For any democratic nation, elections matter a lot, but for Pakistan, upcoming elections could be life-saving. The country has been in a state of political chaos for the past two years, and failing to conduct free and fair elections would only make the situation worse. A country that is the fifth most populous in the world is torn by political polarisation and economic crisis. Resultantly, 77% of citizens expressed dissatisfaction with the state of national affairs in a June 2023 Gallup survey. The upcoming elections in such circumstances are of great significance, considering the continuous suffering that the common man is undergoing. Approximately two-thirds of Pakistan’s total population, which is 241 million, are below the age of 30. There is room for a more comprehensive national roadmap that can guide and direct the alienated sense of the masses. The political turmoil has resulted in a faltering $350-billion economy that has been plagued by historical inflation and a weak rupee, hindering young people’s growth prospects. The financial mismanagement has reached its peak, as the country accepted a $3 billion loan program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July 2023 to avoid a sovereign debt default in a standby arrangement that was scheduled to expire this spring.
Pakistan is headed to general elections on 8 February 2024. This election is expected to be a crucial gauge of the power of the political establishment and a true reflection of the will of the people. Recent surveys have revealed that people are less inclined to vote for major parties like Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN). These elections are expected to represent a turning point in Pakistan’s turbulent political history because of how quickly the country’s political landscape is changing. The electorate is left wondering about Pakistan’s democracy’s future in this tense environment. The political scene has been reduced to a battlefield of power politics, which ideally should be a forum for lively discussion and policy development. This situation may call into question the legitimacy and authenticity of the election results, posing a serious threat to the democratic process. In addition, people are questioning the selective implementation of Chapter I and Chapter II of the Constitution of Pakistan, which guarantees the full freedom of thought, assembly, and protection of all citizens.
The decision made by the electorate and the path chosen by the incoming administration will be critical in addressing domestic issues and managing intricate foreign ties.
The incoming Pakistani administration is expected to face a wide range of obstacles inside Pakistan. Growing security worries, chiefly the upsurge in terrorism in areas such as Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have clouded the home front. The stability of the country is seriously threatened by this surge in violence, which has been attributed to organisations like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), and different Baloch separatist organisations. Ensuring national security will largely depend on the government’s capacity to develop and carry out successful counterterrorism policies, especially during the crucial post-election phase.
Also, the financial obstacles are formidable. Pakistan is facing significant challenges, such as the sharp devaluation of its currency, diminishing foreign reserves, and the burden of repaying sizable debts to international organisations such as the IMF and countries like China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The dire circumstances are made worse by the oil crisis and rising inflation, necessitating quick and efficient changes in economic policy. Pakistan’s impending elections represent a critical juncture in the country’s history rather than merely standard polls. The decision made by the electorate and the path chosen by the incoming administration will be critical in addressing domestic issues and managing intricate foreign ties. Pakistan’s capacity to strike a balance between diplomatic engagement and economic recovery while maintaining domestic stability will be put to the test. The results of the elections will have a long-term effect on Pakistan’s trajectory towards development, stability, and a more powerful standing in the international community. With Pakistan at this critical crossroads, the election is expected to usher in a new era of prosperous and efficient governance.
The upcoming elected government has to devise a concrete 100-day plan to fix the financial anomalies that can encompass micro to macro level diagnosis to put the economy on the right track. The government’s economic expertise will be tested as it will attempt to balance fiscal measures, social assistance, and the need to address widespread corruption and unemployment. In addition, the upcoming administration must address the widespread sense of alienation from the federation among common people. Therefore, the new government must work to bring all the provinces on board to think on a national harmonious level. Though these two tasks seem too repetitive, these real problems have gripped Pakistan so tightly that many common people are feeling distrust over the concepts of nationhood, state, and a motherland. The panacea to all the political dissatisfaction and polarisation could be the implementation and respect of the Constitution of Pakistan in full spirit, which is the only way to ensure the making of ‘People’s Pakistan’.