• Bilawal gives PM Khan 24-hour ultimatum
• Shehbaz to meet lawmakers today
• Fazl promises results ‘as per nation’s expectations’
ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: Stepping up their efforts to table a no-confidence motion against the government, the top leaders of the three opposition parties on Monday held a serious consultative session in the presence of their senior members and legal wizards and discussed the pros and cons of their possible move aimed at ousting Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Head of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif, accompanied by senior members of their parties, arrived at Zardari House in the federal capital to meet former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Asif Zardari to give final touches to their no-trust move plan, but left the venue without making any announcement.
The consultative meeting took place at a time when the PPP’s long march, headed by Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, was entering the limits of Rawalpindi district on GT Road on the last leg of the 10-day Awami March that began from Karachi on Feb 27. After a night stay at Rawat, the marchers plan to reach the famous D-Chowk in front of the Parliament House by Tuesday evening (today), where Mr Bhutto-Zardari is expected to make some important announcement.
While the Maulana and Mr Sharif left the venue along with their party members without talking to the reporters waiting outside Zardari House in a bid to get some breaking stories, PPP’s Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani did respond to a couple of questions while getting into his car to leave the venue.
Mr Gilani said the legal experts in the meeting gave a detailed briefing to them on the issue of the no-confidence motion and then the three top leaders had an exclusive meeting. He claimed that the opposition had completed its required numbers to make the no-confidence motion a success.
Asked if the opposition would move the no-confidence motion against National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser or Prime Minister Imran Khan, Mr Gilani said: “There are talks about the prime minister.”
However, he added, things would be clear by Tuesday when the PPP chairman leading the long march would arrive. He said there was no deadlock among the opposition parties on any issue and all the parties were on the same page. He neither confirmed nor denied if the opposition leaders would meet again on Tuesday.
PML-N’s Khwaja Asif, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ayaz Sadiq, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah and Marriyum Aurangzeb, while Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) leaders Akram Durrani and Asad Mehmood accompanied their party leadership to the venue.
Also, to give legal opinions, Farooq Naek from the PPP, Zahid Hamid from the PML-N and Kamran Murtaza from the JUI-F attended the meeting.
Former president Zardari was assisted in the meeting by Mr Gilani, Syed Naveed Qamar, Syed Khursheed Shah and Syed Murad Ali Shah.
In a statement, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif later said the no-confidence move was a public demand. To save national economy, inflation-hit people of Pakistan and the future of the nation, it was unavoidable to oust the PTI government, he said, calling it the first step towards betterment.
He said the ‘irresponsible and ill-informed rants’ by the PM regarding foreign policy were a matter of serious concern and could jeopardize the national interest of Pakistan. He was of the opinion that the state and Mr Khan were heading in two completely different directions. “Imran has destroyed his political capital and reputation, but he should not be allowed to damage Pakistan’s international political capital and reputation,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Maulana Fazl while talking to reporters after his meeting with PPP’s Khursheed Shah stated: “So far the information that we have shared is encouraging and God willing, the nation will see results that will meet their expectations.”
The Maulana told the media that the no-trust move would be tabled soon and it could happen even within 48 hours. When a reporter pointed out that the opposition had not given a final date for submitting the no-confidence motion, the Maulana quipped: “We have always played this game with you. We never share all details and keep some hidden. And this keeps you busy. [We are employing] that tactic here [as well].”
About PM’s warning to the opposition to be ready if the no-confidence motion against him failed, the Maulana said the move was a political process and “who is he to threaten us”.
In the evening, the PPP chairman addressing the marchers in Gujrat said the only demand and slogan from Karachi to Gujrat was “Go Selected Go”. He said PM Khan just had 24 hours left to resign and dissolve the assembly.
He said PM Khan’s speech against the European Union might cause a huge loss to the people of Pakistan. The “puppet Imran Khan” was harming the people even at the end of his rule by starting a dispute with Europe, he said.
He said Mr Khan had proved his incompetence in every aspect of the government as small farmers, traders, labourers and students had faced an economic murder at the hands of incumbent government that had increased country’s debt in last three years.
In a series of tweets, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz also declared that power was slipping out of the hands of Prime Minister Imran Khan as he is facing a reversal of fortunes.
“Students of life and politics are compelled to think today when the ‘Mountain of Arrogance and Smugness’ is reaching out to those with whom he considered it an insult to shake hand,” she tweeted.
In reference to recent speeches by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Ms Nawaz stated it was pitiful to see those who had been criminally indifferent for four years and ruined the lives of the inflation-hit masses because of incompetence crying in meetings all of a sudden. She wrote the person “who had used state machinery in attempt to split other parties was spending each and every moment to convince members [of the ruling party and its allies] to stay loyal to him. If this is not karma, then what is this? The students of life and politics, including me, must know that this is the fate of those who do not consider others human”.
The PML-N leader and daughter of deposed premier Nawaz Sharif, who has been in London since November 2019, further said that his associates never left him despite what she called ‘the worst victimisation by the PTI regime’, because he (Nawaz) always gave them respect.
She said PM Khan made the lives of the masses miserable through inflation, price hike, etc and seeing him “crying” in the public rallies carried a lesson for a student of politics like her as how such men who had no roots in the masses meet their fate at the end of the day.
Apparently commenting on the fate of the planned no-confidence move against the prime minister, Ms Nawaz said: “Only Allah Almighty knows what will happen tomorrow…but whatever is happening with Imran Khan (today) is nothing but karma. Those intoxicated by power face such a fate.”
The hawkish opposition leader further took on Mr Khan for using indecent language against his political opponents. “Imran seems to have lost his senses after seeing the power slipping out of his hands as he is not only using foul language against his political opponents but also against other countries, thus causing damage to Pakistan. This man should be shut in a room before he becomes a threat to the country,” she demanded.
PML-N parliamentary party meeting today
In an important meeting, scheduled to be held in Islamabad on Tuesday (today), PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif meanwhile will take into confidence all members of the National Assembly belonging to his party regarding the decisions taken by the nine-party opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to table a no-trust motion in the parliament against the premier.
A senior PML-N leader told Dawn on Monday that the PML-N parliamentary meeting was significant with regard to taking them into confidence about the ‘success’ of the proposed move. He said: “The opposition is likely to announce the date of tabling the no-confidence motion against the premier after this huddle and arrival of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in Islamabad leading his party’s long march.”
Waseem Ashraf Butt from Gujrat also contributed to the report
Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2022