PTI government skating on thin ice

Published: 02:24 PM, 11 Jan, 2022
PTI government skating on thin ice
Caption: File photo.
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After tolerating the PTI government for the past 40 months, the opposition parties have now decided to pursue a two-pronged strategy to get rid of the setup headed by the cricketer-turned-politician.  

While parties like PML-N, JUI (allies in PDM) and PPP have already announced to hold protests/long march from their respective platforms, now they also intend to exercise the no-trust option against the prime minister. 

It is said that the new option is being considered after what is perceived as a shift in the thinking of the all-powerful establishment that had brought the PTI to power as a result of the 2018 elections of questionable legitimacy.   

Because of this factor and his own calculations, London-based three-time former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, the final authority for all decisions of the PML-N, has given his party a green signal to try this option as well. 

It was the PPP that had proposed this option many a time for the change of government at the centre and Punjab, but the PML-N had expressed its reservations. They were of the view that in the prevailing situation this option would not bring the desired results. 

However, now the PML-N says that patriotism demands the allies should part ways with the PTI so that a change could be brought about.   

Further details of the strategy would be worked out in the days to come. 

However, Prime Minister Imran Khan and his ministers are confident that the establishment stands by the PTI government and the opposition will fail in its designs. 

The prime minister claimed on Monday that his government’s relationship with the military was “exceptional” and the opposition’s narrative regarding a rift between the government and the military was “dead and buried”. 

At a meeting of party spok­e­spersons in Islamabad, he reportedly said that “civil-military relations are unprecedented these days”. 

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry claimed that the opposition leaders would have to sit on opposition benches for another seven years – implying that the PTI government would not only complete its remaining 20 months of the current term but would also win another five years as a result of next elections. 

Although the long march, as well as no-trust against the prime ministers, are constitutional methods, the latter is more peaceful. 

While exercising this option the supporters of the no-trust move have to establish through a prescribed procedure that the prime minister has lost the confidence of the majority of legislators and, therefore, should step down. 

Public life is not disturbed as a result of the exercise of this option. 

Whether the no-trust motion against the premier will succeed depends on the attitude of the PTI’s allies in the government.  

The National Assembly comprises 342 seats. The prime minister must enjoy the support of at least 172 members to be able to stay in the top office. 

At present, the PTI has 156 seats of its own in the house. It is being supported by the PML (Q) with five seats; MQM seven seats; Grand Democratic Alliance three seats; Balochistan Awami Party five seats; Jamhoori Watan Party and Awami Muslim League one seat each. 

This comes to 178.  

There are four independents in the lower house of parliament. If they are all counted with the PTI, the ruling party’s total strength rises to 182. 

In other words, only 10 more members than the required minimum strength. 

If on any pretext the Sindh’s MQM and GDA part ways with the PTI, Prime Minister Imran will lose the justification to retain his office. 

Likewise, if PML (Q) and BNP say goodbye for any reason, the government will collapse. 

It will not be wrong to say that the PTI government is very vulnerable, skating on thin ice. 

It is surviving due to the support being lent by the powers that otherwise are invisible and have no presence in the house. 

Developments taking place these days indicate that the coming weeks will be very eventful. 

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.