Grim prospects ahead for PM

Irrespective of dissenters’s fate  

Two of the hotly debated issues concerning the no confidence move were settled on Monday by the Supreme Court. The first was related to the presence of the crowds that were invited to the Red Zone by the government and the opposition, and the other relating to the PM’s avowed powers to disqualify the PTI legislators from voting. Both the issues had been created by government supporters. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had warned that those who wanted to vote for the no-trust motion would have to pass through a million-strong crowd of PTI supporters on their way to and from Parliament. The PTI side was also twisting Article 63-A to argue that the party head could declare that the dissident MNAs had defected even before the voting took place and the National Assembly Speaker could then reject their votes. After clarification by the Supreme Court, political rallies called by governmentt and opposition have been assigned places far from D-Chowk. The apex court has also clarified that every legislator would be allowed to vote freely.

Important issues still remain undecided for which a larger bench is being formed. Two issues raised in the President’s reference are of crucial importance. One seeks the apex court’s opinion if the dissenter’s vote can be considered valid. In case the answer is in the negative, dissenters’ votes will be rejected. The other question is whether the floor crossers can be permanently barred from contesting the elections as punishment. If the answer is in the affirmative the PTI dissidents voting against Imran Khan will be out of electoral contests for the rest of their lives.

The Attorney General of Pakistan thinks permanent disqualification is the sole remedy against floor crossing which is a problem faced over the past 70 years by governments, including those by the PPP and the PML(N). Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is one of the dissenters, maintains if there is the issue of life-time disqualification, the dissenters would prefer resigning to be able to contest elections again. This will deprive Imran Khan of 14 legislators. It remains to be seen if ongoing attempts to woo back any of the 14 issued show cause notices succeed. In case three bigger allies, which remain uncommitted, decide to join the opposition the PTI could lose the required majority even if some of the dissidents return to its fold.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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