Home Editorial Editorial: After Polls, More Problems

Editorial: After Polls, More Problems

The likely formation of a weak coalition government bodes ill for a Pakistan in need of tough decisions to escape prevailing crises

by Editorial

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The 2024 general elections have failed to resolve the political deadlock harassing Pakistan, prompting several political parties and foreign states, including the U.S., to propose “an independent investigation into the claims of election irregularities.” This became inevitable due to the delays in announcing the results, which made them controversial. The split mandate has further exposed politics of unbridgeable rivalries, indicating the formation of an internally troubled weak coalition led by the PMLN and PPP that does little to ease prevailing uncertainty. According to the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), 5.8 million more people voted in the 2024 general elections compared to 2018, though the overall turnout actually declined from 52.1% to 47.6% because registered voters increased from 106 million to 128.6 million.

The biggest concern arising from any coalition required to form government is its potential inability to take tough decisions necessary for economic reform, governance, and foreign relations. The inherent weakness of any such setup would also make it susceptible to external influence from the Army, with observers urging the establishment to use its influence to encourage the formation of a transparent and accountable coalition. It is ironic that when democracy falters in Pakistan, the people turn to the Army—usually maligned for its “martial laws”—to sort things out. It is not beyond the realm of imagination that this course could be adopted if the incoming government finds it difficult to ensure prosperity.

The PTI, or its supported independents, owe their success to youth voting in large numbers, though it is difficult to prove in the absence of age-segregated data. A positive development, per FAFEN, was 2.3 more million women turning out to vote in 2024 as compared to 2018. Another key reason suggested for the PTI’s wins is its effective use of social media, supplanting the role traditional media has played in the past. Unfortunately, the split mandate has ensured trouble—sooner rather than later—with the biggest concern among observers now of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, vulnerable to terrorist onslaughts through the country’s western border, engaging in provincial rivalries that the country cannot afford.

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