By Aamir Saeed
A day before Prime Minister Imran Khan faces his toughest challenge yet – a vote tomorrow, Saturday, on a no-confidence motion filed by a joint opposition – political analysts and experts advised the premier to engage in “soul searching” and stay within “democratic and constitutional limits” while planning his next steps.
Faced with what seemed like imminent defeat, Khan dodged voting on a no-confidence motion last week after the National Assembly’s deputy speaker dismissed it on the grounds that it was part of a “foreign conspiracy.”
Khan subsequently advised the president to dissolve the National Assembly and issued a call for fresh elections. The moves were widely called “unconstitutional” by critics of Khan and on Thursday the Supreme Court also declared them illegal, restoring parliament.
Khan allies have denounced the Supreme Court’s verdict and said it was akin to a “judicial coup.”
But political analysts are widely agreed that the court’s ruling was “historic” and Khan should accept it rather than once again try to dodge the vote.
“The decision will have a long lasting impact, it is more than powerful because it was unanimous, and it will be quoted for the rest of Pakistan’s history,” Ajmal Jami, a special correspondent and talk show host at Dunya News, told Arab News.
“This is a victory for the constitution, for democracy, and I hope and believe this will pave the way to strengthen democracy in Pakistan. Khan must accept this gracefully and prepare for the next elections.”
News talk show host Zarrar Khuhro said Khan should engage in “soul searching” after recent political developments, including defections from his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and abandonment by coalition partners. He also said Khan’s accusations of a “foreign conspiracy” to oust him would not help come election season.
“In the short term, the PTI may try to sell this American controversy to the public, but the party may not be able to mobilize a broader public support base through this,” he told Arab News, saying Khan should use his personal charisma to keep the party intact and reach out to the public before the next general elections with a “more formidable campaign rather than relying on unproven controversies.”
Khan should “do some introspection and mobilize the public on genuine issues while staying within the democratic and constitutional limits,” Khuhro added.
Zebunnisa Burki, an editor at The News, said the prime minister and his party should follow a “democratic path” and allow the person with a majority be elected as the new leader of the house.
“Khan and his party should play their active role inside the parliament to contribute to policies and legislation to ease public life,” she added.
Professor Dr. Rasul Bukhsh Rais said the recent Supreme Court ruling was a clear setback for the prime minister and his party, but all was not lost as Khan could still bounce back by mobilizing the public.
“Imran Khan should accept it [the court ruling] gracefully and start his politics as a leader of the opposition in the National Assembly,” he told Arab News.
It would be dangerous for the country and for the PTI, Dr Rais said, “if they tender en masse resignations in the assembly and start [politics of] street agitation.”