Linking snap elections with army reshuffle ‘unrealistic’

PML-N's own lawmaker says opposition’s will to act has been replaced by a fatalist wait for a ‘miracle’


Rizwan Shehzad   October 10, 2021
Federal ministers Shibli Faraz and Fawadh Chaudhry addressing a presser in Islamabad on March 14, 2021. PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD:

The ruling party denounced on Saturday Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) demand for early elections as “ridiculous”, asserting that only the government’s choice mattered in determining whether snap elections were necessary, and not the opposition’s.

However, to add insult to injury, the demand was also met with suspicion within the party’s own ranks. A lawmaker belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) agreed that the call for early elections was “unrealistic”, especially because it was being linked with the recent postings and reshuffle in the military’s top brass, among other things.

“It is unrealistic how changes in the military’s high command would merit a demand for holding snap elections in the hope that there will be some semblance of neutrality,” said the PML-N lawmaker, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“In any case,” he added, “a fractured opposition can’t mobilise street power”.

Earlier, social media was rife with speculations after the outgoing ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed attended the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting on Friday, instead of the newly named ISI chief Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum.

Referring to postings and reshuffle in the military’s top brass, top PDM leaders, including PML-N President and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, alleged that Prime Minister Imran Khan had damaged the institution’s reputation by an “improper handling” of sensitive matters more than his Indian counterpart - Narendra Modi – ever could.

“This also means that even for the opposition, returning to power in Islamabad means going via Rawalpindi with full NOC from the Khakis,” the PML-N legislator said.

The lawmaker believed that the will to act in the opposition has been replaced by a fatalist wait for a “miracle” and said that snap election was the government’s prerogative and not the opposition’s.

Govt rebuffs the demand

Hitting back at the anti-government alliance, PTI’s Science Minister Shibli Faraz described the opposition’s demand as “ridiculous”. “They do not even realise the fact that they have not been able to tell the nation that they are the alternative. They are not the alternative,” the minister said.

Referring to the change of spymaster, Faraz said that, “holding snap elections on a particular incident is an immature demand”. He said that the current situation demands more focus on the developments taking place in the neighbourhood instead of heeding an “unnecessary demand”.

“Elections will be held on its time and even otherwise, it’s the government’s mandate to go for snap elections and not the opposition’s,” Faraz asserted and added the ruling party has a lot on its plate for the rest of the term, including electoral reforms to make the election process transparent, credible and free from rigging allegations.

“Demanding elections without electoral reforms is like demanding the next term,” he said, adding elections will take place after electoral reforms are implemented.

PPP’s ‘independent strategy’

Meanwhile, PPP Senator Palwasha Khan said that nothing from the PDM platform was discussed with the PPP and clarified that, “we have our own strategy to play a decisive role in their [government’s] ouster.”

Khan, while maintaining that holding the snap election or bringing a change in the assembly was, in fact, within the purview of the constitution, said that nearly all institutions and the economy have fallen prey to what she termed “incompetence and whims of one person”.

“Opposition has no other political option but to stand on the right side of history, and the people,” she said, adding “we support the ouster of the current govt, through any and every constitutional means.”

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