LAHORE - What will happen in case opposition parties collectively quit their assembly seats? Will the PML-N, PPP and other smaller parties sitting on opposition benches really follow the line of action to be decided by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman?

What are the options available to the government in such a situation? What is the likely future scenario?

These questions have arisen following the intensifying political confrontation between the government and the opposition and the options being considered by parties working for the ouster of the present setup.

Apparently the times ahead will be turbulent that may lead to political instability at a time when economy calls for total peaceful conditions. The government has certain options that may make it difficult for the opposition to tailor a scene of their own choice.

A few days ago some reports suggested that the JUI-F legislators have submitted their resignations to their chief, leaving it for him if and when he should submit them to the relevant quarters.

But the latest reports are that the PML-N and the PPP parliamentarians will not resign from their seats even if the JUI-F leadership takes such a decision. If they really do so, the mere JUI-F legislators resignations (16 in number) will not bring the ruling PTI under pressure.

According to a former secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan, Kanwar Dilshad, the NA speaker may put the resignations in the cold storage for as long as he likes. He recalled that the PTI legislators, including Imran Khan, had tendered resignations during the PML-N rule but then speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq had kept the resignations pending for many months till a change in the situation persuaded such legislators to take back their decisions. The legislators, including Imran Khan, received salaries for the entire period they had stayed away from the house.

Kanwar Dilshad said there is no set period for which the speaker can keep these resignations pending, and during their pendency the government may engage the party to find a solution to the prevailing crisis.

However, in his opinion the situation will be different in case the PML-N and the PPP parliamentarians also quit their seats.

The PML-N, the biggest opposition party, has 85 seats in the National Assembly, followed by 54 of the PPP. There are also smaller parties having representation in the 342-member lower house of the bicameral legislature.

In case they tender resignations, working of the house will become difficult. In effect, it will mean almost 50 percent people will be without representation in parliament. Such a situation will make fresh elections inevitable.

But observers say that before the general elections the National Assembly and the provincial legislatures will have to be dissolved, a step within the power of the prime minister.

Then a caretaker set up should be in place to hold the new elections.

Will the prime minister and the leader of the opposition – who don’t even shake hands with each other because of political rivalry – agree to such a setup?

Mr Dilshad said to hold fresh elections across the country even the provincial assemblies will have to be dissolved. He asked what will happen if the PPP leadership refused to dissolve the Sindh Assembly?

As for the arrangements for fresh elections, the former ECP secretary said steps taken for the 2018 elections could be helpful for new elections and thus there would be no need for any fresh initiative.

But the situation will take any turn for the better or worse after the opposition’s next move. Till then the state of uncertainty will go on whether anyone likes it or not.