In a surprising move, Sindh Assembly Speaker, Agha Siraj Durrani, has accepted resignations of four MPAs belonging to the PTI, which had been submitted during the party’s agitation campaign against the PML-N government last year. The timing of the decision suggests that the upcoming Senate elections may have everything to do with Speaker Durrani’s change of heart. Previously, he had maintained that he could not proceed until the PTI MPAs directly communicated with him to confirm their resignations; a stance maintained by Speakers of other provincial assemblies as well as the National Assembly. Now, at a time when the PTI is no more on the streets and has confined itself to issuing ultimatums in press conferences, Speaker Durrani’s patience has curiously run out, constitutional constraints no longer apply, as he delivers what the PTI had pretended to want desperately.

Will other Speakers follow suit? Or will the PML-N continue to defer confirmation? Politically, the PML-N may find it more suitable to allow the PTI to retain its seats. Currently, the PTI isn’t as threatening as it seemed a few months back when the party’s Chairman, Imran Khan, was regularly spitting fire atop his container before charged supporters and empty chairs alike. The horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar forced the party to call off its destructive plan to shut down the country, and now Mr Khan has decided to focus on Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for a change. The PML-N would like that very much. That is not to say that the formation of a judicial commission to probe electoral rigging is no longer an issue. The two parties have failed to agree on the terms of the proposed commission, and as they stick to their respective positions, it is highly unlikely that a settlement will be reached any time soon. With the fuel shortage crisis serving as a cause of well-deserved embarrassment and ridicule for the government, it would not want to further antagonize its main political opponent by accepting resignations at this point in time.

However, the PML-N government, during the last year and a half of its tenure, has firmly established that it is not the one to take initiatives. It goes with the flow, which doesn’t come about as a result of careful deliberation but from sheer ineptitude and absentmindedness. A lot will depend on how the PTI reacts to Speaker Durrani’s decision. It would find it rather difficult to protest over receiving what it had been begging for all along. It cannot do so without making a mockery of itself. That leaves it with one simple choice: posturing. In all likelihood, the PTI would publicly dare other Speakers to do the same. But its members will continue to struggle to find their way into National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq’s chambers to confirm. It can of course always up the ante by doing just that but the time for that may have passed.