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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 478, 19 December 2022

PDM deliberates alternatives to resist the dissolution of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies



How the dissolution unfurls political instability in the country

Bhoomika Sesharaj

On 19 December, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met former President Asif Zardari, and former Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat to “find” a way to lead the government out of the “quagmire” dealt with by Imran Khan’s announcement to dissolve the two provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. PM Shebaz met Chahudry Shujaat to discuss alternatives to “re-launch” efforts to “woo” Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi to continue as the chief minister of Punjab with the support of the PML-N and the PPP. Additionally, he also said that Shujaat could use his “influence” in the PML-Q to stop them from voting for Elahi in case the “carrot” policy fails to create a stir in the PPP. 

Asif Zardari called on PM Shehbaz and said that the both of them discussed options to prevent the Punjab Assembly from dissolving, adding that the resignation of Elahi would prove to be a “surprise” step by the PML-N to ensure that the assembly would remain intact until a new chief minister is elected. He said that Elahi’s resignation would lead to the “coveted office” being presented to Elahi to elect a person of his choice to be the new chief minister of Punjab. Responding to queries of whether the PML-N would prefer to move a no-confidence motion or inform the governor of a vote of confidence against Elahi, Zardari said that both the options “would be used simultaneously” if all else fails. 


Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa opposition considers governor rule option amid dissolution concerns

The opposition in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assembly stirred into hurried action to prevent the dissolution of the elected house and considered imposing governor’s rule in the province amid Imran Khan’s revelation of 23 December to be the date of the dissolution of the Punjab and KP assemblies. This comes as the opposition parties in the province, the ANP, JUI-F, and the PML-N “suggested” to the government to impose the governor’s rule instead of passing a no-confidence motion against KP’s Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.

In light of these considerations, the PTI dismissed the provincial powerplay and asserted that there was “no justification” for the imposition of the governor’s rule in the province and that the chiefs of Punjab and KP would hand over their signed summaries that would authorise the dissolution to the governor on 23 December, “as per the instructions of Imran Khan.”


The dissolution date a ‘red herring’ for PTI, could complicate matters for PDM

Political observes and opposition leaders reiterated that the announcement of the date for the dissolution could enable the PDM to manoeuvre PTI’s move to assert political dominance in the national assembly and said that if the PDM moved a no-trust motion against the chief minister, the resolution could bar the chief minister from dissolving the legislature until the votings on the motion commence. PML-N leader Ikhtiar Wali said that Imran Khan is infamous for taking challenging “u-turns” when it comes to the implementation of decisions by the party and that his resolve to dissolve the assemblies is “doubtful.” He said that Imran Khan allowed a “willful” space for the government to file a no-confidence motion against the chief ministers and would allow the extension of both assemblies till the next general elections in the country,

Contrastingly, political experts said that “powerful circles” in the country might ascertain their soft power on the verification of the resignations of the national assemblies of the two regions, and would pave the way for an immediate poll season in the country. This comes as Pakistan’s economic crisis directly impacts the PTI and the PDM, and would further complicate matters for the PML-N alliance as the resignations would be adhered to without much question. Imran Khan’s announcement to refer to the National Assembly to validate the resignations also widens the chances of the government to hold early general elections and would push the PDM to cement their popularity in the assembly by holding a barring stance on the resignations. Imran Khan’s decision to move the dissolution date earlier than expected leads to the notion that the stalemate between the government and the PTI would continue and add challenges to the PDM to make an informed decision to stabilise the prevailing critical economic conditions in the country. (Amjad Mahmood, “PDM mulls over options to avert dissolution of Punjab, KP assemblies,” Dawn, 19 December 2022, Umar Farooq, Ehtasham Bashir, “K-P opposition mulls governor rule option,” The Express Tribune, 19 December 2022, “'Powerful circles' may ‘softly’ influence NA resignations,” The Express Tribune, 19 December 2022)

 

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