ISLAMABAD: In what could be its last cabinet meeting, the PTI government on Friday formed a commission to investigate a “threat letter”, which purportedly contains evidence of a foreign conspiracy hatched to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Mr Khan presided over the federal cabinet and PTI parliamentary party meetings on Friday, in which it was decided that some contents of the demarche sent by the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States regarding the “international conspiracy” would be shared with MNAs.
Meanwhile, Tariq Khan, a retired lieutenant general who was nominated by the government to head the commission, has regretted taking this responsibility “because of his concerns about [the letter’s] viability”.
“I have regretted. The commission cannot last beyond this government. The vote of no confidence will bring in the new government. They will dissolve the commission or not cooperate with it, making it dysfunctional,” he said. He also rejected rumours that he declined the job because of pressure. “No one can force me to do anything,” he asserted.
Retired lieutenant general asked to head commission excuses himself due to concerns about viability of ‘threat letter’
However, a cabinet member said Mr Tariq’s appointment was publicly announced only after he had consented to the appointment.
During the cabinet and PTI parliamentary meetings on Friday, it was suggested that all members of the treasury benches should submit their resignations to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.
Another suggestion was that the PTI should appeal against the Supreme Court’s decision that nullified the April 3 ruling of National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, in which he dismissed a no-trust motion against the prime minister.
It has been learnt that the cabinet also expressed displeasure over the Election Commission of Pakistan’s statement that it could not hold general elections before seven months.
Meanwhile, Mr Qaiser has summoned a session of the lower house of parliament on Saturday (today), with the no-confidence vote on the agenda.
Fawad laments SC ruling
After the federal cabinet meeting, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told reporters the government had decided to present the contents of the “threat letter” in the National Assembly today.
The minister told Dawn the original records of the cipher, only available with the government, could not be shared with the parliamentarians, and that only some of its contents would be brought out into the open.
He believed that sharing the contents of the letter “may shake the conscience” of the MNAs before voting on the no-confidence resolution.
“If, even after that, [the opposition] wants to go with the no-confidence vote, then the people of Pakistan will decide who’s standing where,” he said.
Informing that the commission would be headed by retired Lt Gen Tariq Khan, the minister also shared the terms of reference (ToRs) of the commission with the media.
As Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif had questioned the existence of the “threat letter”, the minister said it was included in the commission’s ToRs that it would determine whether the letter was genuine and contained any threats.
“The commission should also investigate recent meetings of foreign officials with the PTI dissidents MNAs ahead of the no-trust motion,” he said. The commission had been given 90 days to conclude its investigation over the “regime change plot”, he said.
The minister said although the letter was a secret document, it could be presented in parliament. However, a constitutional expert believed that such a secret document could only be shared during an in-camera session.
Lamenting the Supreme Court’s judgement on the deputy speaker’s ruling, Fawad Chaudhry said: “The supremacy of parliament has shifted to the Supreme Court.”
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told media persons after the cabinet meeting that he had suggested to the prime minister that all MNAs on treasury benches should give their resignations to the speaker. “I advised the prime minister to enforce an emergency and give resignations, and today I have again given the same suggestion,” he said.
‘Nation must protect sovereignty’
Later, Prime Minister Khan, during an interview on a private TV channel on Friday, said the nation would have to safeguard its sovereignty at a time when the country was faced with a regime change conspiracy.
“At a time when the conspiracy of regime change is being hatched, the nation will have to protect its sovereignty. Who else will do it?” he said.
The prime minister said a nation of 220 million people was unfortunate to have the leaders with a mindset of “beggars can’t be choosers”.
“The nations always emerge through self-esteem… Pakistan has great potential. This nation will rise anytime. We are yet on the course to become a nation,” he remarked.
To a question, the prime minister said the state of Madina could not be replicated in Pakistan all of a sudden. Though very few people led every struggle initially, the whole nation would have to ultimately play its role, he said. Unfortunately, the country’s education system never taught youngsters Seeratun Nabi (life of Prophet Muhammad PBUH) and it needed to be rectified, the premier said.
Baqir Sajjad Syed also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2022
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