• Imran retracts threat of resigning en masse from Punjab Assembly
• Ex-PM asks party leaders to coordinate with Moonis to ensure required numbers
LAHORE: Changing his mind, former prime minister Imran Khan has now agreed to put off the trust vote — to be taken by Chief Minister Parvez Elahi — until a court decision on the governor’s order seeking a vote of confidence in the Punjab Assembly.
The decision taken by Mr Khan on Saturday came in contrast to his earlier claims, wherein he along with party stalwart Fawad Chaudhry insisted that a vote of confidence must be held before the Jan 11 hearing at the Lahore High Court.
In a bid to convince Mr Elahi, the PTI chairman had also sent a delegation to the chief minister’s residence on Dec 24, but PML-Q leader and former federal minister Moonis Elahi had urged the PTI chief to wait for the court order.
Similarly, the Punjab CM, while publically contesting Imran Khan’s stance, stated that the governor’s order was in contravention of the law and Constitution and that taking a vote of confidence would actually validate the said order.
The statement had irked the former premier, who retorted that he would ask his party MPAs to resign en masse in case hurdles were created in the dissolution of the assembly.
In a consultative meeting with the Punjab ministers at his Zaman Park residence on Saturday, the former prime minister discussed the political situation and apparently reached the conclusion that his advisors were not offering him “sane advice” about the trust vote. It was agreed that the Jan 9 session of the assembly would not have the trust vote on its agenda.
Sources said Mr Khan was told that Jan 11 was also not ‘decision day’, but rather the beginning of the hearing on the petition challenging the trust vote and the removal of CM Elahi from office.
Sources disclosed that Mr Khan was infuriated that he was forced to retract his statements, but he also agreed with the provincial cabinet members that resigning en masse would not solve anything. The sources said a majority of the Punjab cabinet were of the opinion that the PTI should stay in the government and continue demanding fresh elections to pave way for political and economic stability in the country.
“The PTI should not opt for en masse resignations,” a PTI insider said. It was decided to dissolve the PA in a way that would force the government and the Election Commission to hold general elections, the source added.
During the meeting, Mr Khan also asked his ministers to ensure that they had the numbers required to win the trust vote, in case it is held. He also asked the party leaders to coordinate effectively with PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi to achieve the required number of votes, either for the trust vote or the run-off election of CM.
In light of the economic crisis, some ministers advised Mr Khan to quit the government after this month. The ministers suggested that PTI should stay away from the corridors of power since Pakistan was on the brink of default and the party should not take the blame for the wrongdoings committed by the PDM government and the powers-that-be.
Agreeing with the ministers that the PTI should quit Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies at the earliest, Mr Khan asked his party leaders and workers to get ready and prepare well for the next general elections.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2023