Punjab Trust Vote: Game Belongs to Establishment

Punjab Trust Vote: Game Belongs to Establishment
"This was the establishment's game, the game is with the establishment and it will remain in the establishment's hands". Senior analyst Muzamal Suharwardy made these remarks on the Punjab assembly's confidence vote for chief minister Pervez Elahi in the show 'Andar Ki Baat Muzamal Suharwardy Ke Saath'.

The seasoned journalist, who has deep knowledge and well-placed insiders as sources, stated that at least seven 'disgruntled' members of the Punjab assembly who were supposed to vote for Pervez Elahi were "with the neutrals", using former premier Imran Khan's term to refer to the country's powerful military establishment.

"They were the establishment's people. On the morning of the 11th [of January], a deal was struck between the PTI, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and the establishment, as a result of which a call went to those members that they can cast their vote of confidence", Suharwardy revealed.

Suharwardy postulated that the establishment is continuing on its 'script' of weakening PML-N in the Punjab, and strengthening the PTI in Pakistan's largest province by doing so. "Even the PML-N was short four votes" in the Punjab assembly, Suharwardy said.

The establishment has a settlement with Pervez Elahi which has "reduced the distances between them", according to Suharwardy, who said that the 186 votes to secure the confidence of the house were "gifted" by the establishment. Suharwardy also said that the establishment now accepts that the Punjab assembly should be dissolved, but local government elections remain a major consideration.

Even if the assembly is dissolved, it will not precipitate early general elections. It is possible that a caretaker government in Punjab could have an elongated tenure up till October or November 2023, the analyst hypothesised.

Suharwardy said that Pervez Elahi securing the vote of confidence was neither a win for PTI or PML-Q, nor a loss for PML-N or the PDM. This entire episode - of delaying the vote and then having it under judicial 'oversight' - is a victory for the establishment, and reaffirms its central role in important political developments, as per Suharwardy.

Insiders have also told Suharwardy that hopes persist that the Punjab assembly "will be saved" from dissolution.

The show 'Andar Ki Baat Muzamal Suharwardy Ke Saath' airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:30PM only on Naya Daur TV.