LAHORE: Responding to the opposition’s daily claims of having lured some ruling party lawmakers to its side, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) rubbished the rumours that several party MNAs have assured the opposition of their support on the proposed no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, on the other hand, claims that over 15 opposition lawmakers will go “missing” on the day the no-confidence motion is presented in the National Assembly.

“The PTI MNAs the opposition is boasting to have poached have vehemently rejected the claims and are ready to initiate legal action against opposition leaders,” said federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood while speaking at a news conference here on Saturday.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who accompanied Mr Mahmood, said their MNAs had also submitted privilege motions in the Lower House against their detractors.

Mr Mahmood, who is also the PTI’s Punjab president, regretted that PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari were explicitly indulging in horse-trading and justifying the dirty game. “The opposition has failed and will yet again fail in its endeavours to topple the PTI government,” he maintained.

To a question whether the PTI knew which of its MNAs were going to ‘sell’ their support, he swiftly responded that “not even a single one” would do so.

Referring to the so-called unity among the opposition, Mr Mahmood alleged some foreign hands had played their role in bringing those parties together. “If this is so, we vehemently condemn foreign interference in Pakistan’s internal matters,” he remarked, clarifying that he had only seen these rumours on social media that some foreign forces had played a role in bringing Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari closer.

The information minister stressed that all MNAs of the ruling party as well as allied parties were united under the leadership of PM Khan. “Opposition leaders will not be able to face the public when their proposed no-confidence motion is thrown out of the National Assembly,” he added.

Taking on the PPP, he said its ongoing long march shrunk as soon as it entered Punjab, adding that by the time it reached Rawalpindi it would be accommodated in even a cabin and offered tea. He, however, requested the PPP to adjust its protest in Rawalpindi accordingly so that international cricket, which has revived after 24 years, was not disrupted.

Mr Chaudhry also suggested the PPP leaders rescue the party from the Zardari family before making a decision about dislodging the PTI government.

He further claimed all opposition leaders were keeping an eye on each other as there was no trust among them. “Every opposition leader wants to take over the other to strike a deal with the establishment,” he alleged.

Answering a question about the return of PTI’s dissident leader Jehangir Tareen, Mr Chaudhry claimed to have spoken to the latter’s son Ali Tareen, who informed him his father was better and had returned home from the hospital. Mr Tareen, however, is not coming back to Pakistan contrary to the speculation about his return on Monday, he added.

KHATTAK: At a protest rally in his home district of Nowshera, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak said the opposition would face “embarrassment” when it presented the no-confidence motion against PM Khan in parliament.

According to a Geo.tv report, Mr Khattak said the opposition benches would remain empty the day the motion is tabled. “The (failure of) opposition’s no-confidence motion will help them reassess their worth,” he suggested.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2022

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