By Sankar Ray
The no-confidence motion, tabled against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led federal government and okayed for debate and voting by the Speaker of National Assembly of Pakistan, Asad Qaiser, has unnerved and enraged the Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi. In a speech at a gathering of the PTI lawmakers of Sindh in Karachi, he targeted the Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari bluntly, “Now my first target, who has been under my radar for a long time, is Asif Ali Zardari” and snapped fingers at the latter for several misdeeds like using police and ‘thugs’ to get people killed, theft, corruption and money laundering abroad.
The PM travelled beyond political etiquette and temper. “Asif Zardari your time has come. You know that after the next three months you will be in jail”. He accused the former President of Pakistan of trying to buy the support of Members of National Assembly, representing PTI. “An MNA of mine told me he was offered Rs.200 million” in lieu of support to the Opposition. The loose-tempered PM called the former PM and supremo of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Nawaz Sharif as ‘braggart and boot polisher’. He also ridiculed the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, saying “Listen Fazlu, calling you a maulana (scholar) is a sin”.
In the 342-member NA, the total Opposition with 163 MNA 84 of PML-N, 56 of PPP, 15 of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan, four of Balochistan National Party, one of Awami National Party and three independent needs more votes to unseat the PTI ministry. The Opposition claims it has been assured of support from 28 lawmakers. Which is why the PM is tensed-up. As per rules, signatures of at least 68 MNAs are needed to table the no-confidence motion. The Opposition got 86 MNAs sign the petition for the motion. .The PTI which has 155 MNA has the support from 23 from coalition partners, including seven of Mutahida Qaumi Movement.
The King Khan as the famous Test cricket Captain who was committed to play with a straight bat and beat the batsmen with swingers directly and the PM appears as a strange self-contradiction. He lacks the moral and political courage to take on a no-confidence motion a common experience in parliamentary democracies. Instead, he resorts to allegations not backed by documentary evidence and papers. “No-confidence motion is their political death,” Khan told PTI workers and branded those who tabled this as a “gang of robbers” as they were claiming after “every two months”. He made no secret of his plan to get them entangled and ‘trapped’. In a threatening tone, the PTI- top boss, said: “My hands were tied, so far. The shackles that were on my hands will be broken” and stated somewhat bumptiously that he ‘has been waging a struggle against these thieves for 25 years” as a commitment to ‘fight for my country.’
The PM met with MQM leaders as also those of Grand Democratic Alliance –PTI allies to reinforce the trust with his government’s allies in the Centre. He was accompanied by Planning Minister Asad Umar, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi.
The no-confidence motion is a grist to the mill of a severe economic and financial crisis faced by the Federal government. The budgetary deficit soared to record high while the trade deficit touched US $ 3.2 billion. The economy is strangulated as never before at least during the last five decades. The government has failed to stick to the commitment to keep the primary budget deficit within limits, agreed upon with the imperatives laid down by the international Monetary Fund. Instead of achieving a Rs 25 billion primary budget surplus, indications are that there will be a primary budget deficit of over 1 percent of the gross domestic product even at the revised base of the economy.
Nor could the PTI reign keep the inflation rate within and inflation will remain high. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Pakistan’s consumer price index soared to 13 per cent in January this year while in December the inflation rate crossed 12 per cent. The government promises the medium-term inflation range between 8and 9 per cent. But the reality is different.
Pakistan has already been in the grey list of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force since June 2018 for failing to check money laundering, leading to terror financing. It was committed to checkmate them firmly by October 2019. But it failed miserably. Financially, the PTI government is in a big mess. The people are suffering and there is disappointment all around with the Imran regime.
The Speaker is to convene the session of NA by 22 March and the voting has to take place between 26 and 30 March. Imran Khan’s ordeal is on. (IPA Service)