In-house change or dissolution of National Assembly?

ISLAMABAD: June 11 – Parliamentarians listens Federal Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs and Statistics Syed Naveed Qamar presenting the national budget 2008-09 during National Assembly session at Parliament House. The minister presents the Rs. 2010 billion budget and size is 29.7% higher than the size of estimates for 2007-08. APP photo by Afzaal Chaudhry

Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf (PTI) is under immense stress because of falling economy and governance-related challenges. Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team are struggling hard to control the situation but success is not visible. Supreme Court of Pakistan have also questioned the PTI Government’s performance

At the same time, Khan’s team has opened up political front in Sindh where the PTI wants to topple the PPP’s provincial government. It has invited further trouble for the ruling PTI. According to reports, PPP, PML-N, Jamiat Ulema e Islam (Fazal) and Balochistan National Party (Mengal), an important ally of PTI in the Federal Government, have joined hands for an in-house change. The joint opposition, comprising of experienced parliamentarians and the best political wheeler-dealers like former President Asif Zardari, Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif and JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman, might be a lethal combo against the government. In the initial meetings, the joint opposition evolved a consensus over the in-house change of the government which apparently is not a difficult task as the PTI formed its government with a narrow margin of votes. Various reports suggest that several PTI’s parliamentarians are not happy with the leadership and may become turncoats in near future that will make the opposition’s job easy.

In the initial meetings of Joint Opposition, name of Akhtar Mengal, Chief of BNP, was suggested for the slot of prime minister by the PPP leaders but the other parties were of the view that Mengal’s nomination would intimidate powerful quarters because of his strong voice for the missing persons. The subsequent meetings reached the consensus that the Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif would be the Joint Opposition’s candidate for prime minister’s office. And, if he is disqualified in any case by courts, the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would replace him.

On the other hand, Imran Khan and PTI are well aware of the opposition’s intent. They will try to make dent in the Joint Opposition and will try to create forward blocs in the parliamentary groups of PML-N and PPP. If failed, the PTI will try to consolidate its current strength in National Assembly by pleasing the allies to foil no-confidence motion against PM Khan. The horrible scenario which Khan had indicated once in an interview after becoming prime minister might be dissolution of National Assembly and early elections. If PTI senses that the Joint Opposition may succeed in bringing in-house change, PM Khan may advise President Arid Alvi to dissolve the assembly and can go for early polls.

The government-opposition’s tug of war generates several serious concerns. Can Pakistan afford another election just in one year? What if powerful quarters intervene and suspend democracy and the constitution?

In-house change or early election are no solution to the problems. The cure lies in the peaceful and smooth sailing towards political harmony, rule of law, transparent across the board accountability and good governance.

The government and the opposition must think about people of Pakistan and democracy before indulging in any kind of adventurism.

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