No-trust vote: Cracks visible within coalition govt as ministers trade barbs

Published March 12, 2022
PML-Q's Moonis Elahi (L) and Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid traded barbs on Saturday, after the latter accused the former's party of "blackmailing" the government for Punjab's chief minister position. — APP/File
PML-Q's Moonis Elahi (L) and Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid traded barbs on Saturday, after the latter accused the former's party of "blackmailing" the government for Punjab's chief minister position. — APP/File
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid (R) addresses a press conference in Quetta. — DawnNewsTV
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid (R) addresses a press conference in Quetta. — DawnNewsTV

Cracks within the coalition government appeared visible on Saturday after Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid and Federal Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi traded barbs, with the former accusing the latter's party (PML-Q) of "blackmailing" the government for Punjab's chief minister position in return for support during the opposition's no-trust move against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Rashid, during a press conference in Quetta today, was asked where he would stand in case of the opposition's success in the no-confidence resolution against the premier. To this, he said his support for the prime minister was unequivocal and akin to a "rock" before taking a veiled jibe at PML-Q which became clearer when he clarified that he was speaking in the context of Punjab.

"I stand like a rock with Imran Khan," said the interior minister, who also has a separate party but is a government ally. "I am not responsible for anyone else. I am not like those people with five [seats in the NA] and who are blackmailing [the government] for the province's chief ministry."

Since the ruling PTI has allies from three provinces, the reporter asked at whom his criticism was directed. "I was talking about Punjab's politics," Rashid replied.

At this, PML-Q leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi hit back at Rashid, alleging that he "used to take money from the party's elders during his student life".

As per Dawn's sources privy to the matter, the PML-Q has asked the prime minister to announce Chaudhry Parvez Elahi the replacement of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar before calling the session of the National Assembly to take up the opposition’s no-trust motion. The demand is despite the party holding just five seats in the lower house.

“The PML-Q leadership has conveyed to the prime minister to announce Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi as the Punjab chief miister forthwith as this will help save the PTI government in Punjab in the face of ‘rebellion’ by the [Jahangir] Tareen group.

"Also the PML-Q will announce its open support for the premier and use its clout to scuttle the opposition’s move in the Centre,” the source told Dawn on Thursday.

“If the premier does not take a timely decision with regard to nominating Parvez Elahi for the Punjab chief minister’s slot, the PML-Q is free to explore other options,” the source had said.

'We can summon the army'

Speaking on Thursday's storming of the Parliament Lodges by Ansarul Islam, a uniformed volunteer force of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), and the subsequent police operation to control the situation, Rashid reiterated that no militia force would be allowed to interfere in Islamabad.

He also said that the security of Parliament House, Parliament Lodges, and old MNA House in Islamabad has been assigned to paramilitary Rangers and Frontier Corps (FC) on the day the NA votes on the no-trust motion.

He further said that the Pakistan Army could also be called according to Article 245 of the Constitution but "hopefully we won't and the need won't arise".

Rashid accused the opposition of setting up a "market" for buying and selling of votes and blackmailing the MNAs, adding that no matter how much money they spent, the premier would complete his term and defeat the opposition's move.

"[However], it is my prayer and wish that the matter (no-trust vote) is handled with grace and no accident occurs that they (opposition) regret all their lives."

Referring to the prime minister's warning on national television to the opposition in January that he would be even more dangerous for them if he was forced out of office, the interior minister affirmed that "he is indeed very dangerous."

Opinion

Editorial

The whole truth
28 Sep, 2022

The whole truth

THE war on truth has never been more relentless than it is today. Authoritarianism is on the rise and purveyors of...
Real-world trolls
Updated 28 Sep, 2022

Real-world trolls

It's reprehensible how PTI supporters now seem convinced that politicians from opposing camps aren't entitled to basic dignity.
Islamabad wildlife
28 Sep, 2022

Islamabad wildlife

PRESERVING biodiversity is low on the list of priorities of both state and society. However, successful attempts at...
Noon leaks
Updated 27 Sep, 2022

Noon leaks

PMO audio leaks are a national security emergency that ought to be investigated at the highest level.
Cipher probe offer
27 Sep, 2022

Cipher probe offer

CONSIDERING the toxic political polarisation in the country, former prime minister Imran Khan’s suggestion that ...
Delaying Doha plans
27 Sep, 2022

Delaying Doha plans

WHEN Doha announced its intention to spend $3bn in different commercial and investment sectors of Pakistan around a...