To Move or Not Move

To Move or Not Move


Despite the opposition’s decision to go for a no-trust move against Prime Minister Imran Khan, chances of its success stands remote

To Move or Not Move

The last couple of weeks have witnessed a great deal of political hobnobbing aimed at bringing down the PTI-led coalition government, but people in the know of the unfolding political scenario still see the tabling of a no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan a far cry.

Background interviews with the leaders of ruling party allies and members of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) component parties revealed that the challenge is not just completing the numbers game for a no-trust motion, but the post no-trust motion scenario and how to proceed further after bringing down the PTI-led government is even the bigger problem, which is hindering the execution of the plan.

Bringing a no-trust motion against Imran Khan was originally not on the PDM’s shopping list, and it was also decided in the meeting of the alliance last month that they would continue with their earlier charted protest plan and the holding of a March 23 long march against the government.

However, the matter was taken up again in the meeting of PDM leaders on Feb. 11, and it was agreed that they would go ahead with bringing a no-trust motion against the prime minister, keeping in view the rapidly declining popularity of the government and the growing fissures and cracks within  PTI ranks. Now, some PDM leaders feel attaining a simple majority in the house of 342 to de-seat Imran Khan will be quite easy.

After the Feb. 11 huddle, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also chief of his own faction of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam, announced that the PDM would now go for a no-trust move against the government, but said they would complete their homework first. He also stopped short of giving any final date for the tabling of the no-trust move.


The PDM chief also announced that his coalition partners would be approaching the government’s  partners, as well as the dissident group within the ruling PTI, to seek their support to make the no-trust move a success. Sources in the PDM divulged that Maulana Fazlur Rehman would be meeting Asif Ali Zardari to discuss the coalition’s future moves with him. The JUI-F chief, however, made it clear that along with the no-trust move, the PDM would also continue with its already announced protest plan of the long march slated for March 23 to bring the government down.

Opposition sources claim that the real issue was not to attain a simple majority in the National Assembly to bring down the PTI government; the real issue under consideration and debate is who will be in the driving seat following the dismantling of the coalition government led by Imran Khan.

Sources aware of the deliberations of the PDM meeting held in Lahore on Feb. 11 disclosed that a volley of questions were raised in the meeting, which was also attended by PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif by video-link from London.

Some of the participants in the meeting raised questions about the shape of the future set-up in case the PTI government is ousted. The PML-N leadership proposed that a broad-based interim government should be constituted to make arrangements for fresh general elections, while some other parties wanted to let the incumbent government complete its term.

During the meeting, PDM head Maulana Fazlur Rehman suggested that a no-trust could only be moved when the numbers game would be beyond any doubt, as at this juncture they could not afford to make any half-hearted attempt.

It was decided in the meeting that the PDM would constitute a committee which would meet with the government’s coalition partners as well as the dissident group within the PTI to seek their support for bringing down the government. It was also decided that on the completion of the homework the PDM is currently engaged in doing, they would decide whether the no-trust would be brought first in the Punjab or in the Centre.


PDM sources said that so far the Pakistan People’s Party has not made any commitment about dissolving the Sindh Assembly in case the no-trust succeeds in the Centre. Similarly, the PTI will also continue with its government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, making for a strange scenario, as the holding of elections in the Centre with three out of four provincial governments intact would not be in the interest of any political party.

Sources in the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) said that the party was divided on the issue of the no-trust move and bringing down the Punjab and federal governments led by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. The leaders with a hawkish tendency in the PML-N were of the view that the party should focus on exerting pressure on the PTI from the platform of the PDM and not create a deadlock-like situation to pave the way for some third force to intervene and send the entire political dispensation across the country packing.

These leaders are of the view that with each passing day, the PTI government is losing ground in the public due to their failure to deliver, and dislodging it at this juncture would give it a new lease of life. They also ask if even the opposition parties alliance along with the support of some coalition partners, or with the support of PTI dissidents, are able to bring down the federal and Punjab governments, what would the fate of the rest of the three provincial governments be, considering  the PPP had not given any commitment about dissolving their government in Sindh. They cite the case of the provincial governments in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa, which will in all likelihood, remain intact.  This would make it difficult for fresh elections to be held for the National Assembly from across the country, where three out of four provincial governments will be intact and would obviously influence those elections.


Sources in the PML-N divulged that a group of party leaders led by party President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Shahbaz Sharif, wanted to remove the PTI government both at the Centre and in Punjab at any cost, and Shahbaz Sharif was himself ready to dole out the slot of Chief Minister Punjab to Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi in lieu of the PML-Q’s support for the no-trust move.

Shahbaz Sharif has also proposed the formation of a broad-based government having the representation of all the political parties to run governmental affairs in the Centre and in the Punjab for the rest of the mandated term of the incumbent government.


But interestingly, so far neither the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) nor the Muttahida Qoumi Movement (Pakistan), or even the PTI dissident group led by Jahangir Khan Tareen have made any commitment to the opposition parties’ alliance on the issue of the no-trust move. The PTI allies stand very much with Prime Minister Imran Khan, background interviews with the MQM, the PML-Q and the PTI leaders reveal.

“The opposition claims of ousting the government and making the no-trust move a success are just tall claims. It lacks the number in the lower house,” said one of the allied parties of the PTI.

And when the opposition has repeatedly failed in stopping the government-sponsored bills in the upper house despite enjoying a majority, chances of its success in the PTI-dominated National Assembly appears remote.

Sources in the PML-Q disclosed that the PML-N leadership was even prepared to dole out the slot of chief minister to Ch. Pervaiz Elahi in case of Q-League support for the no-trust motion, but the Q-League is so far not ready to part ways with the PTI. The sources added that the PML-Q – PTI alliance was a long-term engagement, and the PML-Q leadership would not part ways with the PTI for the short-term gain of a chief ministerial slot for just a year-and-a-half. It was against this backdrop that Federal Minister Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, PML-Q central leader and scion of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, had publicly assured Prime Minister Imran Khan that they would not ditch the ruling PTI.

JUI-F insiders said the party leadership was not interested in bringing down the PTI government because after the victory of a large number of their party’s candidates in the local bodies elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa, they wanted time to serve the masses at a grass-root level and to prepare the ground for the party’s victory in the next general elections from the province. So the dissolution of the PTI government is clearly not in their interest.

Hence in the given situation, when both the opposition parties, as well as the government’s coalition partners, have a stake and interest in the continuation of the incumbent political dispensation, any chances of a no-trust motion’s success dwindles considerably, pushing the government into a comfort zone, not because of its performance, but due to the limitations of the opposition parties.







Procedure of tabling no-trust motion


As per Article 95 of the constitution a resolution for a vote of no-confidence could be moved with the support of 20 per cent of the total membership of the National Assembly and require simple majority to get it passed from the National Assembly.

Article 95 of the constitution reads; “(1)A resolution for a vote of no-confidence moved by not less than 20 per centum of the total membership of the National Assembly may be passed against the Prime Minister by the National Assembly.

(2) A resolution referred to in clause (1) shall not be voted upon before the expiration of three days, or later than seven days, from the day on which such resolution is moved in the National Assembly.

(3) A resolution referred to in clause (1) shall not be moved in the National Assembly while the National Assembly is considering demands for grants submitted to it in the Annual Budget Statement. (4) If the resolution referred in clause (1) is passed by majority of the total membership of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister shall cease to hold office.”

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