ISLAMABAD: Claiming that there has been a deadlock among the opposition parties over their plan of bringing a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced on Sunday that the federal and Punjab governments would provide complete security to the participants of the long march under PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s leadership when it would enter Punjab.
The interior minister made the claim during a brief news conference in Islamabad on the day Mr Bhutto-Zardari reached Badin from Karachi on the first leg of a 10-day long march, titled “Awami March”, to Islamabad.
At the same time, the participants of the “Haqooq-i-Sindh March” started by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) from Ghotki to Karachi two days ago against the Sindh government on Sunday reached Jacobabad after passing through Shikarpur and Kandhkot-Kashmore.
PTI’s Haqooq-i-Sindh march against PPP govt reaches Jacobabad
PTI’s vice chairman and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi while addressing the participants said that their party had buried the PML-N and the PPP in Punjab in the last general elections and this massive march heralded an end to the Zardari era in Sindh.
Mr Qureshi alleged that the PPP during its 15-year rule had ruined the province and devastated its people. The march would resume its journey to Larkana on Monday morning (today).
Rashid ridicules Bilawal
Speaking at the news conference, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said that Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was not capable of pulling off its planned long march towards the capital.
“Bilawal sahib, it is not in your capability that you are staging a long march for 10 days for the prime minister’s resignation,” he said, adding that the PPP chairman was not a “material” to launch a protest movement.
“Come to Lal Haveli. We will give you a resignation,” he said with a laugh, referring to his own office-cum-residence in Rawalpindi.
The minister claimed that there was a group of 12 people within the opposition parties which might back off from their support.
“All these self-interested people have united against Imran Khan, who will carry out a political cyberattack at the right time. You will get to know, you are underestimating Imran Khan,” he said.
He said there had been a deadlock among the opposition parties as they were still undecided as to against whom and where they should move the no-trust motion. He welcomed the opposition’s assertion that the establishment was neutral this time.
He, however, said that the interior ministry would disconnect the telephone lines of the place where the opposition members would be kept before a vote on the no-trust motion so that they could not blame the “telephone calls” for the failure of their move.
Mr Ahmed said the opposition’s movement would fail and it would instead strengthen the prime minister. He claimed that government allies would continue to support Mr Khan.
“Leave our allies. They are with us and will remain with us and Imran Khan,” he said, adding that the government has full confidence in its allies.
The minister said the government would create no obstacles for the PPP’s long march. He said he had had a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and they had decided that the provincial and federal governments would take care of the march and provide them complete security.
He claimed that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would not be able to hold a long march on March 23.
APP adds: During a media talk at Pind Dadan Khan, federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said the “leaderless and aimless” alliance of the opposition parties posed no serious threat to the democratically elected PTI government.
“We have been hearing for the last 15 to 20 days that the no-trust move was around the corner, but in reality that is beyond their power as they lack the capacity to bring the motion,” he said.
Describing the opposition's current endeavour to oust the government as futile, he said their leaders just wanted to keep their members engaged politically.
As regards to the long marches of the opposition parties, he said it seemed the PTI would have to provide them people for their face-saving and political survival.
To a query, he said PTI leader Jahangir Tareen stood by the party and would continue to support the government.
Commenting on the meetings between the government allies and the opposition leaders, he said the politicians took their decision by reviewing evolving politics and future political discourse.
He said the opposition leaders had no credibility within the country and abroad due to their corrupt practices.
Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2022