The country’s politics is right back at square one: squabbling political parties trying to either save their assemblies or – bizarrely – break them all for the greater cause of getting more power. In this, Punjab is having a terrible year; the province is right back where it was some months ago: uncertainty once again prevailing over who gets this much prized possession. After Imran Khan’s surprise announcement of quitting assemblies, there have been rumours and conjectures galore. On the one hand is the PTI, which has made a tall claim but is yet to follow up on it. On the other side is the PDM and its allied parties that are said to be considering ways they can preempt this move, chiefly through bringing a vote of no-confidence against Pervaiz Elahi so that the assembly can remain intact. It is unclear which side can win in this game of tag. For now, PML-N MPAs have signed a no-trust resolution to be tabled against Elahi while PML-N representatives have also clarified that no one would wish assemblies be dissolved but that if push came to shove even Governor’s Rule could be imposed. There is also a sense that there would be Punjab Assembly members from the treasury side who might not look too favourably at quitting the assembly.
There is also the question of whether Imran Khan really wants to dissolve the Punjab and KP assemblies immediately. This has been stated categorically by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who has said that ‘coward’ Imran Khan’s party members will not quit the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies. However, the PDM government is not taking any chances and the two men at the centre of the PDM power strategizing, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari, have also met to discuss the current political questions, leading to rumours of a possible sleight of hand once again from Asif Ali Zardari in this new game as it unfolds. While some may be tempted to wonder if perhaps the PDM may be looking to win over Pervaiz Elahi, that seems unlikely with the PML-N never truly having been in favour of depending on its rival in any case. Politics may be the art of the possible but this may be one attainable that won’t happen on both ends.
In all this is also the PTI’s narrative game that seems to be switching in leaps and bounds. From a foreign conspiracy we have now landed at a time when former information minister Fawad Chaudhry is meeting the American ambassador. And it seems a reset with the military establishment too is on the PTI’s cards as Imran’s congratulatory tweet regarding the change of command indicates. Farthest from their minds – both the government and the feisty opposition – though seem to be the people of the country who are living on a knife’s edge as they grapple with inflation, unemployment and poverty as their ‘leaders’ indulge their pettiest political whims. We truly cannot afford this at this time. The economy is in too unstable a position to withstand any more pressures and while the games being played could bring some benefit to the individual parties and their leaders, they will in the end hurt the people of Pakistan, who these parties profess to represent.