ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to present a ‘secret letter’ before parliament, as the National Assembly session will resume on Thursday (today) after a recess of three days, in the hope that his party dissidents as well as disgruntled PTI allies would change their mind after becoming aware of its content and reject the opposition’s motion of no-confidence against him.
The premier shared the letter with the cabinet members in a hurriedly called meeting, which was not attended by its two major allies — Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) — despite being invited, on Wednesday. It has been learnt that the letter was shown to the cabinet members on a TV screen.
Mr Khan also called a selected group of TV anchors and informed them that “the language of the letter was threatening and arrogant” and that Pakistan would face dire consequences if the no-confidence motion failed.
However, PM Khan did not show the letter to the media.
Meanwhile, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) met PM Khan twice on Wednesday, after which some ministers claimed that neither the premier had been asked to resign nor would he opt for it.
Hopes disgruntled allies would return after learning of ‘foreign threat’
In a tweet, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar stated: “If the parliamentary leaders from the government and the opposition side agree, the issue of the sensitive letter can be discussed at an in-camera meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.”
Also, former minister Faisal Vawda said the life of PM Khan was in danger.
“An in-camera session of the National Assembly or a joint sitting of parliament will be held in which the letter will be shared not only with the treasury benchers but also with those MNAs sitting on the opposition benches,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn when contacted.
Soon after the cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid and Mr Chaudhry told the media that PM Khan would not tender his resignation [even after losing majority in the NA after MQM’s departure from the ruling coalition] and would continue to fight “for the nation and the country till last ball”.
Mr Chaudhry said the prime minister apprised the cabinet members that through the letter threats with dire consequences had been given. “Such kind of threats cannot be tolerated by any country,” the minister quoted the premier as saying.
“Now the political situation of the country is similar to the situation that arose during the 1992 cricket world cup when it seemed that Pakistani team was losing but finally it became victorious,” Mr Chaudhry said.
Anchors’ meeting with PM
Some of the TV anchors invited by PM Khan said they had not been shown the letter due to the Official Secrets Act, but he shared its contents with them.
“It could easily be assessed by the PM’s statement that the letter was not the normal information usually sent by envoys through cable but was based on a meeting in which some officials of a foreign country threatened that if the opposition’s no-trust motion failed, Pakistan will face dire consequences,” said Geo News anchor Shehzad Iqbal.
Mr Khan, he said, was of the opinion that the disgruntled PTI allies, who were unaware of the letter, would return to the government when it would be presented before parliament. According to Mr Khan, he added, the letter mentioned it was not his government or state decision, but solely the PM’s decision to pay an official visit to Russia last month.
The PM told journalists that the document had been shared with army and intelligence chiefs as well.
Mr Khan also decided to address the nation on what he termed “an international conspiracy”, but Senator Faisal Javed told the media that the address had been cancelled as the premier was busy in important meetings. The senator believed the opposition would not be able to bring 172 MNAs on the voting day. “Captain [PM] and the nation will win,” he remarked.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the e-passport facility on Wednesday, PM Khan said the government would not bow before ‘foreign dictation’. “This is a foreign imported crisis. This is a conspiracy from abroad. The people who used to control Pakistan and get their demands accepted, just on phone call, against Pakistan’s national interests cannot tolerate or not in a habit of having a government in Pakistan making decisions in the country’s interests,” he added.
“People [may] think this is a drama going on. This is not a drama. As we just wanted to protect our national interests that is why we cannot disclose the people threatening us,” he added.
The PM said some people were unintentionally becoming part of the conspiracy. “I will also invite a representative from allied parties and share (letter) with them. I will tell them this document is real. This is a conspiracy even bigger than what I am saying. This is clear in the document,” he asserted.
He claimed that his government’s independent foreign policy was meant to keep the country’s interests supreme. The government allies were also independent to make their own decision, but while doing so, they should keep in mind whether they were becoming part of an international conspiracy against Pakistan, he added.
Calling the no-confidence motion a genuine political method, the prime minister said political crises were usual for parliamentary democracies.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2022