Monday January 30, 2023

News Analysis: How Imran strengthened PDM

January 25, 2023

By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has limited his politics to courts and street protests.

His decisions of en bloc resignations of PTI members from the National Assembly, and removing his party’s governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by dissolving the assemblies there have cost him instead of his opponents.

On the contrary, Khan’s opposition has been empowered by these decisions which were taken to weaken the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government and pave the way for early general elections.

The PTI, despite having been elected in 2018 as the single largest party, has ousted itself from the National Assembly. The party had announced resignations soon after the removal of Imran Khan government in April 2022 to pressurise the PDM and military establishment for early elections.

The PDM government did not accept the resignations immediately but had delayed them only till recently when Imran Khan wanted to withdraw these resignations to use his party’s power in the National Assembly to oust the Shehbaz Sharif government either through a vote of confidence or via no-confidence move.

The PDM, however, deprived Imran Khan from using his muscles in the National Assembly by accepting the PTI resignations. Now with pro-government opposition, mostly represented by the estranged PTI members, on ground there is no in-house threat left for the PDM government. Neither there is any danger of no-confidence motion against Shehbaz Sharif nor any possibility of the success of vote of confidence if sought by the president.

Besides empowering his opponents at the Centre, Imran has further eroded his own political and administrative authority to the advantage of PDM by dissolving the Punjab and KP assemblies. The dissolution of assemblies automatically entailed the removal of PTI governments in both the provinces.

Politically and administratively, Punjab is critically important for any political party. But Imran himself has surrendered the province to the PDM, whose blue-eyed Mohsin Naqvi is now the caretaker chief minister of Punjab. Imran accuses Naqvi of having played an important role in removing his government in April last year. He dubbed him as the enemy of PTI. Imran now fears that through Naqvi, the PTI will be targeted in the province.

Now against Naqvi’s appointment, the PTI chief has decided to hold demonstrations. The PTI and Pervaiz Elahi-led PMLQ also announced to challenge the appointment in the court of law. Imran had thought that his decision to dissolve the Punjab and KP assemblies would pave the way for early elections but he has ended resorting to street protests and knocking on the door of judiciary.

Ever since the removal of his government in April last year, all political moves of Imran from en bloc resignations from the National Assembly to long marches and dissolution of provincial assemblies, were aimed at pressurising the military establishment to get him early elections by removing the PDM government.

However, because of his direct confrontation with the establishment, initially under Gen (retd) Bajwa and later with the one led by the incumbent Army Chief, Imran now finds his name having been crossed off from politics of Pakistan. If true, this is again a huge disadvantage to the PTI chief and a great plus for the PDM that would love to see this confrontation going on and on for their own political benefits.

The Election Commission of Pakistan is already nothing but a villain for Imran. The PTI chief is also not willing to talk to any of his political opponents who he dubs thieves and dacoits. He wants early elections and demands a new election commission. He would wish to see his choice caretaker set-up in the Centre whenever the general elections are held.

However, despite being the largest political party of the last general elections and an important stakeholder, Imran has surrendered all his legal options on all important political matters to the PDM.