On Saturday, Pakistan saw one of its most robust debating sessions on the floor of the National Assembly. While this is something we have always advocated for—that the most pressing issues of our country should be debated in parliament to find the best way forward—it was clear that this filibuster session was a means to delay the inevitable vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The parliament essentially became a spectacle as the assembly session went on break several times, with speeches from both sides. But with PTI lawmakers taking liberties with time to philosophise whether or not this vote was a ‘foreign plot’, it became increasingly clear that they would not take up the motion until the absolute last moment.
As the clock got closer to the expected midnight deadline, with both the Islamabad High Court and the Supreme Court opening their doors for potential proceedings, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker both resigned and paved the way for the panel of chair to take over and conduct the no-confidence proceedings. As expected, under Ayaz Sadiq presiding the session, the vote was a quick victory for the former opposition benches compared to the proceedings witnessed before the instrumental count, which lasted more than twelve hours.
With Prime Minister Imran Khan formally dismissed via this motion, it is time for some collective introspection. One important lesson to draw from what took place throughout the last week is that the Constitution of Pakistan is supreme and cannot be violated under any cost. Respect for the law is something former PM Khan had long advocated for, which is why it was even more troubling to see the government take the law and parliamentary proceedings hostage in a bid to delay or disrupt the vote at any cost.
Secondly, it is important to move forward from this turbulent time in national politics. The polarisation and division created as a result of accusations of treason and betraying the state must be replaced with a common cause of looking to develop the country together. But with the treasury benches empty when the voting was taking place, it is clear to see that this is easier said than done.
Beyond this political crisis of our own making, it is important to remember the many serious issues we face economically. With Shehbaz Sharif expected to be voted in as Prime Minister imminently, it is hoped that his suggestion of a charter of economy is quickly put into action. The uncontrolled influx of imports, currency devaluation, depletion of foreign reserves and a whole host of other issues need to be solved on a long-term basis. Their resolution is only possible through a clear plan for years to come, where parties look to implement a plan of action in moving Pakistan towards development, regardless of who comes to power.
The battle will now shift to Punjab, where the question of the new Chief Minister hangs in the balance. It is hoped that the National Assembly’s proceedings will lead to more muted reactions, and proceedings in the provincial set up are dealt with according to the law. It is time to move on from the rhetoric and get back to the boring and thankless business of running the country.