Fast changing political scenario

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AS the political crisis triggered by the move of the opposition to de-seat the government through no-confidence motion entered the decisive phase with the formal tabling of the motion by leader of the opposition Mian Shahbaz Sharif on Monday, the day witnessed major upsets that are likely to influence the existing scenario on the D-day.

PML(Q) leader Ch Pervez Elahi, who was offered the lucrative portfolio of chief minister Punjab by the opposition side a day earlier, received a similar offer from Prime Minister Imran Khan and decided to put his party’s weight behind the government in the ongoing tug-of-war for power.

In another major development, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) also took a final stand and joined the ranks of the opposition saying goodbye to its alliance with the government.

Presently, the match is apparently stuck and the decision of the MQM(P) and interpretation of the defection clause of the Constitution by the Supreme Court might make the situation clear.

As for the PML(Q), in fact, Ch.Pervez Elahi had a clear tilt towards the government from the very beginning and used his contacts and meetings with the opposition as a bargaining chip for securing maximum benefits from the PTI government.

He made some sarcastic remarks about the Prime Minister but his major grievance was that Imran Khan himself has not directly talked to the PML(Q) leadership for resolution of the differences.

The Prime Minister made the decision to get resignation of incumbent Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and offer the slot to Pervez Elahi after it became clear that the CM will have to face a formidable threat after submission of a no-trust resolution against him by the opposition parties apparently with a nod from Pervez Elahi.

However, as things stand today, the government is unlikely to get full benefit of the belated move because of sharp differences of opinion within the PML(Q) as its Federal Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema instantly resigned from the cabinet and announced to cast his vote against the Prime Minister.

There were also reports of serious differences within the Chaudhry family on the issue of siding with the government or the opposition.

No doubt, Ch.Pervez Elahi is a seasoned politician and has a grip on provincial politics but it would be a tough task for him to secure the required majority if there was no patch up with Tareen and Aleem groups, that are likely to be pampered by the opposition in the given situation.

If the issue of dissidents is kept aside, the opposition is short of two numbers (one PPP MNA is out of the country and unlikely to return for fear of arrest and Ali Wazir is behind bars and the Speaker never listened to the plea of the opposition for his production order).

As for dissidents, the government is trying to win them back and might succeed to some extent but the threat would be still there as a majority of them might not opt to return given what happened to them during the intervening period and their future political career in PTI.

In case the Supreme Court concludes, as is the opinion of an overwhelming majority of constitutional and legal experts, that the disqualification would be for the existing term, the dissident might take the risk of casting their vote on the no-confidence motion ignoring party directive.

However, in case the disqualification is for life as is desired by the government, they might not vote but can still pose difficulties for the government by tendering resignations, denying the ruling party its numerical majority in the lower house.

In that case, the political crisis would linger on for months due to legal implications and political moves of different players including possibility of by-elections if and when the Speaker decides to transmit their resignations to the Election Commission.

Such a scenario would not be in the interest of the country as already the crisis is impacting upon the stock exchange and the rupee has shed its more worth sparking another wave of inflation, which is the real concern of the masses.

The Prime Minister has already mobilized his workers and supporters through country-wide rallies and the opposition is also demanding fresh elections.

It would, therefore, be appropriate if the government listens to the advice of Sheikh Rashid Ahmad who has proposed early polls after presenting a people-friendly budget.

 

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