We appear to be moving more into unknown area. Only hours after the province legislature had expressed confidence in him, Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi has signed the summary dissolving the provincial assembly as instructed by Imran Khan. He has also dashed the PML-hopes N’s that he would not want to lose his administration or the opportunity to set up his party for a larger role in provincial politics in the upcoming federal elections by advising the governor to dissolve the assembly.
How will the PML-N, the political party of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and the federal government respond to this most recent development? When these lines were written, it wasn’t clear. It appears that the PML-N has run out of viable options in light of the internal divisions within the party and its pitiful failure to stop the dissolution. Whether or not Imran Khan succeeds in his goal of calling early general elections as a result of the dissolution of the Punjab and KP assemblies, the PML-N in its stronghold of Punjab will find it difficult to win those elections whenever they are held.
There is also another thing to think about. The early dissolution of the provincial assembly will result in a number of legal issues that must be resolved before the two provinces can hold elections.
For instance, general elections must take place at roughly the same time for both the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies. However, polls in Punjab and KP will need to be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the Punjab and KP assemblies, which will cause them to be held out of order from the National Assembly elections — unless Imran Khan’s opponents miraculously agree to his demand and hold the general election concurrently.
Otherwise, it will be necessary to modify the election legislation, either through the courts, a presidential edict, or another such means. Second, and perhaps even more perplexingly, both the Constitution and the election law mandate that the general election be held in both the centre and the provinces while caretaker governments are in place. According to this scenario, what would happen to the governments that will be elected to the two provinces’ provincial assemblies prematurely?
The only way to get out of this pickle is to modify the electoral laws, which can only be done with the help of a working parliament and a politics of discussion and debate.
The superior courts can be consulted as an option, but as nearly every political party has discovered to its detriment, the judges have not been consistently or vehemently in favour of the idea of bringing political issues before the judiciary. But in the midst of this mess, one thing is abundantly clear: the country’s largest province’s government has been severely impacted by the ongoing struggle between the centre and the province.