Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Giliani’s victory in the Senate election has thrown a giant monkey wrench in the ruling party’s plans for the second half of the current electoral cycle and put Prime Minister Imran Khan in a very tight spot indeed. Still, his decision to seek a fresh vote of confidence from the national assembly is not only the correct way to proceed in a democratic setup but also reflects his conviction about being able to take the bull by the horns rather than make excuses that will not get anybody anywhere. Clearly in this position he needs to prove that he still has the confidence of the House to blunt some of the opposition’s sharpest criticism.
Despite the upset though the PTI leadership wouldn’t be too worried about unity in the ranks. The party’s female candidate was able to win from the capital with a comfortable majority, after all, so even though PTI’s claims about corruption are most likely very justified there is also the likelihood of some legislators expressing unhappiness with the prevailing economic situation by voting against their own finance minister. Yet the vote of confidence is a double edged sword and it is just as likely to cement the prime minister’s position somewhat once again as it is to send him packing.
Either way, the Senate result has given a fresh lease of life to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and all sorts of speculation about the opposition alliance losing momentum, which had been building for a good couple of months now, is going to subside very quickly. It also means that there is no longer any hope of some sort of reconciliation or political settlement between the opposing camps. Instead, the cleavage will widen and the opposition is going to use Yousaf Gilani’s win at every corner as it tries to pressure the prime minister into resigning. Therefore it doesn’t seem as if PTI has any easy options at this point. It must immediately begin to focus on showing results, especially when it comes to the economy and prices of items of everyday use. And that won’t happen till the prime minister begins to show the door to those members of his team that are big on making noise but very small when it comes to showing progress on the ground. Only the fittest should be allowed to survive in the federal cabinet and the process of elimination of those that are not up to the task has to begin at once. Going forward delivery will be key to PTI’s, and Imran Khan’s, survival.