Working of the system after 2018 elections

Published: 01:22 PM, 5 Dec, 2021
Working of the system after 2018 elections
Caption: File photo.
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The 2018 elections would always be remembered in history for rejecting three important political parties (PML-N, PPP, PML-Q that had remained in power in the past, and paving the way for a new party – PTI – that had no previous experience of governance. 

The results were skillfully crafted in a way that the PTI alone was not in a position to form a government because with 156 MNAs it did not have even the simple majority in the 342-member National Assembly. Therefore, it had to join hands with parties that had been inimical to it in the past. Thus, it became totally dependent on the smaller parties’ support from the very beginning. 

The balance was so delicate that the PTI could not survive even for a single day without the support of what can be described as political ‘stepneys’. 

(A stepney is a sparer wheel in a vehicle that is used in case any wheel gets punctured or is damaged for any other reason).   

During the past 39 months, the junior partners developed differences with the PTI many a time, as a result of which the top leadership of the major party had to resort to blandishments for the survival of the coalition.  

Simultaneously, the PTI leadership had to augment its reliance on the establishment to be able to outlive any political conspiracy hatched by its adversaries. 

The developments of the past years have taught the PTI a very bitter lesson – that in the prevailing situation to be a smaller party – or counterweight – is better than the major partner. It has also learnt through experience that to be able to rule comfortably a party must have the majority of its own. 

During the hitherto PTI rule the smaller parties like PML-Q (five seats), MQM (seven seats), Jamhoori Watan Party (one seat) and GDA (three seats) developed differences with the PTI on various occasions, ringing alarm bells for the PTI

It was during this period that the PTI had to take the PML-Q along although in the past it used to brand the latter as ‘dacoits’. 

Young PML-Q leader Moonish Elahi was inducted into the federal cabinet and assigned the portfolio of water resources.  

Undoubtedly, that was the day of great embarrassment for the PTI

Imran Khan, in the past, had also very strong views against the MQM. But it had to take this Sindh-based party along to be able to complete the numbers required to stay in power. 

Over the years the smaller parties have worked out a modus operandi. Whenever they want to get something done which the PTI is averse to, they make some threatening statements or hold a meeting with some party leader intolerable for Imran Khan. 

On Friday, PTI’s allied party MQM’s leader Dr Farooq Sattar called on PML-N President Mian Shehbaz Sharif and discussed matters of national and political importance. 

Both leaders expressed concern over the country's worsening catastrophic economic condition and uncontrollable inflation and called for a change in the country. 

The MQM leader’s utterances are certainly very disturbing for the PTI leadership and the latter will have to do something to address their complaints. However, it’s not necessary that the MQM will join hands with the opposition to oust the PTI government. It’s just a pressure tactic which all smaller allies have been using to get things done.   

Earlier, on Nov25, PML-Q had expressed concerns over the proposed new local government system in Punjab. 

During a Punjab cabinet meeting, the PML-Q ministers expressed reservations over the new local government system and one of its ministers Bao Rizwan even walked out of the meeting in protest after expressing reservations over the new local body system

The PTI and the PML-Q have just ironed out their differences on the subject.  

Now, at least 11 metropolitan corporations 15 municipal corporations and 35 district councils will also be set up in the province under the new local body act.  

Earlier, PML-Q senior leader and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had been quoted as saying that it was getting really hard to go support the PTI government as an ally. 

On November 14, the PML-Q reminded the PTI government how it had helped the latter sail smoothly through the Senate elections in Punjab even without asking for votes. 

“It was the PML-Q that had helped the PTI get its all candidates elected as senators,” Senator Kamil Ali Agha added. 

This forced the Punjab chief minister to explain the PTI’s point of view. 

CM Usman Buzdar said the PTI’s Punjab government had never adopted a solo flight policy and had always given due importance to the ally’s proposals. He said the government would continue serving the masses with the support of the PML-Q. 

It is the Awami Muslim League of Sheikh Rashid that has got the best deal for its cooperation to the PTI. With just one seat in the National Assembly, the veteran leader of Rawalpindi has been enjoying the interior ministry, something he had not even dreamed of. 

This is the 15th ministry of his 35-year political career.  

Sheikh Rashid continues to reiterate his support to Imran Khan, insisting that the PTI would complete its mandated term no matter what the opposition parties’ conspiracies to oust him. 

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.