ISLAMABAD             -          The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s successful move to get two FATF-related bills passed from the opposition-dominated Senate has not only exposed cracks in the ranks of opposition but also put a question mark on its plans to launch an anti-government movement after Eid ul Azha.

The major opposition parties, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), in the 104- member upper house were so in a hurry to vote for the two bills that they even ignored remarks of Prime Minister Imran Khan made in a party meeting that he would not give any NRO like deal to opposition in return for this legislation.  For the ruling party, it is the ultimate win in this week’s negotiations with the opposition on the two bills seeking to fulfill requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)—the global anti-money laundering and terror financing watchdog, and a proposal to amend the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party not only managed a smooth sailing of the two bills from the upper house but also succeeded to give an impression that opposition wanted that the corruption cases initiated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against them should come to an end with bringing amendments in the accountability law. At the end, the government got the bills approved “in the national interest” but there is no headway on amendments in the NAB law.

Many within PTI believe that it was a myth that the ruling party is eyeing the Senate’s March 2021 election to get majority in the house for smooth sailing of government-sponsored legislation there. They say that they would become more comfortable after March 2021 but till now, opposition has not succeeded to block any “public-interest” legislation from the house due to different “overt and covert” reasons. 

The latest development of passage of the FATF bills has not only exposed cracks in the ranks of opposition but also sent a sense of disappointment among its lawmakers and supporters that their leadership lacked will and strategy to give a tough time to the government within and outside the parliament.

Former chairman Senate and PPP stalwart Mian Raza Rabbani was so dejected in the house sitting on Thursday that he minced no words to say that the “strings” of the parliament were being “pulled” from outside and they have no option except to vote in favour of the bills against their will and conscience. Perhaps, he was referring to the powers-that-be.

According to PTI, the opposition has no choice except to support them on such bills because their leadership was facing corruption cases and they lose no opportunity to have backdoor talks with the government to get leniency on the ongoing trials and investigations of corruption against them.

The backbenchers of the opposition in the Senate understand that the chances of launching an anti-government movement by the opposition have diminished with the way their leadership has reacted to the current week’s developments that took place on political horizon.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), another opposition party, was also upset. They had staged a protest sit-in in Islamabad last year against the ruling party. PPP and PML-N decided to support the bills. Maulana Attaur Rehman wasted no time to criticise both parties in the house. He even remarked that his party did not see that it could move ahead along with them in future.

Many lawmakers of the ruling party did not own the idea that the ruling party would ever face threat from the opposition. They say that their government was facing threats from within due to internal rifts and issues of governance, and rising inflation.