ISLAMABAD: After former prime minister Imran Khan announced his intention to dissolve the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the government played down his declaration as a “facing-saving” effort, while Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) leaders said Punjab CM Parvez Elahi would not think twice before dissolving the provincial assembly on the advice of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman.
The PTI chief announced on Saturday a change to his plan of marching on the capital, instead announcing his party’s intention to opt for mass resignations from the provincial assemblies, in an apparent bid to force the government’s hand.
Sticking by Mr Khan, Moonis Elahi said his father was able to become the chief minister of Punjab with the help of the PTI chairman and the PML-Q intended to keep its promises made to him.
“On July 27, Allah made us victorious and made @ChParvezElahi CM. Since that day our time in power is a bonus. We are sticking to our promise. Whenever @ImranKhanPTI asked [for dissolution], the Punjab Assembly will be dissolved,” he said in a tweet soon after the PTI chief’s statement.
Govt terms PTI chairman’s announcement ‘face-saving attempt’, admission of defeat
Similarly, PML-Q MNA Hussain Elahi also stated CM Elahi would not think twice before dissolving Punjab Assembly as soon as directed by the PTI chairman. In a tweet, Hussain Elahi stated that his party was standing with Imran Khan and would keep standing with him. “Whatever date is announced, CM Parvez Elahi will dissolve Punjab Assembly without giving it a second thought,” the PML-Q leader stated.
PTI leader Shaukat Yousafzai, a minister in the KP government, told Geo News the announcement made by Mr Khan was the only way to take the country out of the crisis. He said the KP lawmakers would resign instantly on Imran Khan’s call. He, however, did not say if the decision to resign from the KP assembly had been finalised.
Members of the federal government, on the other hand, took potshots at the PTI chairman for giving such a statement in a bid to save himself from “embarrassment” after an “anticlimactic” long march that apparently ended in Pindi instead of its original destination, Islamabad.
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari termed the statement a “drama”. “PTI face-saving flop show is anticlimactic. Unable to pull revolution crowds, failed at undermining appointments of new chiefs, frustrated, resorts to resignation drama,” said Mr Bhutto-Zardari.
“Imran’s demand from Pindi is not Azadi [freedom] but to be reselected,” he quipped, asking, “How long will KP&Punjab [provinces ruled by PTI] be used as political props?”
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the PTI chief’s announcement was akin to admitting defeat and saving himself and his party from “embarrassment”.
The PML-N leader stated that the opposition in Punjab and KP would not let the PTI dissolve assemblies and added that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would give the Imran-led party a tough time in KP. The minister assemblies should complete their tenure and elections should be held on time.
PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said the former prime minister will not go ahead with this move and claimed that the PTI chairman would take a U-turn on his announcement.
“By announcing to quit assemblies @ImranKhanPTI confesses that all his plans have come cropping down. National Assembly working without PTI MNAs. Punjab & KP assemblies can be dissolved but only if its CMs don’t face no-trust vote,” said PPP leader Farhatullah Babar.
He, however, agreed that the move by Mr Khan was a “reasonable face-saving strategy”.
PML-N leader Javed Latif also termed the statement of Mr Khan a “face-saving”. He could not force the government to provide him a face-saving so he resorted to the announcement of resignation from provincial assemblies. “They will never make the mistake of leaving the assemblies and if they resign from the assemblies we will use our constitutional options,” he added.
Mansoor Malik in Lahore also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2022