Battle Lines Drawn

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Battle Lines Drawn


The situation in Islamabad is increasingly acquiring ominous portents as both the government and the opposition brace themselves for a face-off

In the thick of a volatile political situation, both, the government and opposition parties are bracing for a showdown, which now seems most likely to take place at D-Chowk instead of  Parliament House,  where a  no-trust motion is pending against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Saner elements in the government and opposition parties can see serious threats to the political dispensation and fear that the manner  in which the leadership from both sides is raising the political temperature, things could plunge into chaos and disorder much before the constitutional exercise of the no-trust motion in Parliament.

“The government is in serious trouble and the fissures within party ranks have added to their woes,” said a senior Parliamentarian while commenting on the situation, adding that the situation has now gone beyond Imran Khan’s control.

Up to now, the government’s coalition partners have not given any firm commitment of support to the PTI government. The coalition’s two supposed main players — the Pakistan Muslim League(Quaid) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan —- are clearly seen sitting on the fence and weighing their options.

The bitterness in Khan’s demeanour and in that of his close confederates depicts their frustration, contend political analysts closely watching the situation, adding that they know things are slipping out of their hands.


Background interviews with some of the ruling party Parliamentarians and sources in the government revealed that despite this situation,  Prime Minister Imran Khan adamantly refuses to bow down to the mounting pressure from various directions,  and will take the matter to its logical conclusion.

In the last couple of meetings with his political and legal aides held in the Prime Minister’s House late Thursday night, various options came under discussion, especially with regard to tackling the PTI Parliamentarians who were likely vote against the party line.

PTI MNAs Raja Riaz, Noor Alam Khan, Nawab Sher Waseer along with over a dozen MPs, including a few women Parliamentarians, are currently lodged in Sindh House in the capital, and are set to vote against the PM in the forthcoming no-trust move. The PTI contends that all these MPs have been heavily bribed by the Pakistan People’s Party to shift their loyalties.

In the meetings at the PM’s House, it was decided that the matter of changing loyalties by the PTI MPs, allegedly for money or other lucrative incentives offered by the opposition parties, would be aggressively projected on the media. On the legal front, meanwhile, the government decided to take steps to bar these turncoats from voting against the party line on the impending no-trust motion against the Premier.

Federal Minister for Information Chaudhry Fawad Hussain asked all the turncoats in the party to resign from their seats as all of them had come into power due to Imran Khan. He cautioned that the government would not let them vote against Khan. He also denounced the opposition for bringing back the ugly business of horse-trading and ‘Changa-Manga’ politics, which had caused irreparable damage to democracy and democratic institutions in the ‘90s.

Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad proposed clamping Governor’s Rule in Sindh to bring an end to the ugly business of horse-trading, but after discussion on the matter it was put on hold as it was feared this move could further vitiate the already tense situation.


Sources in the ruling PTI disclosed that all the party spokesmen were  instead tasked to play up the issue of the PTI MPs taking refuge in Sindh House and trading their loyalties for money and other incentives.  And party loyalists were directed to adopt all measures to stop the turncoats from casting their votes against Imran Khan, and use both legal and political measures to ensure this.

The Speaker of the National Assembly has not yet called for a National Assembly session requested by the opposition parties, but under the rules of procedure and business of the National Assembly he is required to call a session within 14 days of the filing of a requisition. So it is believed a session will be called on March 21, and the voting on the no-trust motion will take place on March 28, a day after the PTI’s ‘million man march’ culminating at D-Chowk.

However, Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said that the session could be delayed for a few days due to the OIC Foreign Ministers’ Council moot and the March 23 Parade.

Meanwhile, it has not been smooth sailing for the opposition parties either, as they are still struggling to win over the support of the PTI’s coalition partners, and have yet to strike a final deal in this regard.

Sources aware of the developments taking place on this front informed Bol News that so far a final agreement has not been reached with the MQM-P or the PML-Q leaders, and PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is still engaged in narrowing down differences with the PML-N and the PPP.

Mistrust between the PML-N and PML-Q still exists, because although the former has agreed to cede the Punjab Chief Ministership to Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, it is with certain conditions. These may not be palatable to the PML-N. Another huddle between PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is expected to take place on March 21 to finalise the agreement.


The MQM-P and PPP meanwhile, have serious differences, and the Pakistan People’s Party is not prepared to accept some of the demands of the MQM-P regarding the port city of Karachi, particularly the one about the city’s mayor’s slot.

The Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) also has serious differences with the PPP, and the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) is also standing on the crossroads and is yet to decide which side to opt for.

Sources in the PDM disclosed that alliance chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman wants to remove Prime Minister Khan with the support of coalition partners, and is not inclined to rely on PTI dissidents to help achieve this goal.

He could be right, because by what is evident so far, winning over the support of the government’s coalition partners and getting them on the same page still remains a Herculean task.

And Premier Imran Khan and his close confidants are not conceding defeat. They are taking the bull by the horns and have launched a counter-offensive by holding mammoth public rallies across the country, pointing out the nefarious agenda of the opposition parties.



Political analyst Imtiaz Gul said that even if Prime Minister Imran Khan were to be defeated in the no-trust motion, the opposition parties would not be able to stay in power for long. If the Prime Minister is ousted by the no-confidence move, he predicts general elections will be held in the next six to seven months. And, he added, Prime Minister Khan has already entered election mode by addressing big public rallies across the country.

Other analysts are of the view that things are heading for a deadlock between the government and opposition, as both sides are not prepared to concede an inch of ground.

The PTI is preparing to hold a mammoth public rally at D-Chowk on March 27, a day before the probable voting on the no-trust motion. And the PDM parties have already given a call to their workers to reach D-Chowk on March 25 to guard their MPs.

The PDM chief has announced that their workers will remain at D-Chowk until the voting on the no-trust motion, and they will provide protection and safe passage to their MPs when they proceed to  Parliament House on voting day.

Given this backdrop, the situation seems to be heading to a clash-like situation, which was rightly pointed out by PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who called upon both sides to withdraw their calls to  their supporters to assemble at the same venue at the same time.

Political analysts maintain things are slipping into dangerous disarray ahead of the voting on the no-trust motion, as both, the government and the opposition parties have dug their heels deep in the ground and are preparing for a head-on collision.




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