With Usman Buzdar’s resignation from the post of Chief Minister (CM), a power-vacuum was created in the Punjab Assembly for over two weeks during which candidates from the government and the opposition approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) for giving direction upon the matter of elections. In a new decision, Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti rejected the plea for early elections and instead, restored the powers of the deputy speaker and instructed him to hold the elections for the CM today.

In times of uncertainty, such directives by the LHC are appreciated but they don’t negate the fact that problems still remain within the provincial assembly and they have larger implications for the government as a whole. Currently, there is an intense divide within the PA between the PTI backed PML-Q candidate, Parvez Elahi, and the Jahangir Khan Tareen (JKT) group—constituting of disgruntled PTI lawmakers including Aleem Khan—backed PML-N candidate, Hamza Shehbaz.

To be elected as CM, each of the candidates will have to secure at least 186 votes, out of a total 317. The JKT’s 16-member group’s decision to throw their weight behind the opposition has brought PML-N close towards securing a majority although the reality of this situation will only be discovered after the vote.

Needless to say, should the PTI experience a loss in Punjab as well, the likelihood of the episode of filing resignations will increase tremendously as the provincial lawmakers would now also have nothing to lose. This has been seen on a national level, with more than 137 PTI MNAs resigning from the National Assembly after the vote of no confidence. If such a situation persists, the make-up of the PA will be altered in a manner that’s troublesome since a massive void will be left which, in turn, will affect matters of provincial governance for an indefinite period of time.

The spirit of the decision of the LHC is to move matters along and finally solidify a structure of power within the PA so that uncertainty can be quashed. At the same time, it is vital to tread carefully because even though assurances have been made by Parvez Elahi that PTI members will not resign, precedent from the federal level of government sets different expectations.