressively more complicated than holding one. PTI has made it amply clear that it will not relent from its one-point demand, and it has the street power to keep the pot boiling, and everybody suffering, till it has its way.

So far the government has managed to deflect PTI’s spirited charge, from accusations of “conspiracy” to “imported government” to help from “handlers”, because everybody except PTI’s support base understood that all those were constitutionally irrelevant charges.

Now, though, a political process has been set in motion, which will drain a lot of energy out of PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) one way or the other, so it wouldn’t be surprising if its leaders do give a general election some serious thought while they rehash their own strategy after Khan’s “surprise”.

In such times, when the economy is teetering to the point of a possible default triggering unbridled nervousness in the trade and industry circles it is the duty of the political elite to bring the country together and help it heal, not tear it further apart.

Therefore, leaders of all parties are now expected to give up their juvenile tantrums and put their heads together to find a way out of the impasse. PTI will have to accept the fact that for matters to move forward it must first give up its habit of badmouthing and accusing other political parties and their leadership, who does not agree with it. And the government cannot look the other way forever when the largest and most popular party in the country is beating at its door.

So the two will have meet half way, or thereabout, and the people of the country that continue to suffer from this needless confrontation would be much better off if they do it sooner rather than later.

Politics is the art of the possible, after all, and people who have been in it for decades ought to know that you don’t always get what you want, but what is possible. And that, more often than not, requires compromises from all sides.

It was Imran’s rigid posture that ruled out any negotiations with anybody, even the thought of returning to parliament, and pushed his followers towards the extreme step of trying to remove a sitting government street power. And the government has been similarly inflexible in its dismissal of PTI. Clearly, this cannot go on much longer.

Our leading politicians’ single-minded lust for power, so nakedly on display over the last eight months or so, has thoroughly destabilised the country, driven away investment, and hurt the economy. If they still cannot display the maturity required of them, they will not be worth the votes they are apparently willing to do anything for.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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