Why defy the SC?
The PPP must have realised by now that the MQM and PML(Q) had joined the coalition to share power and not to support it in defying the powers that be. Sensing that the two might not be willing to support it, the government had abandoned on Thursday the idea of seeking a vote of confidence for Gilani from the NA. So far, only the ANP has offered full-blooded public backing to the government. That Asfandyar also presented the resolution in support of parliament, government and democracy on Friday makes one wonder if it was just a chance that Ch Shujaat or Farooq Sattar did not volunteer to do it. In the tripartite standoff, the NA sitting has done little to alter the situation on the ground.
The attorney general has rejected the government’s stand regarding the legality of the statements by the COAS and DG ISI. This would weaken the prime minister’s position on the dismissal of the defence secretary, an issue over which reservations were reportedly expressed during Kayani’s meeting with the principal staff officers. While Kayani’s attendance at the defence committee of the cabinet would ensure the continuation of dialogue with the military, there is little likelihood of the gulf created among other things by Gilani’s earlier remarks being reduced. Nawaz Sharif remains determined to change the government at the earliest. There is little possibility of the no confidence move getting anywhere near success as long as the MQM and PML(Q) continue to support the government. The next two steps Nawaz proposes to undertake are collective resignations regarding which he has remained double-minded for long and a long march which is an extra-constitutional measure as it is not visualised in the basic law as a legitimate way of removing the government. Moreover, it could set a dangerous precedent.
Under the circumstances, the best move that the PPP may hope to rely on to complete its tenure is to change its attitude towards the SC. The policy of defiance has to be abandoned. The government has to comply with all the court decisions even if it does not agree with them. What is more, it has to fight the memo case with the help of a more competent legal team.