Rattled PM scrambles to find support

Published March 9, 2022
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the nation in this file photo. — Photo courtesy of Imran Khan Instagram
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the nation in this file photo. — Photo courtesy of Imran Khan Instagram

ISLAMABAD: The prime minister spent a busy day in the capital after the opposition’s no-confidence move finally came to pass, vowing to defeat the move that will make the government stronger.

However, the developments unfolding among the ruling circle and in the Prime Minister House on Tuesday indicated the government is anxious and making all attempts to foil the opposition’s move to oust the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) regime.

Besides meeting Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, whose removal has been sought by the PM’s (former) closest confidants in the party, Mr Khan also met Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan and sought his legal opinion on the no-confidence motion.

The premier is also leaving for Karachi on Wednesday (today) where he is scheduled to meet leaders of the PTI’s allied parties — Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Grand Demo­cratic Alliance — and party leaders in Sindh.

Imran seeks legal opinion on no-trust from AGP, will meet allies in Karachi today

He also met a number of legislators separately at PM House and discussed issues in their constituencies and uplift projects.

Soon after the opposition submitted its no-confidence motion in the National Assembly Secretariat, the PM met a number of digital journalists and stated confidently he was going nowhere and that he did not fear the opposition’s move.

When contacted, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn the prime minister was quite confident that the opposition would face disappointment and the government would become stronger after he regained confidence in the NA.

The PM was quoted as saying: “The government will not be ousted, and will emerge stronger.”

Mr Khan also said he was happy this would be the opposition’s ‘last attempt’ to oust him. “We will defeat them in such a way that they will not be able to recover from it until 2028,” he maintained.

About estranged PTI leader Jehangir Tareen, PM Khan told digital journalists he was confident his old friend would never join the opposition’s camp. “I know he will never join these robbers,” he hoped.

The PM also said there were “multiple foreign hands” backing the opposition, adding he was completely prepared to handle the political situation. Referring to himself, he said: “A captain doesn’t reveal his strategy all at once.”

He also alleged that lawmakers were offered bribes of Rs180 million. “I told them to take the money from them [the opposition] and distribute it among the poor,” he added. Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s sons had offered money to lawmakers, but nobody took any action — in an apparent reference to a video showing Ali Haider Gilani explaining to lawmakers how to cancel their votes prior to the Senate chairman’s election.

The premier said those who did not want an independent foreign policy were supporting the opposition. He reiterated that the Pakistan Army would never support “these thieves” [opposition leaders]. “The opposition does not have the support of the people so they say the establishment is with us,” he added.

He remarked: “What will happen if the no-trust move does not succeed? A mind game is being played, and I am the master of mind games.”

In a tweet, Mr Chaudhry said Pakistan only had one leader: Imran Khan and the opposition would be defeated despite its joint efforts.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill sarcastically welcomed the no-trust motion, and quoted the premier as saying he would fight against this “buying and selling”.

“Imran Khan will not give an NRO to these thieves under any circumstances. Imran Khan is ready for the challenge,” he said, adding he would deal a fatal blow to the opposition. “The whole nation stands with (Imran) Khan.”

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2022

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