ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz on Sunday said that two dissident members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had been detained in a container for four hours before Saturday’s voting in the National Assembly, alleging that Prime Minister Imran Khan had managed the trust vote with the help of “secret agencies”.

“This is in our personal knowledge. Their [PTI’s] MNAs are in touch with us. Two MNAs who were not willing to vote for them [the government] till last moment were taken to a compound of an institution at Golra (Islamabad) and they were placed in a container for four hours. They were forced by the agencies’ people to vote for Imran Khan,” said Ms Nawaz while talking to reporters after attending an over-six-hour-long meeting of PML-N’s central leadership.

The party meeting was presided over by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif through video link from London, just a day before a crucial meeting of the heads of the 10-party opposition Pakis­tan Democratic Movement (PDM).

Flanked by senior PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Senator Pervaiz Rashid, the PML-N vice president alleged that before the voting in the assembly, the PTI members remained under surveillance throughout the night with the help of drones. She said the government had turned the Parliament Lodges, official residences of parliamentarians, into a “bunker”.

PDM meets today to finalise nominations for top Senate offices

Ms Nawaz said there was a consensus in the meeting that the vote obtained by the premier by using the country’s “secret agencies” and through “coercion and use of force” had no “constitutional, legal, political or moral” standing.

“The way the country’s secret agencies had been used is shameful. Are these agencies meant for saving a person who had made the lives of the people difficult?” she asked, adding that they would have to give a reply to the people of Pakistan.

“Where has gone the self-respect of a person who is sitting in the chair of the prime minister but has asked the head of the agency to help him get votes. Imran Khan, you know that your time is up. You know that it is over,” she said, adding that Mr Khan could not win the race in which he was running alone.

Ms Nawaz said the meeting had thoroughly discussed the strategy for the upcoming events, including elections of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, by-polls in Daska and Karachi and the proposed long march. She said the party supremo had approved the name of former finance minister Miftah Ismail as the candidate on the vacant NA-249 seat from Karachi. The seat fell vacant after the resignation of former minister and senator-elect Faisal Vawda.

Ms Nawaz refused to give replies to a number of questions regarding her party decisions about the candidates for the Senate chairman and the possible move of bringing no-confidence motion against Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and said they would put all their decisions before the PDM leadership in the meeting (today).

Condemning the attack on the party leaders by the PTI activists outside the Parliament House on Saturday, Ms Nawaz said PML-N workers would respond to such acts in the same manner with more force, as they could not tolerate humiliation of the party seniors.

The PDM leaders will meet on Monday (today) to finalise candidates for the offices of Senate chairman and deputy chairman.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2021

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