PTI govt minister sent threat night before no-trust vote against Imran: Bilawal

Published May 12, 2022
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks on the floor of the National Assembly on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks on the floor of the National Assembly on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday claimed that a night before the National Assembly (NA) passed the no-confidence motion against former prime minister Imran Khan, one of his ministers had threatened him to either accept early elections or face martial law.

"I would like to share with this house that the night before the no-confidence motion [was passed], I was sent a message, a threat that either we accept early elections or face martial law," he said on the floor of the NA, adding that this threat was conveyed to him by a government minister via a colleague.

Bilawal went on to say that the threat was an attempt to foil the no-confidence motion against the former prime minister which, despite the provocations of the PTI, was successful within the parameters of the law and the Constitution.

PTI Central Information Secretary Farrukh Habib later responded to FM Bilawal's claim and said he should have named the minister who had given the alleged threat.

The foreign minister said that Imran and the PTI were still adopting the same strategy where they were trying to create political instability and making irresponsible attacks so that one of two things could happen: early elections without the necessary reforms or that an undemocratic step is taken.

"We should all make efforts to foil this conspiracy. We will all have to come together and work hard to foil this conspiracy and save the country."

Bilawal also made his party's policy on the future of the country clear, declaring "first reforms, then elections". The minister maintained that the party did not believe in political engineering and desired free and fair elections.

"This has always been our position."

He stated that electoral reforms were a two-step process, where first the "undemocratic" bills and ordinances passed during the PTI government's tenure needed to be repealed before passing any new legislation.

"We will have to sit together and brainstorm about the electoral reforms we want to bring. For that, [there is] civil society, the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) and many other communities which we can engage with [...] to ensure that what happened in the 2018 elections does not happen again."

He went on to say that the country's political parties were in consensus over the Charter of Democracy (CoD) — a 36-point document signed by the PPP and PML-N in May 2006. The foreign minister said that while there was work remaining on the implementation of the CoD and a long way to go before a second such document was made, there should at the very least be a "minimal code of conduct".

"There should be a minimal code of conduct for parties that are present here and those that are not, which begs the question: What kind of politics do you want to do?"

He called for taking all political parties on board for this basic code of conduct, warning that failure to do so would result in "bloody" elections.

"The polarisation that is being seen in the country [...] if all political parties don't agree on a basic code of conduct before the next elections, then our next election will be bloody."

Bilawal calls for formation of parliamentary probe body

During his speech, the foreign minister also turned his guns towards the conduct of the PTI and called for the formation of a parliamentary body to investigate the events that occurred post-April 3 — when the former NA deputy speaker had dismissed the no-trust move against Imran by terming it contradictory to Article 5.

"The situation in Pakistan is at a crisis point. There are no doubts about this," he said, noting that all institutions in the country were made controversial over the whims of the former premier.

He alleged that instead of facing the no-trust move brought through democratic means, Imran had resorted to violating the Constitution and attacking democracy on his way out.

"All these people, the former prime minister, the deputy speaker, the president, on the night of April 3, on the night of April 9 and 10 and from April 10 till now, they are violating the Constitution and refusing to follow it [...] how can the NA ignore such attacks?"

He maintained that the it was the PPP's stance that the NA should form a high-level parliamentary commission/committee to investigate the events leading up to the no-confidence motion and all that has been happening since. The minister called for taking these "attacks" seriously to uncover those involved.

"As far as April 3 is concerned, the Supreme Court made it clear in its verdict that it was unconstitutional. But the way the court's directives were flouted [...] the people of Pakistan expect accountability."

Bilawal maintained that it was imperative to get to the bottom of these events in order to strengthen democracy and restore the respect of the lower house of parliament.

He claimed that because these events were ignored and no action was taken, the former prime minister was thinking of himself as a "sacred cow". "He is traipsing around the country and presenting himself as a sacred cow, and doing things that are against our national interests, our Constitution and our international standing."

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