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

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 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.”


Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
Updated 23 January 2021

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
  • The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia
  • Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed”

MOSCOW: Russian police detained dozens of protesters on Saturday as supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny took to the streets following his call to protest against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
Putin’s most vocal domestic critic called for mass rallies after surviving a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent and returning to Moscow last weekend following months of treatment in Germany. He was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport and jailed.
The rallies — planned for dozens of cities across Russia — are expected to be a major test of the opposition’s ability to mobilize despite the increasing Kremlin pressure on critics and the coronavirus pandemic.
The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia including Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Chita where several thousand took to the streets, Navalny supporters said.
OVD Info, which monitors detentions at opposition rallies, said around 50 people were detained in 10 cities.
Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed.”
In Moscow, which usually mobilizes the largest rallies, protesters plan to meet in the central Pushkin Square at 2:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) and then march toward the Kremlin.

On the eve of the rallies, Navalny, who is being held in Moscow’s high-security Matrosskaya Tishina jail, thanked his supporters.
“I know perfectly well that there are lots of good people outside of my prison’s walls and help will come,” he said on Friday.
Navalny’s wife Yulia said she would join the protest in Moscow. “For myself, for him, for our children, for the values and the ideals that we share,” she said on Instagram.
Ahead of the demonstrations several key Navalny aides were taken into police custody for violating protest laws and handed short jail sentences to keep them away from the rallies.
The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said Friday it launched a criminal probe into the calls for unauthorized protests.
A hastily organized court on Monday jailed Navalny for 30 days, and his supporters fear that authorities are preparing to sentence him to a long prison term to silence him.
Navalny’s team this week released an investigation into an opulent Black Sea property allegedly owned by Putin.
The “Putin’s palace” report alleges the Russian leader owns a 17,691 square meter mansion that sits on a property 39 times the size of Monaco and features a casino along with a theater and a hookah lounge complete with a pole-dancing stage.
The two-hour video report had been viewed more than 65 million times since Tuesday, becoming the Kremlin critic’s most-watched YouTube investigation.
The Kremlin has denied the property belongs to Putin.
Many Russians took to social media — including video sharing app TikTok hugely popular with teens — to voice support and urge a large turnout on Saturday.
A hashtag demanding freedom for Navalny was trending on TikTok as Russians flooded the Chinese app with thousands of videos.
Russia’s media watchdog warned online platforms against encouraging minors to participate in the rallies or risk hefty fines.
The watchdog said on Friday that media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, removed content at its request.
Russia’s most popular social network VKontakte blocked groups created to coordinate the protests in different cities.
But a number of public figures — including those who usually steer clear of politics — have spoken out in Navalny’s support.
Navalny, 44, rose to prominence a decade ago and has become the central figure of Russia’s opposition movement, leading large-scale street protests against corruption and electoral fraud.
His arrest drew widespread Western condemnation, with the United States, the European Union, France and Canada all calling for his release.