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Reports of likely delay in general elections have given birth to a new bout of uncertainty, confusion and pessimism in the country. A significant decline on Pakistan Stock Exchange yesterday is said to have been caused by the confusion regarding the upcoming elections. Elsewhere, too, there are discernable concerns among businesspeople over lack of clarity about the general elections.

But what is increasingly clear at this point in time is the government’s overt reluctance to call it quits. Unlike Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the second largest component of the ruling coalition, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the largest component, is not very optimistic about its electoral prospects mainly due to the ÍK factor’.

On the other hand, however, PPP is quite confident about the numbers that it would be able to muster to form a coalition government led by party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. PML-N, therefore, is trying harder to brighten its prospects between now and the general election day at all costs.

Although an increasingly beleaguered or moth-eaten Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) does not constitute any real threat to PML-N in Punjab and KPK, the Sharifs have decided to take no chances. They have been trying every trick in the book to regain power. But their actions betray their lack of self-belief.

It is a widely known fact that democratic competition is undermined less by electoral fraud than by a skewed playing field. PML-N, in my view, is striving to create a playing field which must be clearly skewed in its favour in Punjab in particular. That is why perhaps we have been witnessing a sharp decrease in PTI’s stocks on a daily basis.

Ehtesham Raza (Karachi)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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