Who Will Bat First In Pakistan's Political Cricket Match?

Pakistan is setting off on a bumpy ride into the future with one septuagenarian or another at the steering wheel hoping to avert a calamity caused by our ignorant and self-righteous persuasions 

Who Will Bat First In Pakistan's Political Cricket Match?

Say what you may about Pakistanis, but we take two things extremely seriously – politics and cricket. Incidentally, both are currently in full swing, with a lot of confusion clouding both. Major players have not been able to perform the way their fans were expecting them to. Some veterans and team captains have taken a brutal beating at the hands of newcomers whom we had never heard of. Supporters of winners and runner-ups are somehow equally disappointed. There are rumors of friction between members of the same team. New developments every day add to the confusion rather than bring clarity. 

With all that is going on, it wouldn't hurt to take an objective look at where things stand right now and what are the probable answers to the question: "What's going to happen?"

The possible answers are extremely limited. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is going to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Balochistan to a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led coalition (almost), and Sindh to the PPP, while question marks linger over the federal and Punjab governments. 

As far as the federal government goes, we can almost be certain about a few things. A session of parliament will be called on the 21st day following February 8, according to Article 91(2) of the Constitution (something we mostly don't allow anyone to meddle in). The word 'almost' was used in favour of Article 254 of our Constitution (which we have recently fallen in love with). This article, if paraphrased, basically means that time-related constitutional deadlines are to be taken seriously, but not that seriously. (This article was invoked in recent history by PTI Speaker Asad Qaiser, while Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar and Interim Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi owe their extended stints to Article 254). 

Basically, we will most probably see voting for the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Prime Minister on February 29. The irony is unmistakable because it is a day that arrives every four years in the Gregorian calendar, much like governments in Pakistan (Pakistan ascribes a five-year term to governments in the Constitution, but history shows our patience does not last that long). 

Situational Recap:

There are three major stakeholders: the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN), and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). 


The PTI initially claimed victory and aspired to form federal and Punjab governments apart from a government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Later, they announced they would prefer to sit on the opposition benches in the centre or Punjab. They rejected reported advances from the PPP, refusing to ally with them. Later, they changed their mind yet again and allied with the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) in hopes of getting their quota of reserved seats that would help them in their numbers game. 

The PTI is banking on the electoral-rigging dispute cases (virtually all of them) going in their favour to give them the numerical advantage needed to form a government. While nothing in Pakistani politics ever seems impossible, this strategy still falls in the realm of supreme optimism.


Only the PML-N has made its position (almost) crystal clear from the get-go (some would say prematurely). The PML-N believes it is the single largest party in the country, which is why they are entitled to and interested in forming a government in the centre and Punjab. However, we did hear the odd 'dissident' in the form of PML-N stalwarts' advising' the Sharif Brothers (through interviews for some reason) to refuse to form government in the centre and let everyone else take a shot at it.

They have secured support from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and have finalised negotiations with their stated supporter, the PPP — which has chosen to take a rather complex position, which they wish others would see as the moral high ground.


The PPP camp has stated that it won't pursue forming a federal government, nor will it be part of the federal cabinet, but it will support PML-N's candidate for the post of prime minister (leader of the house and thus the government). They qualify this position as their contribution towards bringing stability to the political situation in Pakistan. But they have expressed the desire to hold the office of the President of Pakistan, Speaker of the National Assembly, Governors in all provinces and, according to certain reports, administrative positions even beyond that.

They have also refused blanket endorsement of the probable PML-N government's legislation, arguing that those matters would be taken up as and when they arise. Basically, the PPP seeks maximum perks with minimum responsibility, and their hands are within a choking distance of a probable PML-N government. 

The PMLN-PPP Negotiations:

PML-N, obviously, is not comfortable with PPP's proposal, considering the precarious situation of the national economy and the massive challenges facing the incoming government. This means that PML-N alone would take a hit to their already dwindling political capital because of a number of unpopular but unavoidable price-hikes. This is why their negotiating committees are trying to convince the PPP to take some level of ownership while letting go of some of their demands.

The negotiations appeared to have hit a wall, with the PPP Chairman blaming "someone's" rigidity in the PML-N camp. That rigidity was ultimately overcome on Tuesday, but it remains to be seen what price it came at.

Probable scenarios and possible outcomes:

Scenario 1:

Federal government

The PML-N and PPP find common ground. PPP agrees to certain inconsequential (yet oddly lucrative) ministries that they can later complain about and disown responsibility. MQM and Azads (independents) stay on board.

Punjab government:

PML-N forms an 'almost' stable government in Punjab with Maryam Nawaz as the chief minister with insurance of numbers boosted by PPP's ten seats. In return, PPP gets a foot in the door in Punjab, and PTI gets to do what it does best: opposition.


Asif Ali Zardari will become the new President of Pakistan. Shehbaz Sharif, the Prime Minister - yet again.

As for poor old Pakistan, it sets off on a bumpy ride to the future with a 72-year-old at the steering wheel, his brother constantly nagging on the phone, and an annoying backseat driver in the form of the PPP. 

Bonus outcome:

PML-N government's unpopular decisions draw massive public rage. PTI's electoral fraud cases pending in courts get favourable outcomes after a year and a half.

Turmoil grips the federal parliament, and a no-confidence motion, aided by disgruntled MQM and Azads, leads to fresh elections.

Scenario 2:

Federal government

PPP and PML-N fail to reach common ground. February 29 arrives. PPP abstains from voting. Neither PML-N's nor PTI's prime ministerial candidates get the required number of votes.

Article 91 (4) of the unpopular document, commonly known as the Constitution of Pakistan, dictates that there shall be a second round of voting. In this second round, candidates won't need to get 134 votes (169 with reserved seats added). The candidate that gets more votes than the other will be elected as the next prime minister of Pakistan.

Punjab government:

PML-N can push through with forming their Maryam-Nawaz-led government in Punjab without support from the PPP. 
This, however, would be a risky option considering the fact that the PTI-backed Independents in Punjab have a sizeable number, which, if coupled with manoeuvred Azads and PPP's ten seats, can make Maryam's maiden public office tenure extremely turbulent, if not short.


PTI-backed independents elect Omer Ayub as Pakistan's 25th prime minister. Arif Alvi continues to be the President (most probably). The cabinet is anyone's guess. 

PPP and the PML-N sit on the opposition benches. No one knows who succeeded or who got trapped. The country will be run by a minority government — a scenario shared with the other probably scenario.  

Bonus outcome: 

PTI uses its position in government to get 'justice' and resolves its disputed electoral results in its favour; MQM hops on and turns this minority government into a majority government. CJP Qazi Faez Issa resigns/retires. Imran Khan is released from jail.

Mega bonus outcome: 

PTI government fails miserably. The country's economy crashes and burns under constant turbulence in parliament. PML-N gets to say 'I told you so' and campaigns for re-elections somewhere close to 2-years in the government term. 


As much as any of these outcomes may seem improbable to you, they are not. As long as Pakistan continues to bend the bow of the Constitution beyond its breaking point, we will never fail to create unlimited thrill, shock, and, most importantly, entertainment. But no matter how long it takes for our ignorant and self-righteous persuasions might last, there will come a time when we will all agree to abide by it. We, as a country, are already staring down the barrel of economic calamity. The question, however, remains: what level of ridiculously catastrophic disaster would it take for this democratic and political evolution to take effect?