Pakistan’s election did not bring political stability back; rather, it increased polarization. US specialist

     United Nations/Islamabad, Mar 18 (PTI) A leading US expert in South Asian affairs has emphasised that the recent election in Pakistan did not restore political stability but instead resulted in the rise of polarisation in the cash-strapped country.
     A seminar on the political situation in Pakistan was organised at the United Nations last week by the Muslim American Leadership Alliance, the Dawn newspaper reported on Monday.
     During the post-seminar media session, Michael Kugelman, a leading expert in South Asian affairs associated with the prominent Washington-based think tank Wilson Centre, provided his insights on the political situation in Pakistan.
     Following the February 8 election marred by allegations of vote rigging, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) headed by Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by former foreign minister Bilawal Zardari-Bhutto reached a coalition deal and formed the government. While PML-N party president Shehbaz Sharif was made the prime minister, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was elected as Pakistan’s president.
     This post-poll deal effectively ensured that jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party would not return to power though independent candidates backed by it won the maximum number of seats in Parliament.
     He emphasised that the recent election did not restore political stability, instead, it resulted in the rise of polarisation in the country. He noted that a significant portion of the public questioned the legitimacy of the election results, as well as the new government, the report quoted Kugelman as saying.
     Kugelman also pointed out the popularity of the opposition, particularly Imran Khan and the PTI, despite what he called efforts by the state to marginalise them. He pointed out that this would pose challenges for the new government, which aims to stabilise the economy amidst a tense political climate.
     He suggested that reconciliation between the opposition and the ruling coalition could provide a way forward, but doubted this was feasible in the current scenario, with heightened polarisation.
     He proposed focusing on economic stabilisation as the most practical option for restoring stability, advocating for measures to lower inflation and provide relief to the common man.
     The Wilson Centre scholar also noted that the United States had modest expectations for the election and emphasised the importance of a multi-party presence, despite a disconnect between public expectations in Pakistan and US government objectives.