Imran ‘trying to trigger civil war’, says opposition

Published April 3, 2022
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif speaks at a press conference in — DawnNewsTV
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif speaks at a press conference in — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif slammed Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday for “trying to divide the nation and pushing the country towards a civil war” — a sentiment shared by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who said it was unfortunate that “this defeated man [the premier] is making efforts to disrupt peace”.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Sharif urged all state institutions to ensure smooth voting on the no-confidence resolution in the Nat­ional Assembly scheduled for today (Sunday).

“It is the duty of all constitutional institutions to take measures within the ambit of the law and Constitution to ensure that members enter the house and cast their votes without facing any hurdle and that their votes are counted,” Mr Sharif said.

Alleging that the government was conspiring to sabotage the constitutional process of the no-trust motion, the PML-N leader said the capital’s administration and police should ensure law and order in the federal capital on Sunday.

He said that instead of accepting defeat, the premier seemed hell-bent on dividing the nation and sabotaging the voting on the no-confidence resolution against him. “The politics of Imran Khan to divide the nation will be buried tomorrow,” he said.

Pakistan could only move towards self-reliance and self-sufficiency by breaking the begging bowl, he said, regretting that a statement — “beggars can’t be choosers” — that he made earlier this week was being twisted and linked to the United States.

“Some friends tried to give this statement a twist, which is not correct,” he said, clarifying his much-criticised remarks. He said he wanted to say that Pakistan would have to break the begging bowl if the country and the nation wanted to exist with dignity and respect.

Mr Sharif reminded how Imran Khan was so fond of the United States and the former president Donald Trump, and expressed surprise that now all of a sudden, the premier was propagating this narrative of the US being a villain and conspirator against Pakistani democracy.

“Imran started by damaging Pakistan-China ties by criticising the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pervez Khattak started it, followed by Imran Khan and Assad Umar, who went overboard with false propaganda against the CPEC. They said the loans were taken from China at eight per cent, whereas not a single one was over 2.25pc, whereas the majority was not even loans and were investments by Chinese businessmen,” the opposition leader said.

He said Imran Khan did not stop there and went for another trusted friend of Pakistan when his foreign minister lashed out at Saudi Arabia. “And now [Imran] has gone straight for Washington,” Mr Sharif said.

Imran ‘trying to disrupt peace’

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the opposition had repeatedly asked the premier to take an honourable exit and accept his defeat.

“He should have tendered his resignation. Now that the voting [on the no-trust move] is taking place, it should take place in a peaceful manner. It is unfortunate that this defeated man is making efforts to disrupt peace,” he said while addressing a press conference at Zardari House, Islamabad, on Saturday evening.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari felicitated the nation on the arrival of the holy month of Ramazan, saying that “our sehri tomorrow will be in the ‘Naya Pakistan’, but iftari will be in the old Pakistan”. He said a journey towards electoral reforms and fair elections “will begin from tomorrow”.

He alleged that Prime Minister Khan was trying to incite violence — if not outside parliament, then inside it. The premier “will try to undermine a constitutional, democratic and peaceful transition of power by the show, display and use of force. This is a very serious issue. Parliament is our supreme institution. It represents the people of the country”, he said.

“It is unfortunate that no PM in the history of the country has been removed constitutionally. Now that we are driving out a PM democratically, no obstacle should be erected,” he said.

He said it was written in the Supreme Court’s own order that no one could stop an MNA from going to parliament. The Supreme Court has stated that no political party should call their workers to the Red Zone.

“Now, it is on record that the PM has given a call for protest today and tomorrow. For a while now, PTI’s Tiger Force and goons have been given the task to reach Islamabad. Different statements and audios of the defence minister and KP chief minister have been revealed in this regard,” the PPP chairman said.

He said the PM was worried that he would be targeted once ousted from power. “I will try to convince [PML-N leaders] Shehbaz Sharif and Rana Sanaullah to take no such action. However, if he tries to harm the democracy, I will ensure that he will not be spared.”

He said the PM intended to show or use violence to undermine our constitutional process. If this happens, “we will ensure that Article 6 [high treason] is applied.”

Govt ‘abusing speaker, president office’

Meanwhile, PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman while talking to reporters regretted that high-level constitutional offices were being used to keep an individual in power.

Accusing National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser of behaving like a “Tiger Force activist”, she said there were reports that the PTI had asked the speaker to count the votes incorrectly.

She said the government was also thinking of using the office of the president in its quest to escape the no-trust motion.

Ms Sherry Rehman said the Constitution was clear about the procedure for no-trust motion, and the government was trying to use all the delaying tactics to stick to power.

She said the government now wanted anarchy to get the National Assembly session suspended. “They wanted to set the whole country on fire after seeing their imminent exit,” she said.

Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani while speaking at a press conference asked Imran Khan to show sportsmanship and “accept the reality”.

He claimed that the opposition had the support of 197 MNAs — much higher than the number required to oust the prime minister.

Mr Gilani recalled that he immediately quit when he had been disqualified by the Supreme Court in 2012.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2022

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