The PMLN is certainly on a tight ship, facing the twin challenge of a deteriorating economy and rising political pressure. The people of the country cannot simply sympathise with the ruling coalition because they simply chose it for themselves. They quite literally cited the inefficiency of the PTI government and its failure to sustain the economy while successfully leading a successful vote of no confidence against it. Foreign conspiracy or not, the bad governance under former prime minister Imran Khan’s rule was reason enough to oust it. Meanwhile, PDM had made confident claims to bring the economy back on track using their seasoned team with vast experience in running the country. Little did they know that the mess is far bigger than they expected. One month into power, the PMLN has still not been able to come up with a plan. Maybe, there never was one and there appears to be no way forward either. As the top PMLN leadership runs back and forth to London to seek advice from party supremo Nawaz Sharif, nothing seems to be coming out of it too. The much-needed cut on petrol and oil subsidies was also not announced on the pretext of not burdening the poor folks of the country any further. The PMLN knows that this decision would largely damage its voter base and they would never take such a risk. But what if we continue like this and are defaulted? Nobody here would want to go down the Sri Lankan path at least, for their own sake if not for the country’s. Much of what the PMLN will do now will be for optics and will mainly focus on winning over public support ahead of the elections. This looks similar to PTI coming to power with the tall promises of building a Naya Pakistan but lacking a strategy. Alternately, it only ended up blaming the previous government for leaving the country in ruins and kept crying foul over inheriting a complex economy throughout its four years in power. Now, the PMLN is blaming the PTI for its policies, and the cycle will keep repeating. The only ones to suffer amidst the political struggle are the people. The dollar is all set to plummet to an all-time high of Rs 200; petrol and oil prices are going to skyrocket once the government withdraws the subsidies; inflation will reach a new peak; capital markets will further tumble due to political uncertainty. On the other hand, there are calls for early elections so a caretaker government or a new publicly-mandated setup is able to take tough decisions to revive the country to the path of some sanity and sustainability. But that also does not look practically possible, given the anticipated lack of consensus on appointing a caretaker government, and the financial cost and preparations required by the Election Commission to hold an election. Even if an election is held and a new government is formed, the losing party will still not accept the results, calling it rigged and manipulated, followed by renewed calls for another election. This cycle will also keep repeating. The losers, again, will be the people. The only hope, for now, is IMF agreeing to provide its External Fund Facility to provide some breathing space to the country’s fast depleting forex reserves. For that, the government will have to make some hard choices like tightening fiscal and monetary policies, giving more autonomy to the State Bank, and taking additional taxation measures in the upcoming budget. It largely depends on the negotiations that will be held and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has a tough job on his hands, especially when Pakistan has little room to negotiate, considering the “beggar” and “political circus” that it is. Much of what the PMLN will do now will be for optics and will mainly focus on winning over public support ahead of the elections. This can be a make-or-break moment for the party. If somehow, it is able to stabilise the economy, it will bag the majority of the votes. Conversely, PTI is already doing what it does the best – hyping itself up on the streets. None of the parties, unfortunately, have had the ability and will to do what needs to be done – putting Pakistan on the track of irreversible economic growth. Pakistan is in dire need of structural reforms; the people and the ruling elite would have to swallow a hard pill or the country will always be on the verge of collapse. Increasing the tax base, privatising state-owned enterprises, promoting local industry, and building a knowledge economy are what subsequent governments have failed to do. The focus of the current government is also on bringing about electoral reforms which favour them in the polls and not on introducing a growth model. Dissolving assemblies every few months or years is never the solution. It only leads to political instability which only hurts the economic and social fabric of the country. Perhaps, we need a Vision 2035 to build and sustain a high-growth and low-inflation economy. This should be done above and beyond political and institutional differences but only seems to be a distant dream for now. The writer is an IR scholar and a communications professional. She can be reached at mahnoor. email@example.com and tweets @mahnoorrsheikh.