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November 10, 2015

Ayaz’s second win, another loss for Imran

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November 10, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Sardar Ayaz Sadiq begins his second innings as Speaker National Assembly after being re-elected by a clear margin of 268 against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) nominee Shafqat Mahmood who got 31 votes. The result was expected but one wonders if the decision of PTI to contest in a political isolation, where even its allies are not on its side, was political or undemocratic.
It will also be a challenge for Ayaz Sadiq as to how he managed his second innings as the speaker after he was de-seated as a result of the Election Tribunal’s decision, which had accepted Imran Khan’s petition. Ayaz had defeated Imran in the 2013 elections by a margin of over 8,000 votes. In the by-election, he defeated PTI’s candidate, Aleem Khan, by over 2,000 votes. While his victory margin had reduced in the by-election it has increased in the National Assembly.
It may turn out to be a more difficult phase for the Speaker as the next two and a half years are crucial during which Parliament has to take some major decisions including on electoral reforms, nomination of Election Commission members.
Imran did come to the House and cast his vote but he did neither shake hands with the acting Speaker nor his college friend, Ayaz Sadiq.
Leader of the Opposition Syed Kursheed Shah while quoting former prime minister late Benazir Bhutto raised a very important point about consensus on speaker.
The whole atmosphere of the National Assembly on Monday reflected rising political maturity among the parties and the leaders. Therefore, it will be quite a challenge for the speaker how smartly he will conduct the House during the rest of his tenure.
But the political hurdles likely to come in his way from the outside as despite Shafqat Mahmood nice and democratic gesture, his leader, Imran Khan has not accepted him even as MNA though he did cast his vote in the elections.
Imran may continue his efforts to once again unseat him for third time as he has predicted

election in NA-122. Earlier, he had predicted general elections in 2015. But, his problems are coming for his own party and alleys.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) which sided with PTI in the by-election in NA-122 voted for Ayaz Sadiq and its parliamentary leader even praised him for his conduct and personality. PTI’s another alley Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) of Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao also sided with the ruling party.
Firstly, it showed PTI’s internal contradictions that on the one hand, its Chairman Imran Khan termed NA-122 by election electoral fraud and on the other, it has not only participated in the elections but he himself grace the occasions though left after casting his vote.
Secondly, PTI should have contested the Speaker’s election in a more serious manner and not merely as symbolic gesture. Imran himself should have tried to win over parties, if nothing else at least its alleys like JI and QWP. There were also parties and independent who could have voted for him in case he had shown some seriousness.
Thirdly, Imran, if really had wanted to create an issue out of it on the basis of his last press conference in which he had alleged irregularities in NA-122, he could have challenged the elections and boycotted it on the same ground.
Fourthly, with the competition of the process after Ayaz Saidq reclaimed speaker’s slot, PTI and Imran Khan had lost the moral ground of calling NA-122 by-election as electoral fraud and lost opportunity to again challenge the by-election. After all, its candidate in speaker’s election Shafqat Mahmood congratulated Mr Sadiq on his victory.
Fifthly, after a long time there are sign of reconciliation between PML-N and PML-Q as Ayaz Sadiq had also thanked Ch Pervez Elahi for his support who even stressed the need for getting him elected unopposed. It appeared as PML-Q was disappointed with PTI’s role in the LB elections. Now, if Sharifs decided and went for a patch up with Chaudhrys of Gujrat, an interesting political scenario could emerge in the Punjab.
Sixthly, this speaker election further eased the tension between the government and other opposition parties minus PTI.
One man’s party which voted for Shafqat Mahmood was Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad of Awami Muslim League.
This speaker election will have its political impact as it will strengthen the Parliament and indirectly PML-N whose candidate got over two thirds votes even ten more than what Ayaz Sadiq got in 2013.
So, if Imran decided to challenge NA-122 again as he intended to do, it might again trigger a new controversy. But it is yet to be confirmed whether his alleys will support him or not. He has already announced that he would challenge the election in ECP and has even threatened to go to the streets if does not get justice.
In the last a few months, the PML-N has played its cards better than PTI and it has not only managed the support of the PPP but even the other opposition parties have come close to the ruling party.
On the other hand, Imran and PTI’s dilemma has been its failure to bring at least main stream opposition parties around and formed an alliance. Thus, they are on solo flight and confident that people are with them.
Thus the House of 341 has practically divided into PML-N and PTI and the majority of opposition parties have backed Ayaz Sadiq. PTI has faced similarly problems during the days of PPP government when formed president Asif Ali Zardari had kept all the opposition parties minus PML-N on one platform till the completion of his tenure.
One has to wait and see how forcibly Imran would challenge NA-122 and in case he gets relief, it will be quite embarrassing for the PML-N and especially for Ayaz Sadiq. It’s a long way to go but as situation stands today, it is PML-N and Ayaz Sadiq who have an upper hand as Imran is looking for better results in the next phase of local bodies elections.
The writer is a senior columnist and analyst of GEO, The News and Jang.

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