Leaving the Houses

Imran Khan plays his last card

The PTI’s Long March ended on Saturday as expected, with a tame dispersal, party Chairman Imran Khan saying he was doing so because he did not want to destroy the peace of Islamabad. He also claimed that the PTI was a party that followed a peaceful and constitutional path. This was belied by its behaviour as recent as its May 25 Long March, when its cadres vandalized Islamabad, and going back to its 2014 sit-in, when again it trashed Islamabad during its prolonged occupation of D-Chowk. The PTI’s actual respect for the Constitution is shown by how its Deputy Speaker subverted it during the vote of no-confidence this year, which he tried to ‘put off’, according to the Supreme Court. However, if its subsequent experiences, including the recent attempt on its Chairman’s life, have convinced it that it should follow the strictly legal and constitutional path, that can only be welcomed. However, it should not be claimed that it has always done so, because history does not bear that out.

Mr Khan announced that his party was pulling out of the Assemblies, and would thus force elections. That is probably not going to work, because if there is no dissolution of the KP and Punjab Assemblies, it would be possible for the opposition to elect a new Speaker and carry on much like the National Assembly, where though the PTI MNAs have tendered their resignations, most have not been verified by the Speaker, and thus by-elections have not been held. As for the Sindh and Balochistan Assemblies, once the resignations are verified, by-elections could easily be held. There is the entirely separate problem of getting Punjab CM Ch Pervez Elahi to follow the PTI’s lead, though the noises he and his son Moonis Elahi have made so far, have been positive. However, while all these individual dramas play out in the provincial assemblies, the clock will continue ticking, and the country will keep on moving towards the end of the assemblies’ tenure. That means that the pressure for premature elections will be dissipated anyhow.

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The PTI must realize that it will have to reexamine its strategy at this point, because it really has nothing left in the cupboard. Even the option of leaving the Assemblies is not a very exciting one. The PTI must also note that it has failed in its primary objective, of preventing a certain individual from becoming COAS, or ensuring that a certain individual reached that position. Therefore, it is possible that it may not get the snap elections it seeks.

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


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