ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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No Coups and No-Confidence

Pakistan’s Constitutional Moment

The Shakespearean events leading to the constitutional removal of Pakistan’s populist Prime Minister Imran Khan have entered the fi nal act, but the question remains: Is any of this good for democracy?

Refusing to accept defeat in the 2013 elections, a defiant Imran Khan staged mass-attended dha­r­nas against Nawaz Sharif’s newly formed government. Already a celebrity cricketer, protest from atop a shipping container for months converted Khan into a proper populist. Having drifted in a political wilderness for 22 years, it was clear that his one-man party (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf [PTI]) could not win conventionally and so, the two most potent forces that determine Pakistan’s democratic fate—the army and organised religion—stepped in to fix Khan’s unelectability and aided his elevation to the office of prime mini­ster in August 2018.

Four turbulent years later, on 9 April, this ‘‘hybrid regime’’ dissolved quite dramatically at the stroke of midnight when a no-confidence vote by the opposition parties removed Khan from office. The journey to this point has been characterised by sheer incompetency, economic collapse, near coups, ultimatums, real and feigned foreign threats and most of all, polarising emotions. The endgame remains uncertain but for a country where the military has been a broker and breaker of civilian leaders and parties, one unwitting outcome could very well be the best ‘‘revenge’’ yet—­democracy. 1

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Updated On : 4th May, 2022
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