ISLAMABAD: Federal capital is abuzz with rumours of an imminent in-house change amidst reports of high level meetings between key opposition leaders and the powers that be.

This was revealed in background discussions with all key players in the country’s political make-up. However, the sources were insistent that the move will post-date the passage of the two controversial bills currently pending in parliament – the money bill and the State Bank of Pakistan amendment bill.

It is critical for the country to get IMF Board approval for disbursement of the one billion dollar sixth tranche release and an agreement has been reached to ensure their passage even though the opposition members have reserved the right to publicly denigrate the two bills, sources further revealed.

The one-point agenda of the two main opposition parties, PPP and PML-N, is to send Imran Khan packing through a no confidence motion but the sticking point between them is who will lead the next government and, of even greater import to PML-N, for how long.

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The success of an in-house change requires the entire opposition to vote in favour of the motion not possible without PPP (56 seats) and PML-N (85) on board together.

Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s residence on Wednesday is being viewed as taking him fully on board with the plan. Fazlur Rehman, president of the nine-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), stated after the meeting that he would put the no confidence motion proposal on the agenda of PDM’s forthcoming leadership level meeting on January 25.

Sources privy to the development further maintained that before meeting with the JUI-F chief, Shahbaz Sharif discussed the proposal with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari during the ongoing session of the National Assembly after getting the go-ahead from PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif.

The support of BNP’s 4 members and ANP’s 1 would also be required to give a grand total of 161 to the opposition – the total strength of the joint opposition in NA.

The Prime Minister has a majority of 178 members with 156 PTI members (including more than 25 who changed loyalties just before or after the 2018 elections and those who may leave the party if requested to do so by Jehangir Tareen) and a coalition with MQM-P (7), PML-Q (5), BAP (5), GDA (3), JWP and AMLP one each.

“We are making concerted efforts with the ruling coalition partners as well as some PTI estranged lawmakers close to Jahangir Tareen. Many of them, have already assured their support and we are confident that we will be able to increase support for the [no-confidence] motion,” a senior PPP lawmaker maintained while talking to Business Recorder on condition of anonymity.

He said that further discussions are underway for a no confidence motions against Speaker and Deputy Speaker National Assembly, subsequent to the success of the no confidence motion against the Prime Minister. Both the PPP and the PDM have announced separate long march dates, the sources said adding that it was not yet decided whether the no-confidence move would be before or after their scheduled long march.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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