LAHORE - Following appearance of PM Gilani before the apex court on Thursday, there is general feeling that current political dispensation will remain intact at least for a couple of months if not beyond it.

The Senate elections in March this year also seem certain, especially after PML-N’s decision to put the option of resignations from assemblies on the back burner under fear of its implications.

The fact that it has also invited applications from prospective candidates for the Senate tickets and its involvement in backdoor negotiations with the PPP to get all the senators elected unopposed, also gives credence to this supposition. The PML-N leader’s plea that they don’t want to leave the field open for the PPP by resigning from the assemblies is a big indication that the system will survive.

Following this adjustment in its political strategy, the PML-N leadership now wants to use this card only at the time when there is need to give a final push to the crumbling walls [of government]. As the things stand today, the government has got a new lease of life and the PML-N leadership thinks that the decisive moment to quit the assemblies has not approached as yet.

With the coming to forefront Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan in defence of the government, things seem to have changed a lot in its favour. The focus of court proceedings on NRO case has been shifted from prime minister’s likely conviction to President’s immunity after the former took shelter in Article 248 of the Constitution, and used it as an excuse for not writing a letter to the Swiss court. Jurists believe that prime minister is less likely to be convicted till the issue of presidential immunity is settled by the court, a process which may take well over a month or so to conclude.

The dust over memo controversy will also take some time to settle and the government will get time to re-align itself to be in a commanding position again as the matter lingers on.  

There are other indications also on whose basis one could conclude that present setup would survive by March this year, if not beyond this. It is important to note in the current scenario that General Pervez Musharraf has deferred his plan to return to the country for the time being. Previously, he was determined to come by the end of January, hoping that there would be a new set up in place by the time he lands in Pakistan. But the situation has changed altogether with the entry of Aitzaz into the political arena.

The judiciary’s commitment with democracy coupled by Army’s assurance to protect the system are other factors which lead one to assume that present setup had no imminent danger of getting collapsed in the near future.

Political analysts believe that if the government survives by March this year and Senate elections also take place as scheduled, it would be difficult for the opposition to force the PPP-led government to hand over power to an interim government of national consensus to hold early elections. It would then like to present its fifth budget in the National Assembly and to hold elections afterwards.

At present, however, the government is willing to hold general elections much earlier provided the Senate elections are not disturbed. It has already invited opposition parties through its emissaries to settle modalities of an interim setup and an independent Election Commission.

Assuming that government succumbs to Opposition’s pressure and interim setup is put in place in April this year, it would not be possible to hold elections before September.