Izzat Hayat looks at a weird situation
As was widely predicted Dangerous political situation in Punjab governor has de-notified the CM Punjab for to obtain a vote of confidence. within the stipulated time-frame given by the governor. The situation was getting serious as both sides were openly threatening each other with dire consequences although many observers expected that some middle ground would emerge that will defuse the crisis. It was also reported that intense parleying was taking place in Islamabad and Lahore with many interlocutors trying to save the situation from deteriorating further. Almost all prominent political leaders had assembled in Lahore to break the impasse and remedy the situation. After a grueling period of anticipation of a day and a half, the order of CM’s de-notification was made public a little after midnight even though the document stated that it was prepared at 4 pm on Thursday.
The notification stated that since the CM had refrained from obtaining vote of confidence by 4pm on Wednesday and did not do so even after the lapse of another 24 hours, the governor was satisfied that he does not command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Punjab Assembly, and therefore ceases to hold his office with immediate effect. The order goes ahead and states that consequently, the provincial cabinet stands dissolved. It however added that Ch. Pervez Elahi, whom the notification referred to as former chief minister of Punjab, will continue to hold office until his successor is elected. This is a harrowing situation as it has brought all political stakeholders to the point of collision that may prove extremely harmful.
The problem however is that both PTI and PMLN the majority party in PDM coalition realise that Punjab is the bastion of their respective political supremacy and would so their utmost let it slip away from their grip. In this respect both political groupings are unwilling to concede any space making the situation highly untenable. It might have been rather comfortable to view that the matter will go for adjudication but the frayed tempers on the street may be difficult to control and contain and that is the real worry anticipated by vast segments in public domain.
Almost eight months after the coalition was installed in power in Islamabad, the battle for attaining political supremacy has now boiled down to the real hub of all political activity in the country. As a result Lahore is now in the feverish grip of intensely partisan political struggle that has further plunged the country into deep state of instability. It was quite clear that the regime change affected in April this year was deliberately kept incomplete with many loopholes left wide open in the process and Punjab is widely known to be the biggest hole in the political matrix of the country. Throughout the short tenure of the coalition government, its high-level functionaries were very reluctant to take a shot at Punjab and when they did some time back it was thwarted by a judicial action. Encouraged by the ultimate change in the line-up of the power corridors, the coalition heavyweights have again picked up the cudgels and have mustered enough courage to challenge the Punjab government that is nothing but a very tentative arrangement.
Despite the fledging regime ruling the roost in Punjab it appears that the coalition government is facing plenty of difficulties in rocking the boat of the minority chief minister in the province. The battle has now been touted as a constitutional battle between the federal and Punjab governments, and as it was predicted by many quarters, it is likely to land in the courts of law because the wobbly political elements of Pakistan are singularly unable to decide matters through matter in the country by mutual parleying. It is widely acknowledged that the final decision in the matter is arrived at via judiciary after getting cleared by the quarters that actually matter in the country. In this context, it must be kept in view that the dispute over the previous runoff election of the chief minister was also settled by the courts after the Supreme Court observed in June that a ruling passed by the presiding officer who happened to be the then deputy speaker regarding the rejection of ten votes of the PMLQ polled in favour of the incumbent chief minister.
As is the wont in Pakistan, the situation on the ground is messy and rather confusing as the issue is stuck on the PDM that through the governor of the province, pushed for a no-confidence motion against the incumbent CM and the speaker of Punjab assembly terming such action as illegal. The speaker put forward a two-page ruling pointing out that the governor’s orders were not in accordance with Article 54(3) and Article 127 and added that the assembly is in session since 23 October, one of the lengthiest sessions on record and during its course no fresh session can be convened unless and until the current one ends. With both sides sticking to their respective positions an acrimonious constitutional battle is undoubtedly going to ensue, adding further fuel to the already volatile political situation. No one seems to mind that it is precisely the political uncertainty that is badly depressing the economy of the country.
It was widely debated that what will happen in the case the incumbent CM did not accede to the governor’s instruction about taking a vote of confidence and the result came out late at night when the governor de-notified the CM citing that due to his failing to carry out his instructions he has lost the right to remain in his position. The situation is reminiscent of complications arisen at the time of a no-confidence exercise witnessed in April this year that later compelled the apex judiciary to hold few individuals guilty of violating the Constitution and although at the time they were not proceeded against but it cannot be held as precedent or guarantee that it would not happen next time and such an outcome is surely going to prove disastrous for all the political players.
Along with the feverish political place within the parliamentary annals, a harrowing exercise of testing wills on the streets is also progressing as PTI parliamentarians, supporters and party workers have vowed to keep on protesting against the decision of the governor that they consider is constitutionally unviable.
Quite obviously PMLN also claims Lahore to be its stronghold and would try to show its strength if push comes to shove and this is a perilous situation that is needed to be avoided at all costs. It must be kept in view that the partisanship has permeated within the governmental apparatus and it may not be easy to expect a non-partisan activity aimed at controlling any ugly situation arising out of an impending clash. One sign of the intensity of partisanship was witnessed when the provincial chief secretary followed the instructions of the governor and de-notified the CM with alacrity. The country is already in the throes of crisis with terrorism raising its head again causing intense worries in the length and breadth of the country and this political altercation will add to the instability further. TW