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Pakistan Opposition, Another Attempt to Topple Imran?

The opposition in Pakistan has been attempting to get rid of the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf government (PTI) for some time now.

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was formed with this purpose and united all the opposition parties but the front did not last as there were differences over resignation by the members of the national and the provincial assemblies after the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) did not agree to the same.

The PDM principal agenda was to force the government to resign by organising massive protests in the streets but this did not work even though large meetings were organised across the country in the last two years.

PPP has now come up with a plan for bringing in no confidence motion in the assemblies to legitimately defeat the government on the floor of the house.

The planned sequence is to test the waters with a no-confidence motion against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and in case successful then challenge Prime Minister Mr Imran Khan in the National Assembly.

There is hope that PML-Q led by Chaudhry Parvez Elahi will support this move with Mr Elahi offered the slot of the Chief Minister of Punjab.

PPP is also in touch with the Jehangir Tareen faction of the PTI with around 30 members of the Punjab assembly and eight in the national assembly who can be wooed away for toppling Mr Khan.

This is the grand plan that was discussed by PPP and PML-N leaders on February 05 after a luncheon meeting in the Model Town residence of PML N President Shahbaz Sharif where he had invited PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.

The PML N Vice President Maryam Sharif was also present during the meeting and has arranged a call between her father Mr Nawaz Sharif presently on medical treatment in the UK and the PPP Co Chair Asif Ali Zardari.

PML N President Shehbaz Sharif claimed that the two parties had come to an agreement that "we will need to use all constitutional, legal and political options" to oust the incumbent government and fix the woes afflicting the country.

PPP Co Chair, Bilawal Bhutto said "We have to cast out Imran if we want to save Pakistan."

“The PPP was always clear about a no-confidence motion against the federal government, but the PML-N had a difference of opinion. But now there has been consensus to a large extent in the party," he said.

“All proposals (floated by the PPP) will be presented before our allies in the PDM for a decision in a few days,” Shehbaz said, adding all “legal, constitutional and parliamentary options” had been discussed in the meeting to send the PTI government packing.

“We have gathered on a single-point agenda: to save Pakistan from further destruction, sending the PTI government home is inevitable. If we do not go for its ouster the nation will never forgive us. This crisis situation has forced us to join hands,” the PML-N leader remarked.

Meanwhile Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) has vowed to continue supporting the PTI at the Centre and Punjab. “Prime Minister Imran Khan is an honest man and has sincere intentions to serve the country and masses,” said Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, senior PML-Q leader and Punjab Assembly Speaker. Reports of Elahi being offered the Punjab Chief Minister’s post were possibly the bait

The PML-Q has ten members in the Punjab Assembly and five in the National Assembly. Usman Buzdar was elected chief minister in 2018 with a thin margin of just three votes with the support of the PML-Q and some independent MPAs as the PTI was runner-up in Punjab.

On the face of it toppling the PTI government in the Punjab or National Assembly is a viable option as the government has a very slender majority while the opposition is in a majority in the Senate.

But the opposition claims that the Establishment that is the Pakistan Army and the ISI have been coercing members to support the PTI in important legislation. Thus, a no-confidence motion is not viable.

Now the PPP has been given a task to seek the support of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) on the no-trust motion as well as disgruntled leaders of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) under Jahangir Khan Tareen apart from others not happy with the Khan government.

An important factor is whether those allies of the government who are likely to support the motion will stick to their stand on the day of actual voting and whether the wily Mr Asif Ali Zardari has sounded out the Army and the ISI on these moves.

For having declared the plan of action to bring down the government the opposition has already lost out on surprise which is a key factor in the maneouvrings for such a political subterfuge and without support of the Establishment this may end up in a whimper.

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