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Politics of Opportunism

Pakistan may eventually move towards some sanity in its politics.

By Muhammad Arslan Qadeer | May 2022

Finally the cat is out of the bag, the long awaited and much-talked about No Confidence Motion against the former Prime Minister Imran Khan finally dislodged the old regime and we have a new political concoction in place. A lot has changed with mirthless anticipation of many unprecedented surprises to come. Though the No Confidence phase is now part of history, what shall precipitate has left many guessing as to the future of the country with the present political dispensation now holding sway. Suspicions and doubts question the capacity of the present government which is more of a house of cards propped in a fragile arrangement out of haste to meet the need.

The present political conundrum or the proverbial marriage of convenience seems to be an unnatural contract of a motley assortment of over 140 big and small parties, most of which owe their existence to ethnicity, region and religion, and therefore, nothing in common. Based on the age old saying; ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ the alliance, irrespective of national interest and without giving much thought to what harm it might do to the country, much like a game of dominos, was successful in mustering up 172 required seats out of 342 to oust a democratically elected Prime Minister, apparently for no fault or charges of venality, deceit or corruption.

In the ongoing cacophony, while all this has taken place, one of the biggest grey areas that may be considered as the mother of all problems was the ease and convenience with which the dissident members of the PTI government changed their loyalties, making it more of a game of cards. Typically the way things move in Pakistan, a belated petition was filed to stop ‘horse trading’ of the dissenting members under Article 63-A of the Constitution. This was done when water had already crossed over the dam. As per the PTI government, a member who has given allegiance to a party and gotten elected on the party ticket, cannot ditch the party in exchange for a few millions. In the case of dissension, the dissident member, should tender his resignation rather than putting himself on sale. The seat then could be replaced through by-elections. Conversely, those found of horse-trading should be slapped lifetime bans to contest elections.

Ethically speaking, how can such a person who has changed his affiliation for money can do legislation? Article 63-A of the Constitution deals with jumping ship or horse trading. However, the said Article, ironically, has a hidden loophole that makes it an ‘Achilles’ heel and thus remains the root-cause easing the way to no-confidence motions. This is a matter of anybody’s guess whether this loophole in the article is fortuitous or retained on purpose to keep the fate of a given government in hand. The fact remains that full advantage of this escape clause has been taken in the past as well now.

Following the ousting of the PTI regime, the country once again plunged into an anarchic situation. Notwithstanding which particular party is in power, unless all parties and individuals move in unison towards doing required legislation to close this hidden door once and for all, history will continue to keep repeating itself. If not done, it will result in a seesaw situation.

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The author is a retired Cavalry officer. He has spent 27 years in uniform and has a published collection of short stories By the Autumn Trees to his name. He is a historian and an avid traveller, having a number of travelogues published in leading newspapers. He can be reached at

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