2022: Year Of Political And Economic Instability In Pakistan

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The last month of 2022 has begun, and the economic and plotical situation in Pakistan has reached a crucial stage. Imran Khan, Pakistan’s ex-prime minister, had originally planned to dissolve the provincial assembly of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, both of which are currently governed by the PTI, on December 23. However, the decision was postponed in light of new actions by political opponents.

This year has seen the worst political tug of war in recent memory, which has destabilised the economy and brought default closer.

The common people of Pakistan, who are the country’s most important stakeholder, have been left in the political lurch since cricket terminology has taken over the political arena.

Politicians and other power brokers are paying less and less attention to the issues of the people in favour of palace intrigue and other issues that have little to no bearing on the lives of the majority of the population and are contributing to their poor living conditions. Unfortunately, the politics of the elite have prevented the country’s leaders from enacting any measures that would bring the greatest assistance to the people, many of whom are still spending the night on the streets in the midst of winter since their houses were devastated by the floods.

No-confidence vote against the Prime Minister

The PTI government seemed confident in its ability to defeat the PDM in early 2022. Nobody could have predicted the political situation turning against the PTI in March and April of 2022.

Late in the month of February, former president Asif Ali Zardari successfully convinced the PDM’s top brass to introduce a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Imran Khan before the National Assembly. On March 8, the proposed resolution was introduced.

The joint opposition submitted a no-trust motion against Khan, which culminated in removal of Imran Khan as the prime minister of the country in the wee hours of April 10, 2022 amid a political drama punctuated with several turns and twists, uncertainty and anxiety about the political and economic future of the country.

The joint opposition, including two major opposition parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan People’s Party after brainstorming for several weeks to unsettle the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, reached to decision to submit a no-confidence motion against the government, instead of an earlier decision of the resignations from the Parliament and long march to Islamabad.

The PPP had a different opinion with regard to the proposal of resignations from the assemblies, which was being touted by the PML-N and some other parties in the opposition alliance the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).

The PPP convinced opposition parties to take part in by elections, which were mostly won by the opposition. It also came with a political strategy to table the no-confidence motion in the National Assembly against the PTI government with an argument that resignations from the assembly should be a last resort option.

The opposition’s lawmakers submitted the no-trust motion on March 08 under Article 95 against the premier to the National Assembly Secretariat. The opposition had also filed a requisition notice seeking a session of the lower house of Parliament to table the no-trust motion.

PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Sanaullah, PPP’s Naveed Qamar, Shazia Marri and JUI-F’s Shahida Akhtar Ali had submitted the no-trust motion in the NA Secretariat.

Speaking at a joint press conference, the then-Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif said the motion was presented because of the government’s poor performance in economic and social sectors, also accusing poor governance, political victimisation of opponents, and mismanaging the economy and foreign policy during the three-and-half years tenure of the PTI government.

This was the beginning of a spell of political moves and counter moves between the opposition parties and the government.

The National Assembly Secretariat declared the no-trust motion submitted by the opposition parties, according to the rules after its scrutiny and verification of the signatures of the opposition members on the no-trust motion as well as the requisition notice for the assembly session.

The legislation department of the National Assembly completed its process and forwarded the file to the Speaker. It recommended the speaker to summon the assembly session any day before March 22. The NA Secretariat issued notices to MNAs regarding the no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan. The notices were issued to the NA lawmakers along with a copy of the no-trust move in accordance with the assembly’s rules and regulations.

Federal government decided to summon the National Assembly session for voting on no-trust motion after the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) moot in Islamabad, which was scheduled  for March 22 and 23 in Islamabad.

Sindh House Saga

Some Legislators defected from Imran Khan’s PTI in the days leading up to the no-confidence motion, bolstering opposition spirits. After news broke that numerous members of the governing PTI were residing at the Sindh House in Islamabad in the days leading up to the vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan, the building became a flashpoint in the political battle between the PTI and the opposition.

Following the 2018 general election, Raja Riaz joined the Jahangir Khan Tareen faction of the PTI, showing hostility against party leader Imran Khan. Riaz had previously quit the PPP and joined the PTI in 2016. He said that roughly a dozen PTI MNAs were present at Sindh House. He said that the police had beaten assaulted and arrested the MNAs in his faction. He further claimed that the Parliament Lodges were the target of a police raid.

Members of parliament who refused to back the no-confidence resolution indicated they were not influenced by financial incentives. Concerning “the opposition’s attempt to buy the loyalty of PTI MNAs,” former information minister Fawad Chaudhry warned of severe action in the wake of the no-confidence motion.

During a demonstration against dissident Legislators who had taken refuge in the Sindh House on March 18 in Islamabad, a group of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters infiltrated the grounds by smashing the main gate. Two members of the National Assembly who were protesting with PTI workers also turned themselves in to the police.

When news of PTI desertions leaked out, it caused concern among the coalition’s other members. The PTI barely outnumbered the opposition in Parliament. This slender majority was achieved through the ruling party’s coalition with the Pakistan Muslim League–Quaid (PML–Q), the Muttahida Quami Movement–Pakistan (MQM–P), and the (BAP).

PTI defectors sowed doubt among the coalition partners, who saw themselves as helpless in the event that the joint opposition’s no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan was successful.

In discussions with the government, allies have voiced concerns and asked what will happen if the opposition wins the vote of no confidence against the government with the help of the PTI defectors.

This reality compelled coalition parties to negotiate with the opposition in order to secure a more advantageous future political arrangement. The opposition’s deft handling of this conversation has opened up real possibilities for toppling the PTI government.

The MQM-P and the BAP, as well as some independents, eventually switched allegiances to the opposition, giving them a significant boost.

In contrast, the PML-Q withdrew its support for the opposition in the no-confidence vote after the PTI promised them the office of chief minister of Punjab. This move, however, caused tension between the PML-two Q’s most senior members.

Ruling by the Speaker

The Speaker of the National Assembly did not preside over the April 3 session to vote on the no-trust motion, so the Deputy Speaker, Qasim Khan Suri, took over as chair.

A vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Imran Khan was shot down by Deputy Speaker Suri due to allegations that he was involved in an international plot.

In an earlier address to the house, federal minister Fawad Chaudhry claimed that the no-trust motion was supported by a foreign conspiracy. The chair should rule on this before making a decision on the no-trust motion.

The deputy speaker ruled that the international conspiracy theory supporting the no-trust motion was proven and declared the motion to be dead. According to Qasim Suri’s ruling, “the points raised by the law minister are valid and the no trust motion is against the constitution.”

The Supreme Court’s Final Decision

The ruling on the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan was noticed suo moto by the Supreme Court.

The ruling of the NA deputy speaker and the subsequent dissolution of the assembly were found to be unconstitutional and null and void by a five-judge larger bench led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial.

The Supreme Court mandated that the Speaker of the National Assembly call an emergency session of Parliament for April 9 to vote on the no-trust motion.

The Supreme Court ruled that its ruling would have no effect on the constitutionality of Article 63 (A), and it ordered the government not to prevent any lawmaker from voting on the no-confidence motion.

Dramatic NA Meeting

The morning session of the National Assembly to vote on the motion of no confidence dragged on through the night, with several breaks in between. Late last night, Speaker Asad Qaiser announced his resignation from office.

Because of the letter I will be sending to the Supreme Court, I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer serve as speaker, Qaiser said. He said, “I’ll ask Ayaz Sadiq from the PML-N to come and complete the legal procedure (hold voting on no-confidence motion)”.

The vote to remove Imran Khan as prime minister was successful, with 174-0. This was the first successful no-confidence motion against a sitting prime minister in Pakistani parliamentary history.

Khan’s Retaliatory Strike

After the no-confidence vote, Imran Khan claimed to have an intelligence report from March 7 in which the US government allegedly “threatened” to remove him from office. Reports indicate that the United States disapproved of Khan’s foreign policy and his trip to Russia.

He claimed he had written proof that the United States was behind a “foreign conspiracy” to overthrow his government and institute a regime change.

Appointment of a new Chief Minister in Punjab

Usman Buzdar, of the PTI, resigned as chief minister of Punjab in the wake of the no-trust motion against the prime minister, allowing Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, of the PML-Q, to be elected as the new chief executive of the province. Both Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi of the PML-Q and Hamza Shehbaz of the PML-N ran for the position, with Elahi having the support of PTI’s dissident lawmakers from the Jahangir Khan Tarin and Aleem Khan factions.

There were ugly scenes in the provincial legislature after Hamza Shehbaz was elected chief minister of Punjab.

Hamza Shahbaz received 179 votes, while Pervaiz Elahi, the joint candidate of the PTI and the PML-Q, received 186. The PML-Q had 186 votes, but Deputy Speaker Mazari voided 10 of them.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan agreed to hear an appeal from PTI candidate for CM Punjab Parvez Elahi challenging the decision of Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari to nullify 10 votes cast for the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid. In a later ruling, Pakistan’s Supreme court mandated an election for chief minister in Punjab, the country’s most populous province.

Due to the PTI’s overwhelming majority in the Punjab Assembly, Pervaiz Elahi was subsequently elected as the province’s chief minister.

Extreme flooding in Pakistan

At least 1,739 people lost their lives and 3.2 trillion rupees ($14.9 billion) in damage was incurred between June and October 2022 in Pakistan due to the worst floods. The melting of glaciers after intense heat waves is also a climate change-related contributor to floods, as are monsoon rains that are heavier than usual.

Newly Amended NAB Law

The National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act, 2022, which revised the National Accountability Ordinance of 1999, was unanimously approved by the National Assembly on August 3.

Several parties in the government have voiced concerns about the current system of accountability and have called for changes to be made.

To further amend the law regulating the National Accountability Bureau, State Minister for Law and Justice Shahadat Awan introduced the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act, 2022 in the lower house.

Corruption and corrupt practises will be considered a felony with a minimum penalty of Rs500m under the proposed legislation, which is based on the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) of 1999.

The bill further removes the president’s ability to appoint accountability court judges in conjunction with the heads of the highest courts.

The Audio Leaks Scandal

The leak of multiple audio files prompted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to order a review of the office’s cybersecurity measures and the establishment of an investigative committee.

There was a meeting of the National Security Committee, which included Sharif and other high-ranking government and military officials, to discuss the audio leaks and devise a plan to ensure the safety of the PMO and other sensitive government buildings.

By securing seven of the National Assembly’s seats, Imran Khan creates history.

Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and a former prime minister, made history by winning seven of the eight National Assembly seats he ran for.

By-elections in Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda, Faisalabad, Karachi, and Nankana Sahib have all been won by PTI leader Imran Khan.

In the Toshakhana case, Imran Khan was disqualified

On October 21, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued its ruling in the Toshakhana case filed against Imran Khan and found in favour of the petitioners. According to the ECP ruling, “the Cabinet Division indicated the presents had a worth of 107.943 million, but Imran Khan maintained he had acquired them from Toshakhana for 21.564 million.” “The State Bank of Pakistan has provided us with Imran Khan’s bank account information. At the end of the fiscal year 2018–19, he had 51.6 million rupees in his bank account, according to the judgement. About half the value of the governmental gifts were in his bank account. According to the ECP’s ruling, “Imran Khan was obligated to reveal the cash and bank data in his returns but he did not declare it.” His financial reports don’t add up with the bank’s books. The fact that the error in his returns was inadvertent was not mentioned by him. The judgement states, “Imran Khan admitted that he did not report the presents or the money gained from the sale of the goods in Financial Year 2019-20.” He said that everything was disclosed on his tax filings. “The electoral commission and the FBR are two different governmental organisations,” ECP said. Imran Khan was disqualified and removed from his position in the National Assembly because he submitted a fraudulent statement and declaration, in violation of Article 63, 1(P) of the Election Act. The former prime minister was also found guilty of engaging in corrupt activities under Articles 167 and 173 of the Constitution, the judgement said. Due to his fraudulent declaration, “criminal process will be filed against him.” In its 36-page thorough ruling of the referral, the ECP stated, “His disqualification under Article 63, 1(P) has been for his present parliament membership.”

Army Leadership Change

In Pakistan, the political undercurrents and clout of the office around the change of military leadership in November meant that it remained a prominent talking point throughout the month. After General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s six-year tenure as COAS ended, General Asim Munir assumed leadership of the Pakistan Army. Rawalpindi served as the setting for the change of command ceremony. 

The Azadi March, Organized by the PTI

The PTI’s Azadi March from Lahore to Islamabad began on the 28th to demand early elections.

On November 3rd, during the march at Wazirabad, Imran Khan was shot in an attempted assassination.

The PTI has called for new elections to be held as soon as possible, but the PDM administration has refused to do so until the conclusion of the National Assembly’s normal term.

Forecasts indicate that the negative effects on the economy and the political climate will last beyond 2023.

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