PTI’s options

Published February 15, 2024

WITH post-election deal-making in high gear, all parties are weighing their options, and the PTI is no different, even though it faces circumstances decidedly different from those of other political formations. While PTI-backed candidates in the national and KP assemblies form the single biggest blocs, Imran Khan’s party is eager to shed its ‘independent’ status and link up with other parties in parliament. Amongst other reasons, the PTI wants to block defections, and to capture its share of women’s and minorities’ reserved seats. Party leaders had said they were looking to ally with the MWM and Jamaat-i-Islami in the national, KP and Punjab legislatures, but this will not be easy. For one, JI’s Liaquat Baloch said on Wednesday that his party was not interested in working with the PTI in KP. There is also the fact that after recounts, JI no longer has representation in the KP Assembly. Moreover, regarding the partnership with the MWM, though the latter is keen to work with Mr Khan, this can only be possible in the National Assembly as the MWM has secured one seat in the Lower House. In Punjab, it has no representation. In KP, the PTI has the numbers to form an independent bloc in the House, and potentially form the government. Regarding its hopes of securing women and minorities’ seats, this may not be possible as per the Elections Act.

Under the circumstances, where the PTI lacks street power to stage protests, its best option is to wage its battles to rectify ‘rigged’ results through the election tribunals and courts. There may be weight in many of its claims of discrepancies on election day; it must now prove these in court. In the National Assembly, the party could play a constructive role as a strong opposition force. It may claim to have a two-thirds majority, but as per the official results, it falls quite short of the numbers needed. There were indeed major flaws in the pre- and post-election process, as well as on polling day. Only if it is successful in overturning the ROs’ decisions in a significant number of seats and improving its numerical strength can the PTI think of ousting the PML-N-led government inside parliament. Otherwise, the PTI dream of again forming the government at the Centre will have to wait.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2024

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