Main Pakistan Opposition Says Will Not Move Against PM

The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said it would not demand a vote of no confidence in Gilani because to do so would exacerbate instability in the country, the party said.

The PML-N believes a no-confidence vote would “damage the whole country,” chairman Raja Zafar-ul-Haq told Reuters.

Coalition partner the MQM pulled out of the U.S.-backed administration over fuel price policies, leaving the government, which is trying to strengthen the economy, ease poverty and tackle militancy, without a majority.

PML-N spokesman Ahsan Iqbal said “at the moment, a no-confidence vote does not look like a possibility.”

Despite Tuesday’s reprieve, analysts do not expect Gilani to serve out his term, which ends in 2013.

“The government may survive for some time but it can’t continue indefinitely in this state,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi. “It has to muster support. The opposition will continue to embarrass it and paralyse it.”

The second biggest opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League headed by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (PML-Q) is not pushing for a no-confidence vote either, party officials said.

It compounds the government’s difficulties in battling domestic militants and struggling to meet demands from the International Monetary Fund, including politically sensitive tax reforms, in return for an $11 billion (7.1 billion pound) loan.

Even before the latest setback, the government faced opposition from almost all political parties to its bid to implement a reformed general sales tax (RGST) — a key condition for the release of a sixth IMF tranche.

Analysts doubt Gilani will see out his term, which ends in 2013, but divisions within the opposition make it unlikely it will unite and form a new ruling alliance.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), the biggest opposition party in parliament, is expected to meet on Tuesday to decide a course of action.

It is likely to be the pivotal force in determining the government’s fate, as it is the only opposition party with the numbers to force a no-confidence vote on its own.

Following the defection of the MQM, the government is 12 seats short of the number needed to survive a no-confidence vote.

Were it to lose such a vote, the country would hold early elections. Gilani has been scrambling to win the support of opposition leaders to save his alliance.

“From this point onward, the government will be on crutches. The no-confidence vote is a threat for it,” said analyst Ahmed Bilal Mehboob.

The country’s main stock index ended 1.44 percent lower, in contrast with rising stocks elsewhere in Asia, reflecting concerns over the stability of the government, traders said. Reuters