Pakistan Bulletin

An up-to-date and informed analyses of key issues of Pakistan.


February 2024

The February 8 elections have sprung surprising results. However, regardless of which party forms the government, dealing with economic instability through IMF packages will continue to be the option pursued.

On February 8, Pakistan made history as its citizens cast their votes to choose members for the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies. Though political parties, particularly the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf raised concerns about fairness, the process was largely peaceful, as observed by the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), and many media outlets. We have covered PTI’s reservations with regard to polls in our earlier issues, but it begs emphasis that the absence of level playing field did push the party to field its representatives as independent candidates. The independents won over 93 out of 336 seats in the National Assembly.
No single party won enough seats to govern alone, leading to the formation of a coalition government. This new government is expected to include the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the Mutthida Quami Movement Pakistan (MQM-Pk), and other smaller parties.
However, at the provincial level, clear winners emerged in the provinces of Sindh, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), with the PPP, PML-N, and independents – backed by the PTI – respectively securing majorities. The province of Balochistan presents a more complex picture, with the possibility of a coalition government. In Khyber Pakthunkhwa, the PTI has aligned with the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) to be able to form the government and secure reserved seats for women and minorities – a mandatory requirement to secure parliamentary representation.
The newly elected assemblies are set to convene by the end of February to swear in members and elect key positions such as Speakers and Deputy Speakers.
With economy in focus, all eyes are on the incoming central government’s economic strategy, especially as the current IMF bailout package set to expire in March. The government faces the challenge of making tougher decisions to steer the economy in the right direction, including securing promised international funds following the 2022 floods.
Political instability in Pakistan since April 2022 has significantly impacted its economic stability, creating a prolonged downturn that the nation has struggled to overcome. Despite sporadic signs of resilience, such as the modest recovery in the capital market and a semblance of stability in the Pakistani rupee, the escalating cost of living, particularly driven by inflation and soaring energy expenses, remains a pressing concern for citizens. In particular, the exorbitant cost of electricity has become unaffordable for many, sparking widespread protests against power distribution companies accused of issuing inflated bills. This financial strain has not only fueled social unrest but has also been associated with an increase in reports of suicides and domestic turmoil among the populace. The situation underscores the intricate link between political stability and economic prosperity, highlighting the urgent need for cohesive governance to address the multifaceted challenges facing the nation.
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