LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan reportedly reached out to estranged Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen on Saturday in what appears to be a bid to ensure he hasn’t lost his old friend to the opposition, which has been making overtures towards the disgruntled PTI stalwart for supporting a possible no-confidence motion against the premier.
Similarly, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani approached the government’s important ally, the Chaudhry of the PML-Q, to read their mind about the ongoing parleys with the opposition.
When asked to comment on the premier getting in touch with Mr Tareen to inquire after him, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said: “I can neither deny nor confirm this.”
However, the minister was of the view that the opposition was bound to bite the dust at the end of the day in its effort to oust PM Khan. “It is hard to understand the opposition’s agenda, which is so complicated that even its own members are confused,” Chaudhry remarked.
PML-N claims PM has prepared summary to dissolve assembly
On the other hand, Mr Tareen left for London for treatment as he has apparently not been well lately. A source told Dawn that before his departure, PM Khan telephoned and inquired after him. “It was a good gesture by PM Khan and may help restore the relations between them,” he said.
“Who knows, PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif and Tareen may even establish direct contact with each other with both being in London,” the source said. The relations between Khan and Tareen had soured following the sugar scam.
PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif also expressed his concerns over the health of Mr Tareen and prayed for his speedy recovery.
On Friday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had claimed to have requested the premier to talk to his “old friend”, but some PTI members did not approve of the idea. “If rivals can meet after 14 years (a reference to Shehbaz and Chaudhrys of the PML-Q), why can’t Imran meet Tareen, as they both are friends?” he had questioned.
Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak also claimed that seven opposition MNAs were in contact with the ruling party and at an appropriate time he would announce how to bring the opposition members to their side. Khattak believed the allies would remain loyal to the PTI.
After meeting the Senate chairman in Lahore, PML-Q senior leader and Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi said: “The people had given a five-year mandate to the PTI government and we will not allow parliamentary traditions to be trampled.”
He said every democratic government had the right to be allowed to complete the period given for public service, adding the ongoing consultations and meetings were part of the political process. “Any decision will be taken after consultation with the parliamentary party. In the current political situation, national interest is supreme and we have a keen eye on the changing political climate; we want practical steps to be taken to provide immediate relief to the people,” Mr Elahi stressed.
Senate Chairman Sanjrani hoped the Chaudhrys would find a way out in this political milieu since they were keeping a close watch on the ever-developing scenario. He also inquired after PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.
PML-N claims PM to dissolve NA
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Saturday claimed Prime Minister Imran Khan has prepared a summary to dissolve the National Assembly in anticipation of the opposition’s no-confidence move.
“Imran Khan has prepared and signed a backdated summary to dissolve the National Assembly in the wake of the no-confidence motion,” PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah told reporters.
He said the PML-N, PPP and JUI-F had completed their homework regarding the no-confidence move and sought a final say of Nawaz Sharif. “The PTI members (with whom the opposition is in contact) and government allies are awaiting the decision of Mr Sharif. Even Imran Khan is waiting for his (Sharif’s) decision,” Sanaullah claimed.
He further said the “political drone attack” Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had claimed PM Khan would commit in the coming days was, in fact, the dissolution of the assembly.
Meanwhile, Balochistan National Party-Mengal chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal called on Shehbaz Sharif at his residence in Model Town and discussed the no-confidence motion against the premier and other matters.
“The preparations regarding no-confidence motion are under way and we will move it at an appropriate time,” Shehbaz said. In reply to a question, the National Assembly opposition leader said: “God knows better about the success of the move.”
Mr Mengal said his party was a part of the opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement, and it was taken on board in all decisions. The issues of Balochistan should be solved through political wisdom. He also raised the issue of missing persons and sought its solution.
Sounding confident and determined about the opposition’s renewed campaign against the PTI government, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari claimed Prime Minister Khan will not survive the vote of confidence if the establishment chose to stay neutral. He asked the premier to step down to avoid the public wrath and a defeat in parliament.
Responding to a question after his press conference at Bilawal House, Karachi on Saturday, however, the PPP chief appeared a bit skeptical about the establishment’s role in the emerging political developments, but made it clear that whatever the results of the no-trust motion, his party would continue its struggle. “The PPP believes in the politics of issues without caring for others’ role and viewpoint,” he stressed.
The opposition must struggle for a one-point agenda --- get rid of Imran Khan – for which they should be on one page and formulate a joint strategy, he maintained. He hoped the institutions would remain impartial amid “a deteriorating economy, failure on the foreign front and fast declining social and cultural norms”.
About the PPP’s long march on Islamabad starting on Sunday (today) from Mazar-i-Quaid, Bilawal said it would not only mobilise the people of Pakistan, but also rekindle the hope that their problems, poverty and fast-collapsing democracy could be saved. He insisted the solution to all problems now lied in fresh and fair elections.
“So I demand Imran Khan to step down if he wants to avoid people’s anger and a defeat in parliament [vote of confidence],” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said.
Led by foreign minister and PTI senior vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Haleem Adil Sheikh and Iftikhar Ahmed Lund, the ruling party in the Centre launched its march on Karachi from the Ubauro town of Ghotki district in Sindh on Saturday. Thousands of supporters are said to have participated in the procession.
Addressing the march at Ubauro, Qureshi warned the Sindhi-speaking community against the exploitation of the province by the PPP and suggested the population wake up to the excess with them.
“No programme, no development, no jobs or any industry or agricultural development has been made by the PPP in the 15 years (it has ruled the province).”
He said the large number of participants in the march proved they trusted PM Khan and claimed the PTI would form a government in Sindh after the 2023 general elections.
Mr Sheikh and Mr Lund also spoke on the occasion before the latter slipped from the container they were on and was admitted to a Pano Aqil hospital for injuries.
Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2022