By Irum Saleem
In Pakistan, most prime ministers have been removed either through extra-constitutional or extra-parliamentary means; two have been ousted by judicial action. But there has not been any instance of a prime minister having been removed through a vote of no-confidence. Will be Imran Khan first one or he prefer going home by resigning?
According to columnist Zahid Hussain, the ‘endgame’ of the ongoing power struggle is still not clear.
He writes in Dawn saying “the battle has already gone beyond parliament. The venue has now been shifted, with the Supreme Court having been involved as arbiter in the dispute over the defection rule. Meanwhile, the recent attack on Sindh House in Islamabad and the increasingly aggressive tenor of PM Khan and his cabinet ministers have heightened tensions”
The million dollar question or the most important aspect of this power game is which side gets the establishment’s support?
“Although the speaker has finally called the National Assembly session on March 25, it is not clear if the voting will take place within the time frame stipulated by the Constitution. Whatever the ruling of the apex court may be, it is not going to end the crisis. With the government on the warpath, there seems little hope of the no-confidence vote going smoothly. The stand-off is getting messier, raising the danger of extra-parliamentary action being invoked,” Hussain says and further comments “the unfolding power struggle has brought to the surface the fault lines that have plagued our democratic political process. While parliament has increasingly become dysfunctional, the country has moved towards authoritarianism. The politics of populism has weakened democratic institutions.”
PTI’s Total Reliance on Military Establishment
Hussain says with its complete reliance on the security establishment’s support, the PTI government has never believed in parliament. Its contempt for elected institutions is evident. The delay in summoning the Assembly session is evidence of that mindset. The decision of the security establishment to stay out of the fray has worsened the government’s vulnerability.
The prime minister’s call for a show of strength during the Assembly session is a desperate move to bring elected members under pressure. It reminds one of Donald Trump inciting his supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan 6, 2020 to prevent the transition after his election defeat. The prime minister and his supporters are visibly angry at what is described as the ‘neutrality’ of the security establishment.
But the wiring on the wall is there and how long Imran Khan shies of not reading it. His departure seems imminent and only the manner needs to be decided for it. PAK DESTINY