Day of Reckoning?


Whichever way the no-confidence motion goes and, for that matter, whoever it is tabled against – the PM or the NA speaker, it’s still not clear – it will at least do everybody the favour of finally moving out of the main news cycle so attention can turn to real problems facing the country. PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s spokesperson said late on Wednesday that the motion would be submitted “within 48 hours,” barely minutes after he had told reporters that the day of reckoning would come “soon.” And all this happened not long after PTI vice-chairman as well as foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, mocked the opposition by pleading with it to file the motion before wasting any more time so everybody could see just who the joke was on. So confidence, at least, is very high on all sides.
The opposition is claiming the support of 180 lawmakers in the house, which, if true, gives it a comfortable margin over the minimum 172 required for the motion to succeed. This, it says, is without indulging PTI’s coalition partners, which apparently became problematic beyond a point. Government spokespersons continue to dismiss all this as pure fancy, of course, but that’s only to be expected in a game where whoever blinks first effectively loses the plot. Actions, though, speak much louder than words, especially in high-stakes politics, and some of the government’s actions of late do betray a degree of concern that simply didn’t exist before. The PM’s repeated appearances, for example, tossing out development programs and special loans as if he’s running against the clock for something, raise as many questions as they answer. And the sudden reduction in prices of petrol and electricity, especially, gave the indication that the ruling party might be preparing a narrative to take to the people in case there has to be an election sooner than expected.
It’s also a bit of a concern that nobody’s yet given much thought to the day after. Opposition parties have given no roadmap of their own regarding solving the problems of the people that pushed them to take the no-confidence route in the first place. Surely, they don’t expect all problems to go away with just a change of guard in Islamabad. And, according to reports, agreement on when the next general election should be held, in case the motion succeeds, eludes them even this late in the game. That’s probably why some analysts and onlookers are still sceptical about the motion’s success, or even if it will really be filed. Suffice to say, in such circumstances, that the coming days will only make things clearer.