Resignations of Provincial Assemblies are irrelevant; IK may have lost it!
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced the dissolution of the Provincial assemblies. While addressing the culmination of the long march, IK categorically announced their resignation from the Provincial assemblies to ensure early elections.
In Pakistan, direct elections take place on a total of 859 seats. As a result of Tehreek-e-Insaf’s resignations and political withdrawal, 123 seats in the National Assembly, 297 seats in the Punjab Assembly, 115 seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 26 seats in Sindh Assembly and two seats in Balochistan, i.e. a total of 563 seats will be vacant. The leadership of PTI believes that with such massive resignations, the business of the governments will crumble, and the federal government led by PDM will have no other choice except to call an early election.
However, former Prime minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi has reaffirmed that elections will be held on the due date in 2023. Other stalwarts of PDM are also attributing that elections will be held in due course of time.
Now, the most critical question is, will the resignations of the PTI force the new elections? It is crucial to understand that resignations will affect only two legislatures: the Punjab and KPK. In other provinces and the federal government, PDM is in a comfortable position. Therefore, an existing dispensation of PDM shall continue to work in Pakistan. PDM will not be bothered by this resignation announcement as they are already handling it in the federal government. Owing to the centralized system of bureaucracy, they can run the country with two caretaker governments quite easily. The Chief Secretary and Inspector General of Police usually run the provincial government’s functions, and the Chief Minister and cabinet are always the mouthpieces of bureaucracy and police. Then, IK and PTI played their last card and will not let PDM governments function at will.
However, politically, resignations from assemblies have never been a successful ploy. Now, it all depends upon PDM to make a final decision. In a democracy where ethics, law and norms are secondary, power reigns supreme. Then, it is not in the interest of PDM to go for early elections. The resignations relate to two legislatures. The governance in Pakistan has a queer history. Military regimes have run the whole governance system without the involvement of politicians. PDM can efficiently run the affairs of two provincial governments either through the office of the Governor or Chief secretary. Pakistan is colonial governance which is centralized and autocratic. Then, it is a governance of bureaucracy.
The federal government has all control over provincial governance. The federal government can control a province by appointing a Chief Secretary and IG. It is not an exaggeration to argue that a mere eight federal officers control Provinces; the federal government will appoint four chief secretaries and four inspector generals of police and control all the provinces. It is a colonial governance model without political representation and a substitute for the political governance of provinces. This 1915 colonial model is unconstitutional, but the autocratic forces keep it to run the functions from the centre.
Therefore, the decision to resign from the Provincial assemblies will not affect the central government, which can efficiently run the provinces through federal chief secretaries and IGs. Then, the constitutional office of the governor is also there to serve the federal government’s purpose. The former prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, once categorically stated that providing a political vacuum to the opposition is the critical blunder of a political party. When IK is not protesting and doing sit-ins, resigning from the assemblies is a political mistake.
The IK and PTI may dissect the administrative system of the country. The provincial governments are irrelevant, and the federal government runs the provinces’ functions through their officers. The bureaucracy and police are under the command of federal officers, and the latter bother least of the political executive of the province. IK and PTI have given themselves a technical knockout and an administrative defeat. Then, the popularity of IK and PTI is soaring, and he might garner pressure on the federal government or handlers to go for early elections. Yet, resignations from the assemblies are not a forceful poly and will not bother the federal government, especially where there are hardly a few months remaining for general elections.