All Bets Are Off!

All Bets Are Off!
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is set to witness an eventful few weeks commencing today (Monday, May 15) as important developments will take place on all fronts including political, economic and diplomatic.

The political temperature will only spike further, as the visible judiciary-parliament tussle accentuates, while the PDM's protest in front of the Supreme Court of Pakistan over its "unjust behavior" is set to create more ripples in an already vitiated political arena.

On the other hand, the fate of polls in two provinces, the most consequential Punjab and the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), will also come under deliberation at the apex court.

On Monday May 15, the SC will also take up the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) review petition against the SC order to hold polls in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

It was April 4 when the SC bench had ordered that the Punjab provincial assembly election be held on May 14. It had also directed the federal government to provide Rs 21 billion by April 10 to finance the elections to the Punjab and KP provincial assemblies. Moreover, the apex court ordered the government make available all necessary personnel, whether from the armed forces, paramilitary, or police, for security and other duties related to the general elections.

The ECP had submitted a petition to the Supreme Court arguing that paucity of funds, and a tenuous security situation, made it difficult if not impossible to conduct polls peacefully.

Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also summoned a session of the National Assembly (NA) on Monday, wherein heated discussions over the Supreme Court's behavior are expected to take place on the floor of the house. The lower house of the parliament has already passed three strongly worded resolutions against the SC, and the NA affirmed they would resist any institution's attempts to trespass into their jurisdiction. The Election Commission, being the country's top electoral body, also wrote an official letter to the Supreme Court in the recent past, expressing discontentment at the apex court ignoring the ECP's powers and constitutional mandate.

The Election Commission of Pakistan, which is also a quasi-judicial forum, will itself be hearing important political cases in the days to come. These will directly impact the politics of the country, in expected and unexpected ways.

On the economic front, the government has no option but to take tough decisions related to securing the much-awaited $1.1 billion IMF tranche. Finance minister Ishaq Dar is likely to disclose important developments on the floor of the house, as analysts and experts are exclaiming that the country is on the brink of financial default.

Amidst all these developments, the diplomatic front will see major activity as well. China recently rolled over a $1.3 billion loan to Pakistan, which would have matured on March 23. Moreover, Beijing has now started expressing serious concerns to Islamabad over the slow pace of CPEC projects.

In order to placate China, Pakistan has launched a massive diplomatic campaign to manage its economic crises, and it will magnify the pace and scope of such activities sooner rather than later. At the same time, Pakistan is also trying to appease the US, in its attempts to utilise all possible diplomatic channels to end its prolonged struggle in getting the IMF's funding.