ISLAMABAD: The PDM’s strategy of accepting the resignations of PTI MNAs seems to be aimed at securing both the Shehbaz Sharif government and the ruling alliance’s favourite leader of the opposition Raja Riaz to take critical political decisions in the future.
The PDM, which has been reluctant till recently to accept the PTI resignations and wanted the members of leading opposition party to return to the National Assembly, took a U-turn recently after Imran Khan announced his strategy to oust the Shehbaz Sharif government.
After securing Pervaiz Elahi’s vote of confidence and following the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly, the PTI unfolded its next political strategy to remove the Shehbaz Sharif government by seeking a vote of confidence through President Dr Arif Alvi.
The PTI was sure that Sharif would not be able to secure the vote of confidence. The PTI had also announced to return to the National Assembly to prevent the PDM from forming its government once Shehbaz Sharif was removed. The PTI had also sought the positions of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Parliamentary Leader and office of Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
In response, the PDM top leadership, after swift consultations, decided to accept the resignations of PTI in phases. The purpose was first to secure the Shehbaz Sharif-led PDM government and, secondly, to ensure the continuation of Raja Riaz as the Leader of the Opposition.
Although, on paper Raja Riaz is the Leader of the Opposition, in actuality he is part of the PDM strategy against Imran Khan and PTI. For the next general elections, Riaz has been promised a party ticket by the PMLN, whose president is the incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Whenever the next elections are announced, Shehbaz Sharif will consult Raja Riaz for the appointment of caretaker prime minister. It is believed that such is the understanding between the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition that the PDM’s choice person would be the caretaker prime minister.
Imran Khan and the PTI were also demanding the reconstitution of Election Commission of Pakistan. But here too the intent of Shehbaz and Riaz will matter whether they want any change or will allow the present commission to hold the next general elections.
Background interactions with a key PMLN minister reveal that although the PDM will be fully prepared to contest the elections for Punjab and KP assemblies after the recent dissolution of both assemblies by the PTI, there is some hope within the ruling coalition that the elections would not be held within 90 days. “Something may happen to delay the election,” the ministerial source said. Some of the PDM leaders are already referring to the census issue and the subsequent legal requirement for delimitation of the constituencies for possible delays in elections.
The ECP sources, when contacted, said that as per the Constitution, elections are required to be held within 90 days. Officially, these sources said the ECP holds the same position but there are fears that something may happen to delay the elections.