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When it comes to the outlook of Pakistan’s political sphere, there are questions on whether stability or predictability would return.

The country was looking forward to the February vote for nearly a year. They were seen as a way to steady the partisanship and polarisation that’s gripped the country’s politics for years. But things got out of hand, as is the case with Pakistan’s General Elections, and allegations of rigging surfaced soon enough. The delay in results also did not help the cause.

Questions were raised earlier around the inclusivity of polls given Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) had faced a massive crackdown in the aftermath of the May 9 violence, and was also stripped of its electoral symbol.

Now that the elections are over and a newly-elected government has taken some shape, it is time to delve deeper into what the future could hold.

The PML-N and PPP have sniped at each other during the election campaign last year. They also fought to pull each other’s government down during the 1990s.

Despite the first PDM government and the charter of democracy, there is an uneasiness about the PML-N and PPP when they join hands together.

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The reliability and consistency of the policies of this government will also be an issue. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will have to tread very carefully as stakeholders involved in government formation are more than one.

He has the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other creditors to think about as well.

Then there is the issue of the provenance of the new government. If we keep in mind the elections that have provided the seats for this new coalition, then we are faced with the prospect of an unpopular government that simply lacks the goodwill of the people to carry out what even might be vital financial sacrifices.

This lack of goodwill, and depending on the pain caused by any structural adjustment program or new tax schemes, can lead to an intensified crisis. Any crisis can undermine the future reform agenda.

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One is reminded of the Sharifs’ former leader in the Pakistan Muslim League, Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo, who under more difficult circumstances than the ones faced by the PML-N, stood up and demanded so many things like the restoration of full democracy in Pakistan and the ratification of the Geneva accords to quickly aid the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It remains to be seen if Shehbaz Sharif is in the same category of principles.

Meanwhile, the caretaker setup also played a part in causing some uncertainty, pinning the blame on timely elections on the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

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This heightened fears among the public as well as the markets.

Investors and businessmen at home and international lenders from abroad made it clear in the fall and winter of 2023 that they wanted to see elections before they would even seriously talk about committing money here.

Despite the hindrances, the voters went to the polls on February 8 2024.

With the elections now over and a new government in place, it is time to look forward and hope that the future is more stable.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

Yousuf Sajjad

The writer is a journalist and editor. His work can be found at www.yousufsajjad.com.

Comments

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KU Mar 05, 2024 07:05pm
Same old coalition and exuberance of authoritarian regime to know-all, will stumble on to more economic chaos and problems for people. They cannot see beyond their interest or fear point of no return.
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