LAHORE - The PML-N and the Muttahida Qaumi Movements decision to jointly play the role of opposition in the Senate, the National Assembly and provincial legislatures, the meeting in London of JUI-F Amir Maulana Fazlur Rehman with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and PTI chief Imran Khans resolve to launch an anti-government campaign to mount pressure for early elections are important developments on the political scene. The common man, facing countless problems because of the governments failure to deliver, wants to know what these contacts are all about and whether they will lead to any change in the country. Efforts being made to set up a grand alliance of opposition parties are also being watched by those whose patience for change is running out. Lets try to find out what may or may not happen in the foreseeable future, and who can play what role in the future developments. Apparently, Prime Minister Gilani and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif hold the key to the situation. They can bring about a change in the situation by using their options. The role of other leaders and parties may not be as effective. The prime minister, under the Constitution, has the authority to advise the president to dissolve the National Assembly. He can use this power any time. But, he wont. He will not like to shorten the life of his government, which is mandated to stay in power for five years. After the 18th amendment, the president doesnt have the power to dissolve the assembly. And in case he wants to go for such an option, he being the head of the ruling party, will have to ask the prime minister to do the needful. In case the government is unwilling to consider fresh elections, the PML-N can force it to seek fresh mandate. Mian Nawaz Sharif can direct his 90 plus MNAs to tender resignations. At the same time he can ask his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to advise the Punjab governor to dissolve the 372-member provincial assembly. Once so many NA seats fall vacant and the entire provincial assembly of the countrys biggest province goes, the Election Commission will be duty-bound to hold by-elections on the vacant seats. And by-elections on such a large number of seats will be no less than holding general elections. Now the question arises whether the PML-N chief will like to create a situation in which fresh elections become unavoidable? And if he has no plans to do so, how should his contacts with the MQM, despite immense bitterness of the past, be interpreted? The PML-N leaders are weighing all options. They do want the ouster of the present government, but are undecided whether it should be made possible through an in-house change or a popular movement. Apparently, no in-house change is possible as long as the PML-Q and other coalition partners stand by the PPP. Although the PML-Q had joined hands with the PPP mainly to get budding leader Moonis Elahi cleared of all corruption charges, it is less likely to part ways with the PPP even if it fails to be of much help to the Chaudhrys. The reason is that it will not like to do anything which serves the interests of the PML-N. The PTI is preparing itself to launch a movement against the government. Imran Khan has a following among the youth. But what is commonly known as 'mummy daddy party is less likely to be able to mount enough pressure on the government to quit. Realistically speaking, so far the PTI has not even been able to appoint office-bearers for all tiers. The popularity of the party had been exposed a few months ago in a by-election on a provincial seat in Lahore. Imran Khan had personally addressed election rallies in the constituency. Still, the PTI candidate could not win. In other words, the party could not get a provincial assembly seat even after 16 years of its existence. (That Imran Khan was elected as an MNA in 2002 elections cannot be cited as an example of the captains popularity because everyone knows that the PTI chief and the PAT (Pakistan Awami Tehrik) chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri had been 'facilitated by the then establishment to prevent them from playing any role against Gen Musharraf). As things stand, the situation in the country is not conducive to fresh elections. So the opposition parties will have to go for an effective movement. Or, maybe some judgment of the Supreme Court changes the situation. The establishment is not expected to play any role whatsoever. It wants the political parties to take decisions on national issues. Under the leadership of Gen Kayani, the army had distanced itself from political matters even in 2008, when the general elections were held. A recent meeting of the corps commanders reaffirmed its decision to stay away from politics. It reiterated that decisions would be taken by the government and the armed forces would only follow them. So, it is for the political leaders to see how to steer the country out of the prevailing difficult situation.