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EDITORIAL: The die is cast. That the opposition will or will not go for no-trust vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan is no longer the case. It has crossed that Rubicon and now it is the game of numbers and this game is bound to have a byzantine touch.

The opposition needs just a dozen or so members of government in the National Assembly to cross the floor and take seats on the other side of the aisle. But will they? This question has no easy answer because nothing can be said with any degree of certainty. Between now and the D-day quite a few presently unpredictable developments may take place.

Even when there was little or no doubt about the opposition’s mind to go for a no-trust vote against the prime minister one didn’t expect that it would come so abruptly. Was there a call from somewhere to the opposition leadership to move ahead with what it has been planning for so long? Or, is it that the opposition leadership was told by somebody that Imran Khan may preempt the no-trust move by exercising his right to dissolve the National Assembly and go for fresh election.

His usual take has been that the opposition is a ‘mafia’ and it would stay calm if its leaders are granted an ‘NRO’. But now, according to his ‘mind game’, the opposition’s move to seek his ouster has been made at the behest of some foreign powers.

Imran Khan is confronting two formidable challenges. Should he remain sanguine that his allies in governance will remain loyal and not join the opposition? And what should he do if some of his party members he believes are on the opposition’s pay list? The prime minister appears to think all his allies are loyal to him.

Little does, however, he appreciate the fact that in a situation like we have the sands of political loyalty shift rather quickly. According to media reports, about two dozen MNAs of his party are in contact with the opposition leadership and are likely to ditch Imran Khan.

That would grievously hurt their party chief, and it would be in violation of democratic spirit and parliamentary practice. Of course if they are less than 20 they would lose their membership of National Assembly, but if the number is greater than 20 they would be treated as a new party.

The question whether or not the Jehangir Khan Tareen group vote against him given the fact that instead of agreeing with the group’s demand to remove Usman Buzdar he stood by the beleaguered chief minister has no answer at this point in time. So far, all five allied parties of Imran Khan-led dispensation appear to be loyal to him, but the commitments of support that they have made to Imran Khan are conditional. Yes, the die is cast but how it will play out one should be reluctant to make any definite forecast.

There is no precedence in our national history that any elected government was removed through a no-trust vote in the National Assembly. So, one would not like to forecast the fate of this move against Imran Khan, but one is also anxious to know what kind of governance framework will emerge following a successful non-trust vote against Imran Khan. Hopefully, during the run-up to D-day the opposition leadership would come up with some kind of post-Imran Khan roadmap.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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