LAHORE - All opposition parties, either because of their complicity with the ruling PPP-led setup or incapacity, have failed to mount enough pressure on it to hold early elections, as a result of which the political scene appears set to remain more or less the same.

In such a situation, the judiciary alone can bring about a change through its verdicts in three important cases it is dealing with at present. And in case it finds no grounds to proceed against the bigwigs involved in these cases, the ruling coalition will complete its five-year term without difficulty – no matter how serious problems the people might face.

The PML-N, which calls itself the real opposition party, has been demanding fresh elections for quite some time. But, for reasons best known to its leadership, it has failed to take steps to force the government to go for a fresh mandate.

Some months ago, the party launched a campaign against President Zardari, insisting that free and fair elections cannot be expected as long as long the ‘madari’, or the juggler, as the Punjab chief minister called him, was there.

It was decided that the party would first hold public meetings in various cities to mobilise the masses. In the second phase a long march on Islamabad would be held, and then to deliver a fatal blow to the PPP-led setup all PML-N legislators would quit their seats. It was claimed that once the PML-N MPs vacated their seats, it would not be possible for the government to hold by-elections in such a large number of constituencies.

However, the three-step strategy still awaits implementation.  Apparently, there is little possibility of the PML-N creating any problem for the government because of the spectacular gains it has made through the 20th amendment.

Under this amendment, it is now for the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly to decide about the interim setup that will supervise the general elections. (At the provincial level, the power goes to the chief minister and the opposition leader in the provincial legislature).

The president has no role to play in the formation of the caretaker setup. Therefore, the PML-N is now least pushed to do anything against him. Perhaps, the serious corruption and money-laundering charges the PML-N leadership has been levelling against him no longer have much importance.

Maybe, the PML-N has lost interest in fresh elections because it is in power in Punjab, which is more than 50 per cent of Pakistan.

The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf and the Jamaat-i-Islami are another two important opposition parties that call for fresh elections but are not prepared for the exercise. The PTI doesn’t have enough candidates even for a single province, leave alone the country. Although some important leaders from other parties have jumped on the PTI bandwagon, Imran Khan will have to work very hard to bring more electables into the party.

Those who have come from other parties to the PTI have disenchanted a number of Imran Khan’s young supporters. They now think that the change the cricketer-turned-politician promised cannot be effected by the rainbow of ‘turncoats’.

The PTI is also not ready to face immediate fresh elections because it wants polls held on the basis of new electoral rolls, which are not ready at present.

The Jamaat-i-Islami, which is likely to be an ally of the PTI in the next polls, also faces a similar situation. Its position at present is no different from what it was in the past.

Another opposition party is the JUI-F which remained a coalition partner with the PPP for about three years before parting ways with it when the prime minister sacked Azam Swati as minister along with Hamid Saeed Kazmi because of the Haj scandal. It started calling for fresh elections since then – but not very seriously.

For the time being, Maulana Fazlur Rehman is trying to pave the way for the revival of the defunct Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, an alliance of religious parties.

The other parties like PML-Q, MQM, ANP and the PML (Functional) are part of the ruling coalition. Therefore, they would like the elections to be held as late as possible.

This means that the opposition parties, for one reason or the other, are unable to compel the government to call early elections.

People, therefore, have pinned their hopes on the judiciary, which is seized with some important cases.

The issue of the implementation of the NRO verdict is one of them. The Supreme Court has already charge-sheeted the prime minister for committing contempt because of his failure to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to request them to reopen the money laundering cases, which were shelved earlier because of an unauthorised communication sent by the then attorney general during the Musharraf rule.

In case the prime minister is held guilty, the political situation may change, although the PPP will try to control the damage by electing a new chief executive. In case the situation spins out of control, fresh elections may become unavoidable.

The prime minister’s counsel, however, has already stated that he hopes his client will be acquitted.

Another important case before the judiciary is that of the controversial memorandum that former ambassador Husain Haqqani allegedly conveyed to the US authorities. This document has grave implications for Pakistan’s national security.

In case it is established that the memo had really been conveyed and the involvement of the president is also proven, the consequences may be very serious and may necessitate the change of leadership at the top level.

The third issue being looked into is the May 2 raid by US SEALs on Abbottabad that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. The defence forces did not react reportedly under instructions from their supreme commander.

If it is established that the top leadership was aware of the operation and had ordered the relevant officials not to retaliate, the situation will get serious.

In short, the ball is now in the court of the judiciary and its verdicts can do what the opposition parties have failed to do.