Don’t try anything unconstitutional, opposition warns govt

Published April 2, 2022
Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif gestures during a press conference on Friday.— Tanveer Shahzad / White Star
Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif gestures during a press conference on Friday.— Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

• Shehbaz accuses PM of staging ‘drama of international conspiracy’
• Bilawal says consequences will be severe if lawmakers stopped from going to parliament

ISLAMABAD: With the voting on no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan coming closer, top opposition leaders have warned the government against any unconstitutional or undemocratic step to obstruct the democratic move.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif accused the prime minister of staging a drama of international conspiracy and said the so-called ‘threatening letter’ received from America was the last ditch effort to escape the no-confidence resolution against him in the name of national security threat.

“You [Imran Khan] are doing so because your defeat is imminent on Sunday and you are seeing the writing on the wall,” he remarked.

While speaking at a press conference here on Friday, Mr Sharif claimed that the Imran Khan-led PTI came into power through massive rigging, but the combined opposition opted for a constitutional and democratic way to throw him out.

The opposition leader wondered why the prime minister did not raise the issue of communication received from America immediate after March 7. “Where did you spend those three weeks? You did not take the issue to the National Security Committee and waved the letter at a public meeting on March 27.”

Mr Sharif also asked if Pakistan received the ‘threatening letter’ from America then why the US delegation was invited to the OIC Conference of Foreign Ministers. “Our foreign minister then also said we are establishing new relations between the OIC countries and America,” he said, adding that the foreign minister also talked about celebrating 75 years of Pakistan-US diplomatic relations.

He said the Imran Khan government also strained relations with countries like China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. He said it were the government ministers who levelled charges of corruption against Chinese firms while the foreign minister stated that Pakistan could fight the Kashmir case without the support of Saudi Arabia.

Responding to a question, Mr Sharif said the PML-N government never raised slogans of accountability, but by the grace of Allah no case of corruption surfaced during Nawaz Sharif’s tenures despite the fact that trillions of rupees were spent on development and welfare projects.

He told a questioner that the first action of the combined opposition on assuming power would be to provide relief to the masses and make some important announcements in this connection.

Shehbaz Sharif also received a phone call from PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif during the press conference and told him that he was present at a briefing and would call him later. “He was no other than Nawaz Sharif and he will return to the country soon on completion of his treatment,” he said when asked by a reporter.

Severe consequences

Speaking at a separate press conference, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said there would be “severe consequences” if the PTI government tried to stop any MNA from going to parliament.

He said Article 6 of the Constitution would come into play in case somebody tried to subvert, sabotage or undermine a constitutional process through use of force. He said the same would also apply to the National Assembly speaker.

The PPP chairman advised PM Khan to honourably face the no-confidence motion instead of hurling threats.

Chiding Imran Khan for saying he will not accept defeat, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said it was just like a player crying and rolling on a pitch when the match was already over. He said the prime minister had attacked the country’s foreign policy with his narrative of an international conspiracy against him. “The PTI government’s policies have isolated Pakistan globally.”

He said if the alleged ‘threatening letter’ was such a serious issue, it should have been brought to light immediately. “The PM is using the alleged letter to save himself; his actions are tarnishing the image of Pakistan as well as national institutions.”

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the prime minister had pursued the most compromised and weak foreign policy throughout his over three years in power, pointing out that he had cancelled foreign trips on receiving phone calls. He said that not only the progress on CPEC had been slowed down, two of his cabinet members also tried to make the project controversial through a “propaganda campaign”.

“Why would international forces conspire against a government that has done nothing?” he asked.

He also took exception to what he called use of the National Security Council for political mileage and said it showed how immature the premier was. “A platform like NSC should only be to discuss national security crisis and not for political point scoring,” he said, adding that Mr Khan had in fact tried to make the forum controversial.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2022

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