“Minus One” hot subject of discussions

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 03:17 PM, 4 Jul, 2020
“Minus One” hot subject of discussions
File photo.

“Minus One” formula is a hot subject of discussions in the media these days.

The debate started after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s reported statement that there is no choice (with the powers-that-be) except him and that the opposition leaders would get no relief even if he was on the scene as a result of the “minus one”.

This meant that the accountability process would go on uninterrupted and those facing NAB cases should not expect any relief.

The question is how would “minus one” be possible in the prevailing situation?

There are three ways to bring about a change at the highest level:

First, Imran Khan should step down or be made to step down for whatever reasons.

This will leave the top post vacant after which the ruling coalition will be free to elect a new face.

The other mechanism to replace the prime minister is through a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly.

Blocking the approval of the national budget was the third way of ousting Imran – and along with him his government.

Let’s look into all these possibilities.

There is little chance of Imran Khan tendering resignation. He enjoys the backing of the powers-that-be and is also satisfied with the performance of his government.

In other words, there is no vacancy and hence there is no room for starting the change process.

Since Imran is also president of his party, no party member will dare speak against him on any ground as the party chief has many powers under which he can proceed against such a character.

Recently, some reports suggested that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar aspire for the top office. However, such reports have been refuted by the party.

This means now it is only for the opposition parties to do all they can to throw out the prime minister.

Apparently, the opposition parties are also not “immediately” in a position to show Imran the door. Had it had enough support in the house it would have blocked the passage of the national budget - after which Imran would have lost the justification to stay on any more.

But, that day the opposition parties had only 119 votes against ruling coalition’s 160.

Now the opposition leaders have started arguing that Imran Khan doesn’t have the simple majority (172 votes) in a house of 370.

It would have been a valid argument in case the prime minister was required to show his majority. But in this case, he established that he had more supporters in the house compared to the opposition’s, as a result of which the national budget was approved so easily.

This also establishes that the opposition parties are not in a position even to table a no-confidence motion against the prime minister, which is another constitutional mechanism to oust the premier.

Opposition parties are trying to increase their numbers in the National Assembly before thinking of showing their muscle.

At a time when the establishment is fully backing Imran, it would not be an easy task for the opposition to vote him out.

Although in a society like ours it doesn’t take long for the political weather to change, in democracies governments can complete their term even by a single vote’s majority.

The prevailing situation makes the proposed all-party conference much more important. The event is to be organized in Lahore after the recovery of opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif from corona symptoms.

It will be an opportunity to discuss all aspects of the matter and work out future strategy.

In addition to this the opposition parties are also thinking of bringing people out on streets. The rising prices of various items, power load shedding, ban on PIA flights to a number of countries because of the fake/dubious licences of pilots may be used as fuel for protests.

In view of the strategies being considered both by the opposition parties and the ruling coalition, the coming weeks may be eventful.