PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Sunday alleged that the government had used the help of secret agencies to secure support for Prime Minister Imran Khan's vote of confidence and that two MNAs who had resisted the pressure were "locked up in a container for four hours" and forced to vote in the premier's favour.
Addressing a press conference after a party meeting attended by all senior PML-N leaders, Maryam claimed that government lawmakers were "in touch" with her party and alleged that the agencies had "made people disappear" on behalf of the prime minister ahead of Saturday's trust vote.
Prime Minister Imran was prompted to seek the vote after the ruling coalition suffered an upset in the March 3 Senate elections on the seat for the federal capital where Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh lost to the joint opposition candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani. The premier won the vote of confidence with 178 ballots cast in his favour — six more than required.
The vote taken by the prime minister "has no legal, Constitutional, political or moral value", Maryam claimed today, asking the government how the MNAs who voted for Gilani in the Senate polls could change their minds in only two days.
"They (the MNAs) did not change their decision, they were forced to change it," she said, claiming that the government had kept a watch on each MNA using "drone cameras".
"It has come to our personal knowledge that two MNAs who were not ready to vote for [the prime minister] until the last moment were taken to the compound of an institution in Golra (near Islamabad), kept locked up in a container there for four hours and were forced by personnel of agencies to vote in favour of Imran Khan," she claimed.
Maryam neither identified the source of her information nor named the MNAs who were allegedly subjected to this treatment.
"The way you used Pakistan's secret agencies for your benefit is very shameful. Is this all agencies in Pakistan are left for? Will their role from now on be to throw their institution into politics in order to protect a man who is being rejected by the people?" she asked, saying the Pakistani people and the PML-N demanded answers to these questions.
She claimed that Prime Minister Imran knew he would be "lose badly" if the agencies allegedly hadn't helped him.
Maryam said the vote of confidence taken forcibly from own lawmakers and after kidnapping them and making them "inaccessible" meant that "Imran Khan, you know that your time is up. You know that it is over for you."
Speaking to Geo News, Information Minister Shibli Faraz dismissed Maryam's allegations as "rubbish", saying the opposition had suffered "political embarrassment" because its claim that the prime minister would not receive enough votes of confidence had turned out to be false.
He said instead of making allegations and telling "lies", Maryam should produce the two MNAs who were allegedly detained. "They are not invisible people ... identify them," he told the PML-N leader.
Faraz said if the government wanted to take the agencies' help, it would have done so in the March 3 elections.
Maryam in her presser also said the PML-N members had "expressed a lot of anger" over yesterday's incident outside Parliament House where a number of senior PML-N leaders were allegedly manhandled by PTI supporters.
The party will not take such behaviour "lying down", she added, saying the PTI would have to "pay a heavy price" for the same. "If you slap us twice, we will slap you 10 times. The hooliganism the PML-N leadership was subjected to yesterday ... is a debt on every PML-N worker which the PML-N knows well how to pay off," she said, addressing the ruling party.
She also revealed that the PML-N members during today's meeting had agreed with consensus to field former finance minister Miftah Ismail as the party's candidate for the NA-249 Karachi by-election. She said a formal announcement in this regard will be made by the party president. The seat fell vacant after PTI lawmaker Faisal Vawda resigned from the National Assembly before his election as a senator.