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Pak Polity: How the Tail Wags the Dog?

In a day of rapid political developments, Prime Minister Imran Khan attempted to turn the tables on the opposition with the resignation of the Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar hours after the opposition submitted a no-confidence motion against him in the Punjab Assembly on March 28.

Ironically the Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) has proposed the name of the Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi as the next Chief Minister of the PML Q. Elahi has been offered the same bait by the opposition thus which side he turns to will decide the fortunes of not just the Punjab Chief Minister but also the prime minister as the PML Q is a deciding vote bank in the no confidence motion. The chief minister cannot dissolve the provincial assembly once the motion is submitted while the speaker is bound to convene the session within 14 days.

PML-Q had also been in contact with the PML-N. PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz and her father the Party Supremo Nawaz Sharif is being blamed for party losing out support of the PML-Q. “Nawaz Sharif and his daughter are being blamed by some leaders in the PPP and PML-N for not showing flexibility in conceding the PML-Q’s demands,” a senior leader in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), who was part of the parleys with the PML-Q, told Dawn on March 29.

It is apparent that in Pakistan the tail – the small parties are wagging the dog so to say.

However the opposition need not lose hope as it seems that a faction of the PML-Q led by teir leader Tariq Basheer Cheema is not happy with the development and claimed that he had resigned from the federal cabinet and would support the opposition in the no-confidence vote.

These developments come after Prime Minister Imran Khan played the foreign card in the large rally in Islamabad on March 27, alleging that a "foreign conspiracy" was behind the no-confidence motion against him.

On March 27, addressing the "Amr-bel-Maroof" (enjoining good) public gathering at the Parade Ground in Islamabad primarily to indicate the huge support that he has amongst the masses even as a No Confidence Motion is pending in the National Assembly, Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed that the opposition's no-trust move is part of an alleged "foreign-funded conspiracy" hatched against his government over his refusal to have Pakistan's foreign policy be influenced from abroad as per the Dawn.

As per the News Pakistan, against the crowd of one million that was said to be objective by the PTI, Islamabad police put the figure at 60,000-70,000 while the Intelligence Bureau (IB) said the number was 26,000 other sources said 35,000 people attended the rally as per the News.

Prime Minister Khan has been under pressure from the West and the EU due to his presence in Russia on the day that country launched the war in Ukraine while he is feeling the slight of neglect by the Biden administration as he has not had a conversation with the US President so far. Mr Imran Khan is also known for his adversarial position against the United States who he has blamed for the current crisis in Afghanistan and for promoting his opponents in Pakistan.

Given recent developments, the decisive factor will now be whether (a) the opposition is able to convince the PML Q to continue to support it by offering more than what the ruling PTI has done at the provincial level in Punjab as well as in Islamabad. (b) Whether the PML Q stays together or is split (c) If other allies of the government follow the PML Q in ditching the opposition or revoke support to the PTI (d) Status of the dissenters within the PTI – the J K Tareen faction and finally perhaps the most defining factor (e) which side the Army takes.

The smaller parties strength in the Pakistan National Assembly is MQM (P) – 7, the PML Q – 5, the BNP – 4 and the GDA – 3. In addition there are approximately 24 to 32 members of the J K Tareen faction of the PTI who are likely to vote for the No Confidence Motion as on March 28th. Thus it is proverbial story of the tail wagging the dog.



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