The political landscape of the country has started changing — to the disadvantage of the ruling PTI — after the country’s establishment distanced itself from political matters.
Yousuf Raza Gilani’s victory in the Senate polls despite being the opposition’s candidate is a major setback for the Imran Khan government — and the possible consequence of horse trading allegedly by the Zardari-led PPP. Gilani’s success has been termed a great victory by PDM leaders but it is yet another example of how MPs stealthily change their loyalties either because of money or influence.
If it is not already too late, Prime Minister Imran Khan needs to reconsider his style of politics which so far has been marred by his stubbornness and confrontational style. Imran Khan should also realise that betting on ‘electables’ rather than persons of character would ultimately cause embarrassment to him and result in disloyalty and horse-trading.
The prime minister has now decided to seek a vote of confidence, which in the present situation might be challenging and could be avoided or delayed.
The PTI would be more comfortable if the opposition brings a vote of no-confidence against the prime minister because in such a situation the opposition has to prove its majority on the floor of the house. Never before has any no-confidence motion against a sitting prime minister succeeded. It is unlikely to succeed even if moved by the PDM now.
There is also a suggestion being made to the prime minister that he should dissolve the National Assembly and go for fresh polls. However, the present political situation is not so favourable for the government to opt for fresh polls because of its overall poor performance, the price hike and unfavourable economic conditions. Not only did the recent by-elections results show the ruling PTI government losing popularity, independent surveys also prove the decline in PTI’s support.
After Gilani’s success, the PDM will heighten its pressure on the Imran Khan government, which must now handle the political situation on its own without any possible support from the establishment. It is said that the establishment does not want to be blamed any further for the failures of the government.
With the establishment reluctant to deal with political matters any more, the prime minister will find himself in a difficult situation as he has never shown any interest in interacting with the opposition even on matters of national interest. Instead, he has been arrogantly rejecting the oppositions’ overtures, during the initial months of his government, for consensus policies on the economy, governance and institution building.
There have been instances where even on issues of national importance, the prime minister has refused to sit with the opposition leaders and asked the army chief and DG ISI to have meetings with his political opponents for developing a consensus on such matters.
In this background, the Imran Khan government is faced with a serious political challenge. He has to deal with an aggressive opposition and unpredictable allies besides improving the performance of his government.
This is a really difficult, if not impossible, challenge keeping in view the conduct and performance of the prime minister and his government during the last two and half years. Political instability is now bound to heighten. The situation can be reversed only if the political leadership of the country sits under one roof but it seems this is no longer possible. In the past, Imran Khan was able to reach out to his opponents but now even if he desires to do so he will not succeed. The PDM will now not sit with the prime minister except to discuss a date for a fresh general election.