Monday May 16, 2022

Talk of change

By Editorial Board
January 23, 2022

We are now hearing that the opposition parties have decided after joint discussion to go for a no-confidence move against the government in parliament, possibly followed by a new general election ahead of time. The various talks and denials on this matter have been following us now for months. But some PML-N leaders say that they believe the time is right for change and for the new election, since there would be no point in continuing the few months that the Imran Khan-led government still has left. On the other hand, so far, the PTI has been successful in getting legislation passed through parliament, has recently reported an improvement in economic statistics, and Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has indicated that the PTI setup still has the support of those who really matter (hint: it’s not the people).

Interestingly, the opposition has in the past conceded it can only succeed if the playing field is level and there is complete neutrality. Whether it now believes that this is the case, and it can therefore move forward with its own plans is somewhat uncertain. After all, we have heard these claims made again and again, just as the Imran Khan-led government has promised an improvement within months – only for people to see still high inflation and still more uncertainty. The opposition would naturally need to work together if it is to succeed in enforcing any kind of in-house change, or a new election. Government figures have questioned whether it is capable of this. However, senior leaders of the PML-N say that three key opposition parties, the PML-N, the PPP and the JUI-F are in constant contact and will be able to devise their plans in unison. They also suggest that a number of figures from the PTI, perhaps making up a total of over 20, would back them in any no-confidence move made in parliament. Again, these claims have been heard before and have been proved untrue. We also cannot say what role the institutions which have so often dominated our country are playing and how they will react if there is any movement from the opposition. It is also unclear who the leader would be from the opposition if a new election is to be decided upon, with suggestions repeatedly made in the past few days that someone other than the dynasties which have held power in the past should come forward.

It is always difficult to say what direction the winds are blowing in, as far as Pakistan's politics goes. There has also been talk of setting up a presidential system, a scenario which would completely change the situation and of course change the manner in which the country is run. This completely unnecessary red herring usually props up at some times. For now, there’s a bit of a waiting game – while the people figure out how to live their lives amidst increasing financial challenges, added to now by a looming sense of uncertainty about security given the terror attacks in the country recently.