Pakistan’s politics has entered a new phase of political activity with multiple pieces on the chess board moving at the same time. According to Fahd Hussain, resident editor of Dawn in Islamabad, “the combined opposition musters up its momentum to rearrange the numerical reality of today’s political chessboard and checkmate Prime Minister Imran Khan. Like an orchestra building up its symphony to a crescendo, the opposition is ratcheting up the pressure towards a climactic conclusion by the end of March. Or that’s what they would like us to believe.”
Hussain notes that while the opposition seeks a no-confidence motion it needs “the magical number of 172 in the National Assembly to bring a no-confidence against PM Khan.” For this they would need support from PTI’s coalition partners and for that “The allies’ shifting would simplify the complexity, but in order for this to happen, they would require the famed ‘signal’ which so far is not visible in any substantive form.”
Further, “to break PTI MNAs, the PML-N will need to promise them tickets for the next elections. Although party secretary general Ahsan Iqbal has already stated on record that PML-N is considering this option in constituencies where they do not have their own strong candidates, this too shall require solid guarantees at a time when the government is also using the resources at its disposal to identify these disgruntled members and do what is necessary to keep them chained to the treasury benches.”
Next, “there is little clarity within the opposition camp about what comes next once the in-house change has been consummated. The PDM consultations may produce some convergence of views but the PPP is not part of the alliance and it is a central determinant for such an outcome to materialise. Those among the opposition who prefer the next government to continue till the scheduled elections in late 2023 have been unable to convince the PML-N leadership that this option is favourable to them.”
Finally, “PM Imran Khan is not sitting idle. He has also war-gamed these scenarios. He may not have been successful as a prime minister but he was deadly in the opposition. Will he be deadlier now that he has tasted power once and knows the system from the inside? He will not roll over and play dead.”
What will happen next, we need to wait and watch.