NationalVOLUME 14 ISSUE # 22

Political forecasting and system change

Although the federal government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) presented its first-ever national budget, yet it faced a challenging situation to pass it from the National Assembly, owing to its razor thin majority in the house. In case the PTI government is unable to pass the national budget and there is a lot of possibility of this happening, Prime Minister Imran Khan would have no moral and legal justification to remain in the saddle.


Opposition parties, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), along with other groups, like the ANP, JUI-F and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), have vowed not to let the national budget presented by the PTI government get through the NA. Now much would depend upon two small coalition partners of the government ─ Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) and Muttahida Qaum Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) ─ whether they remain on the side of the government at the time of voting on the budget in the National Assembly. Insofar as the MQM-P is concerned, it would most likely remain on the side of the government. However, nothing could be said with certainty about the behaviour of the BNP-M. The party has serious issues with the major coalition partner, the PTI, particularly regarding the rights of Balochistan and recovery of missing Baloch nationalists. Even if the government would be able to pass the national budget from the National Assembly, it would be with a very thin margin. The situation even would trigger a kind of a political crisis in the country because the PTI would then face a lot of pressure from the inside, particularly parliamentarians, to give them ministerial and advisory slots otherwise they may switch political loyalties. There would also be a strong possibility of the emergence of a forward block within the ruling party which may not toe the party line or respect PM Khan’s decision. In the scenario, the opposition parties could bring a no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan and there would be a great likelihood of the passage of the move. However, a successful no-confidence against PM Imran Khan would not end the political crisis in the country, rather it would aggravate political instability in the country. The opposition parties, even in case of a successful no-confidence against PM Imran Khan, would be facing a daunting task to form their own government, fundamentally due to deep schisms and lack of trust in each other. If the opposition parties are able to form a government, it would be highly unstable and weak and keeping it afloat would be impossible.


In the scenario, when PM Imran Khan would have been removed through a no-confidence motion and the opposition parties have formed a weak government, the logical way forward would be to call new national elections. There is also a possibility that sensing that he no longer enjoys the confidence of the majority of the National Assembly members, PM Imran Khan may dissolve the National Assembly. Even in this case, snap elections would be the way forward. However, it must be noted that constitutionally once a no-confidence is tabled against the leader of the house or prime minister, he no longer can dissolve the National Assembly. And once the opposition parties come to know that the PTI no longer enjoys the majority, they would waste no time to bring in a no-confidence motion against the prime minister.


Under the Constitution, if the National Assembly is dissolved by the leader of the house or in case of no-confidence against the prime minister, no other party or coalition of parties is able to form the government, new elections become a natural corollary. In the new elections, the PTI would go with the argument that during its government it took serious steps against financial corruption, money launderers, tax evaders and perpetrators of economic terrorism. As the leadership of both main opposition parties, the PML-N and PPP, has been involved in the crimes, therefore, they have launched a tirade and campaign against the government and can use ill-gotten money to buy political loyalties and turn the PTI majority into minority in the National Assembly. Therefore, if the people want to bring culprits to justice, they must vote in large numbers for the PTI. This is the only way to put an end to corruption in the country, the PTI can argue.


On the other hand, the opposition parties, PML-N, PPP, ANP, JUI-F, JI and others, would go for probable snap elections with the argument that the PTI and PM Imran Khan were profoundly incompetent to run the government and it just targeted its political rivals instead of bringing stability and sustainability to the state. Therefore, people should not repeat the mistake to re-elect the PTI.


In either case, the PTI would be able to win with a clear majority than in the 2018 elections or the opposition parties singly or together could win snap elections, yet political stability in the country would be highly unlikely. The way PM Imran Khan has so far ruled the country and the level of competence of his ministers and advisers have left a lot to be desired. Therefore, despite the honesty and earnestness of PM Imran Khan to bring stability and development to the country, he could not do so due to the incompetence of his ministers and advisers, coupled with insubordination of the bureaucracy. He would face the same situation if the PTI wins again.


In an event of win of the PML-N and PPP, individually or as an alliance in the next elections, the greatly-tainted leadership of both parties would concentrate on taking to task the PTI and Imran Khan and telling the people that the parties leaders were never involved in corruption but wrongly implicated. They may indulge in more corrupt practices to keep their rank and file happy and intact. The ultimate victim of the situation would be the people and state. Thus, snap elections would be in no way a panacea for the grave issues, conflicts and crisis of Pakistan. The present political system does not have what it takes to address the issues and problems of the state, people and society. If the country is to be put on the right track of stability, peace and development, there is a need of systemic change. The current political leadership sans a few would never like to let go the political system as it has been a source of its sustenance. Therefore, it would be up to the people and particularly the intelligentsia of the country, which would guide and direct the people and mould public opinion that the present political system does not have the wherewithal to address their grave problems. If the people are politically enlightened and know the problems in the system, they would definitely demand system change before the next national elections.