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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 509, 12 January 2023

Punjab: Chaudhry Parvez Elahi wins the vote of confidence



With Chaudhry Elahi getting the necessary votes to prove his majority, the PML-Q and PTI should breathe easy.

D. Suba Chandran

Two developments in Punjab today. The first one is chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi securing the required 186 votes to win the vote of confidence in the Punjab provincial assembly. Second, Punjab revoked his earlier denotification order. With this, the latest round of political crisis should be over. It all started with the Punjab governor asking the chief minister to prove his majority and issuing a de-notification order when the latter failed to do so. Chaudhry Elahi approached the court, which reinstated him. 

Now, Elahi has won the vote of confidence, and the Governor has revoked his de-notification order, is the crisis over? Or, there will be another political storm in Punjab?

Consider the following. Until yesterday, the opposition led by the PML-N was demanding that Elahi takes the vote of confidence, and the latter was refusing it. Finally, when he agreed yesterday night, the opposition walked out of the assembly. Elahi exactly got 186 (out of the total 371), which is needed to prove his support in the assembly. Why did the PML-N insist on a vote of confidence, if Elahi had 186? Or, why did Elahi refuse to take it? The answer is simple. Perhaps, the opposition that some in the PTI-PML-Q combine will not vote in favour of Elahi.

The vote for Elahi says, the PML-Q and PTI have the numbers, but a razor-thin one. What will the two parties do now? Imran has been demanding that the chief minister dissolve the assembly. The PML-Q is against the idea; even a section within the PTI is also not in favour of immediate dissolution. There has even been a public spat between the two ruling partners on the issue. The PML-Q has a very small number, just ten out of the total 371, the party is dependent on the PTI. Allowing the junior partner to take the driving seat in the Punjab assembly should have been a tough pill for Imran Khan. Still, national political requirements forced him to ask his man – Usman Buzdar, to vacate the chief minister seat in Punjab to accommodate Chaudhry Parvez Elahi. The latter knows it and has been smart in using the political situation to favour his party’s fortune. If the PML-Q has to perform better in the forthcoming election, it is imperative he takes care of his constituencies and expands it further. Hence, he wants the assembly to continue, and not be dissolved. For Elahi, the crisis is over for now, not only against the PML-N but also vis-à-vis his own coalition partner. 

Is the crisis over for the PTI? Imran has a different calculation; he wants to dissolve both Punjab and KP and use it as a tool to force early elections. What would he demand from the PML-Q and chief minister Elahi? Without Imran’s order, the PTI would not have come to full strength to vote for Elahi. So what is Imran’s next agenda in Punjab?

For the PML-N, what happened in the Punjab assembly yesterday is not something they had wanted. For the Sharifs, they would not stop until they install a chief minister from their party or a chief minister supported by the PML-N. 

So is the crisis over in Punjab? Not yet. The two big parties in Punjab – PML-N and PTI will start planning another political drama. The process should have been already on.

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