Co Chair and former President Asif Ali Zardari of the Pakistan People’s Party [PPP] planned to bring a no confidence motion in the Punjab and National assemblies to legitimately defeat the government on the floor of the house.
The planned sequence was 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. The PPP had obtained the approval of the PML N for this purpose in a luncheon meeting held in Lahore on February 05
The key element was the support of PML-Q led by Chaudhry Parvez Elahi with Mr Elahi offered the slot of the Chief Minister of Punjab.
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.
However Dawn News reported that the Chaudhry’s rejected former president Asif Ali Zardari’s proposal in a two hour meeting with him and termed the plan as a, “political misadventure”.
Importantly the Chaudhry’s were concerned over the PML-Q’s trust deficit with the PML-N leadership
“The Chaudhrys asked Mr Zardari to provide a roadmap to contain the ongoing political mayhem and save democracy and the country,” a source was quoted by the Dawn.
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.
The PPP has come up with the plan for a Non Confidence Motion with the support of the Chaudhry’s in 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 grand plan 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.
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.
PPP has however failed to seek the support of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) on the no-trust motion thus leading to the same being now a damp squib.
Arifa Noor writing in the Dawn believes that the PML N and PPP have, “come together to promise a fairy-tale ending, which will send Khan into a tizzy in his next speech. But other than that, will there be any other outcome, forcing one to ask what are the Noonies and the Pipliyas smoking?”
The wily Senior Zardari however should not be underestimated, what he has up his sleeve next remains to be seen?