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Friday January 27, 2023

Winds of change

Reports of cracks emerging within the ruling coalition and dithering inside the PTI

November 13, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan.

ISLAMABAD: The Imran Khan government currently faces challenges like never before amid reports of cracks emerging within the ruling coalition and dithering inside the PTI.

This situation, which has arisen within weeks of the controversy surrounding the appointment of the DG ISI, has encouraged the otherwise divided opposition to work on a possible joint strategy within parliament and outside to oust the government.

The recent defeat of the government in legislative business in the National Assembly, the postponement at the eleventh hour of the joint session sitting of parliament and the tough questioning of the prime minister by the judges in the SC in the APS case have already been seen by many as ‘winds of change’ blowing across the political horizon.

The worsening economic situation, price hike, further devaluation of the Pak rupee against the dollar and the delay in the positive outcome of the government-IMF talks have added pressure on Imran Khan, who sat with his party’s core committee on Friday to assess the present state of affairs and evolve a strategy on how to face the emerging challenges.

The same day, a key face of the PTI’s coalition partner in the centre and Punjab, PML-Q leader Ch Pervez Elahi, called an emergency meeting to discuss the “growing complaints” within the Q-league against the Punjab government of Usman Buzdar. Already, the party’s other coalition partner – the MQM -- had voiced its reservations on the EVM-specific election reform bill that the prime minister and his party wanted to push through in the joint session of parliament convened a few days ago.

There were also reports about the absence or dithering of several PTI members on voting for the election reform bill following which the government had to suddenly postpone the joint session of both the houses. The announcement of this postponement came within a few hours of the prime minister’s request to his party men as well as allies to take this legislation seriously and get it passed with the spirit of ‘jihad’.

Seeing the situation changing rapidly to the disadvantage of the Imran Khan government, the PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto on Friday met Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The two leaders met for the first time after the months-old rift within the PDM that led to the exit of the PPP from the opposition alliance.

Although the PPP has not yet returned to the PDM’s fold, the opposition parties are seen closely working within parliament. Unlike the government, which is facing difficulties in ensuring the presence of the required numbers of its MPs on the treasury benches, the opposition is showing more of its numbers within parliament and for the same reason it defeated the government in a legislative business in the National Assembly early this week.

Not only is the political front heating up and the economic situation worsening to haunt the PTI government, media men, particularly those who have been enthusiastically supporting Imran Khan’s slogan of change, have started owning up to their ‘mistakes’ and ‘biases’. A senior journalist and one of the country’s leading anchor-persons, who is also known for his close ties with the establishment, has also expressed his disappointment over the performance of the Imran Khan government whom he has been supporting all along.

He said that he tried his level best to keep the hopes of the people alive vis a vis the IK government, but now he is getting tired, and the hopes are dwindling.

He issued a warning to the Imran Khan government that his government has sunk into a quagmire and there is a danger of the sinking of the ship before it reaches the coast. He said that the situation under the PTI government is worsening with every passing day. He also referred to last month’s controversy over the DG ISI appointment as a major blunder of the Imran Khan government and said that the Army is still there to support the PM, but the masses are really pressed by inflation. He asked the prime minister to play like a T-20 game of cricket in the remaining period of his tenure, which is now less than two years. Otherwise, he said, it’s time to say goodbye.

There are many who are speculating that in the backdrop of last month’s developments concerning the DG ISI appointment, the Imran Khan government has lost its major support and now it’s a matter of a few months for the present government to depart. Whether these speculations prove right or wrong, the challenges ahead are grave for Khan and his government.

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