Imran Khan’s PTI, opposition parties struggle to consolidate their position in parliament

Pakistan’s prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and opposition parties struggle to consolidate their position ahead of the National Assembly’s inaugural session on Monday, in which all elected members will take oath of their seats. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP)
Updated 12 August 2018

Imran Khan’s PTI, opposition parties struggle to consolidate their position in parliament

  • Imran Khan’s party has 158 seats in a 342-member National Assembly – short of 14 members to prove simple majority
  • Opposition parties vow to give tough time to “puppet government” through protests inside and outside parliament

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and opposition parties are struggling to consolidate their position before the National Assembly’s inaugural session on Monday, in which all elected members will take oath of their seats.
Election for the coveted slots of Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Prime Minister will take place in the coming days.
All the parliamentary parties are jostling for a show of strength to fill these slots through election in the House.
The PTI leadership has been trying to build a coalition for the federal government since the July 25 polls as the party failed to win a simple majority to form the government. The party has now mustered enough numbers in the National Assembly to elect Khan as premier, but formation of an impressive cabinet and economic team still remains a challenge for it.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, the PTI has emerged as the largest party with 158 seats in a 342-member National Assembly – but is still short of 14 members to prove its majority in the House.
In the next five years to retain a simple majority in the Lower House of the Parliament and counter any move of a joint opposition, the PTI will remain dependent on its seven allied partners – Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, the Pakistan Muslim League, the Balochistan National Party, the Balochistan Awami Party, the Grand Democratic Alliance, the Awami Muslim League and the Jamhoori Wattan Party.
All the seven allied parties of the PTI collectively have 27 seats in the National Assembly, enough to support the ruling coalition to run its day-to-day functions smoothly, but only if they all refrain from creating troubles for the government.
The PTI has still not decided about the cabinet and economic teams.
The party has held several sessions of discussion and brainstorming for the past two weeks at the party chairman's  palatial residence in Islamabad, but they have yet to announce the cabinet members.
The party has, however, nominated a loyalist for position of chief minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where it has won a two-thirds majority in the elections.
Nominations for Speaker National Assembly and Governor Sindh have also been announced, but these announcements are least reflective of the party’s policy to run affairs of the state.
Azhar Laghari, head of the PTI’s public relations department, said that deliberations are still under way to fill key positions in public departments, including the cabinet members who will be responsible for improving the governance of their respective departments.
“Formation of the cabinet and a robust economic team are not less than a challenge for the party that is fully committed to set new precedents of good governance in Pakistan,” he told Arab News. 
“Imran Khan is committed to appoint the best of the best people and all the nominations will be finalized and announced in the next couple of days,” he added.
Political analysts, however, say it is a test of Imran Khan’s leadership to have effective control of all the government functionaries and all those “electable candidates” of the party who won the polls on the PTI’s ticket.
“In parliamentary politics, it has never been easy for any party to run its functions smoothly, especially in a case when it does not enjoy even a simple majority in the House,” Professor Tahir Malik, political analyst and academic, told Arab News. “The PTI will have to develop a good working relationship with all parliamentary parties, including the opposition, to deliver on its election promises,” he added.
On the other hand, opposition parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the Pakistan People's Party and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal have also been finalizing their strategy to give, as per its claims, a tough time to the government inside and outside the parliament.
The PML-N, party of the jailed ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, has 82 seats in the National Assembly, followed by the PPP with 53 and the MMA with 15 seats. The opposition alliance comprising these parties has decided to file its joint candidates for speaker, deputy speaker and prime minister to face the PTI. 
The alliance is, though, not in a position to win any of the coveted seats in the House because of its low numerical strength.
Senator Mushahidullah Khan, secretary information PML-N, said that all the opposition parties have united on a one-point agenda of protesting against the “rigged elections and a puppet government.”
“The opposition party’s alliance is committed to expose rigging in the polls through protest at all available forums,” he told Arab News. “We have no personal agenda but want to strengthen democracy in the country.”
Rasul Bukhsh Rais, political analyst, said that alliance of the opposition parties is temporary and they will not be able to create any major trouble for the government as long as the PTI keeps working along with its coalition partners. 
“All parties in the opposition alliance have different ideological leanings and they have different interests in the political system,” he told Arab News. “The opposition alliance can make an impact only if it comes up with some viable suggestions to fix the system and improve governance.”

"We are happy to have our son back"

Updated 18 December 2018

"We are happy to have our son back"

  • Parents of Indian national released from Peshawar jail rejoice
  • Detained for alleged espionage, Ansari had reportedly entered Pakistan from Kabul to meet a girl he had befriended online

NEW DELHI: After spending six years in a Pakistani jail on charges of alleged espionage, Indian national Hamid Ansari finally saw the light of day after being released by Islamabad on Tuesday.

In search of a better livelihood, Ansari had reportedly left his hometown of Mumbai in India to look for a job in Afghanistan.

In 2012, however, he allegedly entered Kohat, in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, to meet a girl he had befriended on social media.

Pakistan, however, said that Ansari, an engineer, was an Indian spy who had illegally entered the country while accusing him of being involved in anti-state crimes and forgery, prior to sentencing him to six years in jail.

Since 2015, Ansari had been lodged in a jail in Peshawar where he ended his prison term last week.

“We are happy that we'd be able to see our son again,” an emotional Nehal Ahmad Ansari, his father, told Arab News.

His mother, Fauzia Ansari, added that Ansari's release was "an end of a painful period in our life".

Speaking to reporters, she said: "It’s a new birth for Hamid. He will begin his new life. We will support him for his rehabilitation, good health and better future.”

Nehal, on his part, thanked the government of India and Pakistan "for every effort" made in helping repatriate his son.

Ansari's entire family, along with a large number of peace activists, were present at the Wagah border to receive him. 

Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs expressed “great relief, especially for the family members, that six years of incarceration of the Indian civilian in Pakistan jail is coming to an end.”

In a press statement released on Monday, Kumar asked “Pakistan to take action to also end the misery of other Indian nationals and fishermen whose nationality has been confirmed and who have completed their sentences, but continue to languish in Pakistan jails.”