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March 7, 2021

Confident PM

Editorial

 
March 7, 2021

By attaining 178 votes in the National Assembly, Prime Minister Imran Khan has won the vote of confidence he had voluntarily sought, after a surprise defeat in the Senate election for PTI candidate Hafeez Sheikh who lost to the PDM’s Yousuf Raza Gilani with a number of votes cast either against the party line or apparently spoilt so that they would not be counted. Saturday’s vote of confidence will come as a source of relief to the prime minister. But from now on he must live with the knowledge that there is a group or at least a set of individuals within his party who would be willing to go against the line and vote against him in any secret ballot that may be held from now on; the prime minister should also have paid close attention to the representatives of allied parties that spoke after the vote because their message was rather clear.

So while for now the prime minister can continue his tenure, he must also think about what is happening behind the scenes within party ranks. As he spoke inside the National Assembly, and before the vote began, PML-N leaders attempted a press conference outside parliament, but were disrupted by a group of PTI supporters who had managed to create a bit of a mob within the red zone. In the ugly incident which followed, Marriyam Aurangzeb was kicked by a PTI member, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Musaddiq Malik ended up in a scuffle with the ‘protesters’ and Ahsan Iqbal got hit with a shoe as he attempted to speak. Unfortunately, these scenes were not surprising for those who have been on the receiving end of over-zealous PTI supporters. In the absence of any condemnation by PTI leaders of such shameful behavior, it seems the ruling party is in no mood to change its manner of operating. We would strongly urge the ruling party as well as all other political parties to remember that such behaviour tarnishes the image of political parties and leaves a bad impression in people’s minds about the maturity of democratic practice in the country. And it is inevitable that such behavior always comes back to haunt whichever party indulges in it.

Next up on the agenda is the election for the Senate chairman. PM Imran Khan has already nominated Sadiq Sanjrani, the sitting chairman, for the post – even though the opposition now holds a small majority in the Senate and may name Yousuf Raza Gilani. This would lead to another close contest. In all this, it is important for the PM to realise that more than half of the government’s five-year tenure is gone and we see little on the ground that can testify to the government’s seriousness to fulfil its promises. In these past 32 months, the government has been more focused on the opposition, on curbing dissent, and on imagined or otherwise NROs – all the while the people have been undergoing a crippling financial crisis. It is about time the government got rid of its obsession with past governments and their purported wrongdoings. The foremost among the government priorities should be an economic turnaround so that the people can heave a sigh of relief. We need a performing government now because the primary message from Saturday was the scale of the divide and the toxicity that has entered Pakistan’s politics with no sense of agreement at any point, and an extremely ugly atmosphere in which politics and governance are to miraculously function.