LAHORE: The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Friday announced moving a no-confidence motion against the Imran Khan government and persuading allies of the ruling party for the purpose. However, it has yet to decide the right time to do so.
The nine-party opposition alliance, which in its last meeting in January had dropped the idea of a no-trust motion against the PTI government, met here on Friday and reached a consensus on ousting PM Khan through the move.
The PDM’s decision came on the heels of the PML-N senior leadership’s announcement that “for the first time” it was seriously considering a no-trust move against Imran Khan.
The alliance believes the time is ripe to strike, as “the umpire seems neutral”. However, it did not announce any clear time-frame for making the move.
“In today’s meeting, we decided to introduce a no-confidence motion against the government. The government’s allies will be contacted and persuaded to part ways with it seeing the public sentiment (against the PTI government),” PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman told journalists after the meeting.
He said a no-trust move could be initiated in the Centre, Punjab or Senate, except Sindh. “No time-frame can be given at this stage as we have to do our homework.”
The Maulana, who is also the chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, made it clear that “no individual (lawmaker)” from the ruling PTI would be contacted by the opposition, hinting that their doors were open for other groups, including the dissidents led by Jehangir Khan Tareen.
Replying to a question whether he believed the establishment was neutral, he said: “The umpire is usually neutral,” adding: “Earlier, the game was in someone’s hands, but not anymore.”
Terming the role of the government’s allies in moving the no-trust motion “very vital”, the JUI-F chief said: “The allies’ (PML-Q, MQM-P and BAP) support is very important to dislodge the government. We want them to quit the alliance for the people’s sake.”
To another question, he said the PDM trusted the PPP for the purpose. “One has to have a big heart for making big decisions,” he said with reference to the PPP’s parting of ways with the opposition alliance over the issue of en mass resignations from assemblies. Besides the no-trust move, he said, the PDM would go ahead with its long march (against inflation) on Islamabad on March 23.
PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, who was accompanying the Maulana during the media talk, said the PDM had taken the decision over “pressure from the masses” who wanted to get rid of this government that had made their lives miserable, and to steer the country out of multiple crises. “People are looking to us,” he said.
Former premier Nawaz Sharif attended the meeting via a video link from London.
The PML-N and PPP have already launched what appear to be serious efforts to take on board the PTI dissident group led by sugar baron Jehangir Tareen. The group claims to have the support of 30 MPAs (from south Punjab) and eight MNAs.
A PML-N insider told Dawn that the party was ready to offer tickets to the Tareen group in return for its support in parliament to oust PM Khan. “Backdoor contacts with the JKT group have been made by both PML-N and PPP, and in the coming days if this group gets the signal from the quarters concerned it will support the opposition’s final push to send the PTI government packing,” he said.
So far, the opposition’s efforts to woo the government allies – PML-Q, MQM and Balochistan Awami Party – have not borne fruit, as the parties seek more clarity in this regard.
PML-N senior vice president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had earlier said the purpose of the opposition would be served only if Prime Minister Imran Khan was sent home through a no-trust move in parliament.
PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah, while talking to reporters on Friday, claimed the opposition had achieved the required numbers (of lawmakers in parliament) to oust the Imran Khan government.
“Even more (PTI) MNAs than required are interested to join us, but we will decide whom we have to bank on. The number game is not an issue for us anymore,” Mr Sanaullah declared and added that the date to table the no-confidence motion against the premier or anyone else (Punjab chief minister, National Assembly speaker or Senate chairman) would be decided by Nawaz Sharif and the PDM leadership.
Replying to a question whether the PDM received a “signal from the umpire”, he said: “We don’t need the umpire as we have our own political agenda.”
The PML-N’s senior leaders have been claiming the support of over 20 allegedly disgruntled MNAs of the PTI.
Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2022
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