On March 28, members of the Pakistani opposition introduced a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Imran Khan. It was the climax of weeks of political unrest that had gripped the country. The Pakistani Assembly has been delaying deliberations on the motion in order to give Khan more time, but on March 31 they will finally get started.
Khan has little time for last-minute political manoeuvring and horse-trading because a vote must be held within seven days. How he intends to avoid what appears to be his imminent doom is an intriguing thought.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a coalition of political opponents, and Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) agree that Khan’s coalition partners will be decisive. Both the government and the opposition have made overtures to the minor parties in an effort to win them over, but as prime minister, Khan is in a better position to provide tempting incentives. According to those in the know, the PTI administration is planning to supplies to the Qaumi-Pakistan Muttahida Movement (MQM-P), which has seven seats in the Pakistani parliament, ports and shipping portfolio. Khan’s ally and Punjab Minister Sardar Usman Buzadar resigned so Khan’s former ally Chaudhry Moonis Elahi of the Pakistan-Quaid Muslim League (PML-Q) could take office. The PML-Q has five seats in the House of Representatives. By offering ministries and minister ships in exchange for votes, Khan may be able to woo back PTI opponents and coalition allies.
But Khan isn’t only getting ready for the vote of no-confidence. By preparing for a possible quick election, he is also protecting himself temporarily from a bad outcome. The Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Rashid, has made hints in this direction.
On March 27, in a marathon speech lasting over two hours, Khan accused his ministers of being bribed to vote against him as part of a “foreign-funded conspiracy.” Khan has framed his fight against the PDM as a fight against corruption within Pakistan and for the country’s independence. He believes that the famous will of the Pakistani human beings will convey him returned to strength even supposing he loses the help of parliament.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has stated again that he is committed to passing FATF-related legislation quickly.
The Prime Minister made this remark during a Monday meeting with his Parliamentary Adviser, Dr. Babar Awan.
The Karachi Transformation Plan and other legislative matters, including FATF-related legislation, were on the agenda. The prime minister was updated on the NA and Senate’s proceedings.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, spoke at the event and blamed political indifference for the deterioration of the situation in Karachi. He promised federal funding to support the city’s improvement and indicated that it was on the federal government’s priority list for growth.
Awan praised the PM’s determination to fix fundamental problems for Karachi’s residents.
The prime minister declared last Thursday that the legislation relating to the FATF are a “matter of national importance” and that they will be approved through the Senate at whatever cost.
The senators from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its allies had come to see him, and he had told them that the opposition parties simply work together to hide their corruption.
He insisted that the people opposed to national security legislation will be shown up in public. The prime minister had previously stated that they would not cave to extortion and had reaffirmed that no corrupt leader would be granted NRO.
An attempt by the administration to approve the FATF anti-money laundering (second amendment) bill 2020 in the Senate was thwarted by opposition parties.
Khan’s public comments about India are the most interesting aspect of his approach. While he raised the Kashmir issue at the 48th OIC summit, he hasn’t weaponized anti-India rhetoric in public speeches as much as weak regimes seeking to stay in power. Khan praises India’s ‘independent’ foreign policy in Ukraine crisis, says it buys Russian energy despite global sanctions to help people. Khan compared his efforts for Pakistan to India’s attitude toward Russia. International conspiracy accusations generally target the U.S., not India.
Khan used India’s example to show his willingness to defy external pressure and defend Pakistan’s interests. This helped Khan turn opposition members into Western advocates and divert attention from his ill-timed trip to Moscow, allowing him to expand ties with Russia. Pakistan and Russia have agreed to build a $2.5 billion pipeline connecting Karachi and Lahore.
Khan attempted bribery, lobbying, intimidation and cover-ups. It’s hard to say if he’ll be successful, but that’s unlikely. The MQM-P Coordinating Committee accepted the opposition coalition’s treaty of no-confidence. Farogh Naseem and Aminul Haque resigned on Wednesday as law and justice and IT&T ministers. Khan’s chances are in jeopardy.
Excluding the MQM-votes, P’s the opposition has 169 members and is three shy of the 172 needed to topple Khan as prime minister. The PTI seems to be engaging with the MQM-P. Faisal Vawda returned to Islamabad from Karachi on Khan’s orders to meet with the MQM-P delegation along with Pervez Khattak and Imran Ismail.
The crisis has confirmed certain long-held ideas about Pakistan’s politics and disproved others. Pakistan’s domestic politics remain unstable and fractured, with inadequate adherence to democratic institutions and practices. If Khan remains prime minister, we may see more executive authority abuse. Islam remains the cement of Pakistani leaders to resolve crises of legitimacy and deflect administrative and inflationary challenges. During the 1950s, Pakistanis suffered from excessive defense spending and reduced their welfare expectations due to military operations to save Islam. 70 years later, this trend still exists.
However, Khan has not blamed India for the problems within Pakistan. He has not used the Kashmir dispute as a wedge issue in order to win elections, unlike his predecessors. His government’s inability to react to India’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Section 370 has limited its options Thus, Khan may suffer political fallout if he raises the Kashmir issue more loudly, since he will likely face harsh criticism from the opposition. Further, there appears to be a hawkish consensus in Pakistani politics right now, and India’s presence doesn’t help to polarize the situation.
Instead, Khan has turned to anti-Americanism to portray the opposition alliance in Pakistan as sworn enemies of the state and to provide cover for his government’s failures on economic concerns. A senior government official has revealed that the prime minister received a telegram from Asad Majeed Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, which served as the basis for the infamous letter Khan published as evidence of a foreign conspiracies against his government.
Given the chaos in which Pakistan finds itself, the only thing that can be said with any certainty is that Pakistan’s present is just as unpredictable as its future.
Imran Khan: What led to charismatic Pakistan PM’s downfall. (2022). BBC News. [online] 9 Apr. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-61047736.
United States Institute of Peace. (n.d.). What’s Next for Pakistan’s Politics After Ouster of Imran Khan? [online] Available at: https://www.usip.org/publications/2022/04/whats-next-pakistans-politics-after-ouster-imran-khan.
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