ISLAMABAD: Beaming with confidence, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday predicted he would prevail over the opposition’s no-confidence move and definitely would have the last laugh, announcing that he still held a ‘trump card’ that would be revealed at the right time.
“Let me predict in clear terms that we will succeed in the no-confidence motion because the entire party and our workers are standing with us like a rock and even the debate raging on the menace of corruption and horse-trading has become a topic of household discussion,” the premier said while talking to a group of reporters at his office at the picturesque Prime Minister House.
The prime minister was accompanied by Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Parliamentary Affairs Adviser Dr Babar Awan, Special Assistant Shahbaz Gill, senior lawyer Chaudhry Faisal Hussain and others.
Why PPP chairperson and then prime minister Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, despite having at least 33 per cent vote bank in national politics, was removed in 1996, PM Khan questioned before asserting that it was because the “people were not with her” at that crucial time.
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With the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), however, it was an altogether different story, as its workers firmly stood with their leaders. Rather, more and more people were joining the party ranks, the premier said, adding that no ‘political animal’ could withstand such public opinion.
Attired in a traditional white shalwar suit with red rosary in his right hand, PM Khan recalled how the 1992 Pakistani cricket team, despite being the weakest, managed to clinch the world cup just because its captain was confident about victory from the very beginning. He said the opposition, under intense pressure, had exposed all their cards ahead of time, but nobody was aware what the government had in store for them.
The PM acknowledged that ruling party lawmakers were “openly being lured in” or “threatened” to desert the PTI-led government, but without elaborating upon his ‘trump card’, the PM said he had many options that would be made public a day or two before the voting.
He said the ever-rising tide of public opinion in his favour would scale up further on March 27 when the PTI government would stage the biggest-ever public rally in Islamabad. He said the government’s allies were also closely gauging the tide. He warned all lawmakers that it would be very difficult to face the public wrath, whosoever would go against the government.
A strong military
About the use of the word ‘neutral’ in his speech, PM Khan clarified that it was totally misconstrued because he meant to ask how one who enjoins the good and forbids the wrong could ‘remain aloof and impartial’ in society.
He was very bitter over the malicious campaign against national institutions, especially the army, saying the history of meddling into political affairs was not good but it was unfortunate that the institution had to face the onslaught sometimes in the shape of the Memogatescandal, among others.
“A strong army is the need of the hour,” the PM said. While citing the condition of some Muslim states, he said Pakistan was surviving only because of the powerful armed forces, otherwise, the country could have disintegrated into three.
“One should not malign the institution of army only to serve their political interest, especially at a time when we have an intolerant neighbour ruled by bigoted BJP and RSS,” he added.
Asked if he would resign before the vote on no-trust motion, the PM wondered why he should quit. “Should I resign due to the pressure of these ‘thieves’,” he said, adding the fight had just begun. He recalled his 25-year struggle to challenge the mafia and expressed the hope that their politics of ‘loot and plunder’ of the national wealth would soon end. “The crooked politicians were only puppets and dancing to the tune of others,” he remarked.
Whosoever believed that Imran Khan would sit idle if voted out of power lived in a fool’s paradise, he said.
Shrugging off the idea of sitting with Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, PM Khan said he would not sit with a ‘thief’. He then described JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman as the ‘12th player’ in a cricket team, saying time had come when he would be out.
About former minister Chaudhry Nisar, PM Khan claimed he had 40-year-long association with him. He conceded that he met him a while ago and said he would respect whatever decision he made.
The prime minister said the government had to move a reference before the Supreme Court to seek Article 63-A’s interpretation due to the inaction of relevant quarters over horse-trading during the Senate election, and the elections in Azad, Jammu and Kashmir, Khanewal and Lahore.
Corruption was the brand name of ‘the three stooges’ and allegations of mega corruption were at their credit, the PM said, reiterating that bags full of money had reached Sindh House.
Asked why his party members were openly venting their anger against the government, the PM said there was no parliamentary party in the world, except in the presidential form of governance, where there was no difference of opinion.
Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2022