The Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan is six months short of becoming the fourth premier of the country who enjoyed at least four years in power.
The political environment in the country has become quite contested and the cricketer-turned politician treads a tightrope.
PM Khan’s predecessor and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif served as premier for four years and 53 days before disqualification by the Supreme Court on July 28, 2017.
Nawaz succeeded former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani who fell in a controversy between his party’s stance and the apex court’s directions on multiple issues during his fourth year in power. A Soviet Union author Boris Pasternak had to choose between the Nobel Prize and his country in 1958 and Gilani between the court and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in 2012. The writer of “Dr Zhivago” and the Pir of Multan both preferred the latter.
Gillani was premier longer than any other person with the record previously held by former and first prime minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, in a single term. Gillani stayed in PM House Islamabad for four years and 86 days. The first prime minister had till then been the the longest serving (four years, 63 days) chief executive of the country before his assassination on October 16, 1951. He took oath on August 14, 1947 on the day of Pakistan’s independence.
Leading political analyst Mazhar Abbas meanwhile has ruled out any threat to PM Khan’s rule.
“If there is any threat to Imran Khan it comes to him from himself,” he believes, pointing out that inflation, unemployment and other economic challenges faced Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). He said the opposition could hardly get him out of power in the prevailing situation.
Political pundits from Suhail Warraich to Muneeb Farooq were also in agreement that the PTI ally government was not facing any serious threat so far.
TV anchor Farooq said the opposition was divided and questioned the success of a no-confidence motion against the government.
A day earlier, Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi also made it clear that his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), was standing with PM Khan. Talking to journalists in his hometown Gujrat, Chaudhry expressed full confidence in the PM, adding that he did not envision any motion against the government in coming days.
Having five seats in the National Assembly and 10 in the Punjab legislature, the PML-Q has been an ally of PTI along with Sindh-based Grand Democratic Alliance, MQM-Pakistan and Balochistan-based Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). The three parties have three, seven and five members each in the lower house respectively.
One-man groups of Shah Zain Bugti’s Jamhoori Wattan Party and Sheikh Rasheed’s Awami Muslim League along with almost ten independents were so far also standing with PTI.
PM Khan’s government makes up a thin majority in the National Assembly but being the single largest party in the Senate with 26 senators, it lacks strength even with the support of allies in the upper house.
The six-member Dilawar group of the independents along with the chairman’s vote provided relief during the recent passage of the State Bank (amendment) Ordinance and Supplementary Finance Bill from the Senate. The Dilawar group sits on the opposition benches.
The opposition leader in the Senate, Gillani, was of the view that expelling the six-member group from the opposition benches would not affect the opposition as it would still retain the 51-member majority in the house of 99.
The joint session of the parliament again brought no threat to the government. The opposition has been mulling options to bring a vote of no-confidence against the national assembly speaker in the first phase to test their strength. But it would be a tricky game – the political circus has been on and is set to decide the fate of PM Khan.