Pakistan: Imran on the exit; Shahbaz Sharif to replace!

The success of the no-confidence motion depends on whether the allies of Imran Khan will join the opposition to vote out Imran khan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

Muzamal Suharwardy

Joint Opposition in the national assembly of Pakistan has moved a no-confidence motion against Prime minister Imran Khan. The success of the motion depends on whether the allies of Imran Khan will join the opposition to vote out Imran khan. Imran Khan has four big allies that include PML (q) with six seats, BAP with five seats, and MQM with seven seats. There are clear signals that all three are going with opposition and hence Imran Khan is on the exit.

Joint opposition of Pakistan has agreed on the name, Mian Shahbaz Sharif as Prime Minister of Pakistan. He is the younger brother of the ex-Prime Minister, who is currently living in exile in London after being disqualified for life by the Supreme Court in 2017. The momination of Shahbaz Sharif as consensus candidate for the prime minister of Pakistan is seen as the return of Sharif’s in Government. It is expected that Nawaz Sharif will also return to Pakistan once his brother is sworn in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The no-confidence was moved on 8th March, 2022. Under the constitution of Pakistan, the Speaker of the national assembly of Pakistan is bound to call the session of the national assembly in fourteen days after the receipt of the requisition of the session and is bound to have the voting in seven days after the presentation of the no confidence. The Speaker called the session on 25th March as there was an OIC foreign minister conference from 22nd to 24th march 2022.

It is quite evident that Imran Khan will lose the voting and there will be a change of government. Imran Khan came into power with the backing of the military establishment. His strength has been the support of military establishment. However, now the opposition is claiming that the military establishment has gone neutral. Imran Khan has also confessed that they have gone neutral, which he is displeased with, as their neutrality means they are no longer supporting him. It is perceived that allies are also changing camps due to this neutrality. However its time to shift now.

This was evident from the very first day that Imran Khan cannot hold to the power without the help of the military establishment. He used the military establishment to hold power during the four years tenure. But who knew that the controversy on the transfer of DG ISI between the military establishment and Imran Khan in October 2021 will force the military establishment to withdraw their support.

Imran Khan wanted to retain Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed as DG ISI while the military establishment wanted to change him. ISPR issued his transfer orders and posting of new DG ISI but Imran Khan resisted. As under the constitution his signatures are mandatory for the transfer and new appointment of the DG ISI. However later after three weeks of standoff between Imran Khan and military establishment Imran Khan surrendered and agreed to the transfer orders of the military establishment. But the gap created in these three weeks is now resulting in his ouster.

Imran Khan is now accusing foreign powers for his ouster. In his last public gathering in the capital Islamabad on 27th March 2022. He vowed that he has proof that his ouster is a result of a foreign intervention. He showed a letter but did not revealed the contents of the letter. He said that it is not in national interest to reveal the contents of the letter. He is not naming any world power but his hinting toward US. His is not even accusing military establishment for his ouster.

Return of Sharif is a sign that disputed between Sharif’s and military establishment have been resolved. However this is also on the record that Shahbaz Sharif has always been an advocate for reconciliation and good relations with military establishment. He has always raised voice in his party for ideal relations with military establishment. He has always been a symbol of reconciliation. It is believed that this is the reason that military establishment has agreed to his name.

However it is believed that Imran Khan is on exit. It is now a matter of few days. Imran Khan’s all political success has been with the blessing of military establishment. How can he survive without this blessing? This is question everybody is asking. Will he resist or will he surrender. Because it is believed the has tough and hard days to come.

(Muzamal Suharwardy is senior journalist based in Lahore)

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Published: 29 Mar 2022, 2:57 PM