Election talk.

An outcome that had seemed improbable till just a few days ago has started looking increasingly possible after the PML-Q and PTI's unlikely coup in the Punjab Assembly. The nation is again abuzz with speculation over whether we may once more be heading towards an early general election. The PML-N continues to put up a brave face and insist that it is 'ready' to contest by-elections in both KP and Punjab.

However, its choices are not as straightforward as they may seem. One aspect is the logic and logistics of holding early elections for all but a third of the seats usually contested in a general election. Secondly, if elections are held in two provinces only, they can give the PTI an even greater advantage if it gains larger majorities in both assemblies through the by-elections. That would put the PTI in a stronger position to queer the field against the PDM whenever elections for the remaining legislatures are held.

The choices are not great for the PDM, but capitulation is, understandably, also out of the question. This will only mean more political instability in the months ahead unless a middle ground can be found. Given that he has taken a strategic lead, former prime minister Imran Khan should consider declaring his innings and softening his confrontational stance. If he really thinks himself worthy and ready to lead Pakistan for another tenure, this is the time to prove it.

In this respect, it is encouraging to note PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry's proposal to the...

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