In a bid to make most of the precarious situation, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will be weighing all options before opposition parties today (Friday) to formulate a grand anti-government strategy — possibly a vote of no confidence against the country’s premier.
The three options that came up during PML-N’s meeting at the Punjab House on Thursday were a) Vote of no confidence against the prime minister b) resignations from assemblies and c) street protests.
PML-N leaders said that their party would try to gather all parties to pile up pressure on the government to step down and announce early elections. But opting for any one of these or a combination of them will now rest on the feedback and consultation from other parties.
The PML-N, which has long been considering itself ‘the government in waiting’, is now accosting other opposition parties, groups and individuals to converge on ‘minimum-possible common agenda’ against the ruling party.
Those who have been approached and invited for a luncheon meeting today (Friday) with Nawaz Sharif at the Punjab House include Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s JUI-F, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sharpao’s PPP-S, Jamat-e-Islami, Mir Hasil Bizinjo and Mehmood Khan Ackahzai’s nationalist parties from Balochistan that sit on the opposition benches.
In the next phase, PML-N intends to approach the parties, groups and individuals in the ruling alliance and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The parliamentary party and the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the PML-N have mandated Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi and Iqbal Zafar Jhagra – who was also appointed as the new secretary general of PML-N – to make the initial contacts.
Vote of no confidence
While the PML-N leaders unanimously converged at the meeting, it was Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who floated the idea of brining a no-trust motion in the National Assembly against Yousaf Raza Gilani, sources told The Express Tribune. Khawja Asif was present to second him; however, the party remained ambivalent whether to execute the strategy single-handedly since it lacks the numbers.
“We have only 90 members and had we decided to go for a no-trust motion without taking other parties into confidence, the move would surely have backfired since its failure would mean a vote of confidence for the prime minister,” PML-N’s MNA from Islamabad Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry remarked.
As per rules, once a no trust motion fails, a new cannot be moved in the next six months against the leader of the house.
Khawaja Saad Rafiq and some others proposed that the party should opt for street protests and quit the assemblies. However, this option was not viable since the PML-N feared that by resigning from assemblies it would leave the field open for the government.
The leader of opposition in the National Assembly was of the view that immediate focus should be paid to annul the government’s plans of cementing its grip through parliament by approaching other parties and groups.
However, it is still unclear whether this political strategy would go beyond the short-term agenda of getting a vote of no confidence against Gilani or would it lead towards a grand opposition alliance.
“Of the options that the CEC has suggested, Mian Nawaz will announce his final decision within two or three days,” PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said suggesting that the party would be looking for feedback from other opposition parties.
“Bringing change through fresh elections is inevitable. But unconstitutional change is not acceptable”, he said.
PML-N’s CEC also appointed former Sindh governor Mamnoon Hussain and Nawab Changaiz Khan Marri, the elder son of Nawab Mir Khair Bux Marri, as senior vice presidents of the party.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2012.