Fissures in Opposition extend sense of relief to ruling PTI
Pakistan is experiencing worst-ever polarization at present because of which the political parties are not willing to trust each other, a situation because of which even those in the opposition are not willing to join hands for their common goals.
The gulf between the opposition parties provides the ruling PTI ample justification to feel relaxed – and even dream of getting another term as a result of next elections that are due to be held in 2023. (According to a credible newspaper the government is thinking of holding early elections – possibly in July, August next year).
Their vested interests are keeping them apart and it’s because of this reason that methodology proposed by PPP Chairman Bilawal to oust the incumbent rulers doesn’t suit the PML-N.
Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Tuesday Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is now left with only two options — tender resignations from parliament or support PPP in bringing a no-confidence motion against Punjab chief minister first and then Prime Minister Imran Khan.
At a news conference, he demanded free and fair general elections in the country arguing that “the masses can no more afford burden of the incompetent government thrust upon them through rigging”.
Utterances apart, immediate fresh elections don’t suit the PML-N in the prevailing situation.
Mian Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam stand disqualified for elections. The future of the father and daughter is also uncertain because of cases pending against them.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza are facing a number of cases, and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has repeatedly claimed that if courts had not been lenient the three-time former Punjab chief minister would have been in jail by now.
In case the courts convict Shehbaz, the PML-N would be reduced to a political orphan with nobody towering enough in the party capable of leading it at the country level and prepare it for polls.
In the absence of any vote magnet, the party cannot afford fresh elections when the rival PTI is determined to bury it deep in the political battlefield.
As for the idea of ousting Punjab chief minister Buzdar and then Prime Minister Imran, it too is not in line with the PML-N thinking.
The party is convinced that Mr Buzdar’s failure to deliver is disappointing the Punjab voters and in the absence of any other alternative in the arena all hopes would be pinned on the PML-N.
Because of this factor the party will like to see Mr Buzdar as chief minister till the next elections.
The PML-N will also not tender resignations from the National Assembly seats because of the establishment’s visible unwavering support to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
And in case such an option is exercised but is defeated, the PTI’s graph will shoot up, which the PML-N will not like as a rival.
This factor makes the no-trust motion against the prime minister unthinkable
The PML-N had examined the no-trust possibility even in January this year.
Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal had then asked Mr Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to "show numbers" to back up his suggestion of a no-confidence motion against the incumbent government, recalling that a similar effort had previously failed.
At a news conference he had said: "We saw [previously] in the Senate where we had the [majority] numbers but [despite that] the no-confidence motion was not successful so there is only one path we should follow, and that is to pursue a decisive long march against this government."
It was a reference to the opposition's failure in passing a no-confidence motion against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in July 2019 when several members of opposition parties had ditched the party leadership by either voting against their own resolution or deliberately wasting their votes.
That Prime Minister Imran Khan enjoys majority in the National Assembly was established a few months ago when he had won a vote of confidence.
He had won 178 votes in the 341-seat National Assembly, against the minimum requirement of 172 votes needed to survive.
He had sought the vote after the defeat of Dr Hafeez Shaikh as a senator from an Islamabad seat, for which the entire National Assembly was the electoral college.
The defeat created an impression that the prime minister did not have majority in the assembly and it was for this reason that the Sindhi leader could not win the seat.
To make the position clear, Imran Khan sought a confidence vote.
After PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif’s frontal attacks against the military and ISI leaderships, the chances of this party returning to power in the foreseeable future are non-existent. It is for this reason that the PPP believes it will replace the PTI whenever the elections are held.
Since the two parties are rivals, there is little possibility of the PML-N agreeing to whatever is proposed by the PPP.