LAHORE: It appears the success of PML-N’s plan to push for an in-house change in the National Assembly through the opposition alliance front heavily relies on the hope that “hidden powers” do not intervene to thwart their attempt to dethrone Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Senior PML-N leader and MNA Javed Latif told The Express Tribune that when opposition parties could lose a no-trust motion against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani despite having a clear majority in the upper house, then why PTI, which has a razor-thin majority in the National Assembly, can’t lose a no-confidence resolution against Prime Minister Imran.
“If our [PML-N’s] plan is not intercepted by ‘hidden forces’ and if opposition parties are given a free hand to exercise their constitutional right, it would be an easy win,” said the PML-N leader.
Latif claimed that the opposition parties were in contact with “25 to 30 PTI leaders” for the move.
“We are also in contact with the PTI’s allied parties, and if given a free hand, we would have far more votes than we require,” he added.
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He said the decision to go for the said resolution would be made after developing consensus with all opposition parties, adding the same anti-government alliance front would then finalise the name of the candidate for the PM’s position.
“The ultimate plan is to go for elections to get a fresh mandate,” he added.
Earlier in August, the opposition parties were left red-faced after they failed to de-seat the chairman of the upper house, Sanjrani, bagging only 50 votes — three short of the required number – in their no-confidence motion despite having 64 votes in a house of 104 senators.
Treasury benches ruled out suspicions of horse trading or any external support and termed the vote from opposition benches as “voice of conscience”.
PML-N, Punjab spokesperson Azma Bukhari said, “When senators from opposition benches can vote against the will of the party on the pretext of ‘voice of conscience’, then why can’t the PTI and its allied parties’ MNAs vote against their leader on ‘voice of their conscience’.
She said if something could happen in the Senate, “why can’t it happen in the National Assembly”, indirectly alluding to the support of “hidden powers” that opposition parties blame for the Senate debacle.
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Former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair said Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party were “selected”, with high hopes that they would bring about an economic turnaround in the country but with the current state of affairs, “even a layman could tell that the PTI has failed on all fronts”.
He said all opposition parties reached a consensus that allowing Imran to function as the prime minister was not in the best interest of the country. “And it is going to take a collective effort to take Imran down,” said Zubair. “In Pakistan politics, numbers game is not a yardstick to determine success or failure whereas in this particular case, we have enough support from allied parties and within the PTI to triumph.”
A senior party leader, requesting anonymity, said things have started moving in the PML-N’s favour after a long time.
“In Pakistan, everything happens for a reason. Previously the Sharif family was entrapped in multiple cases but now they are getting ‘justice’ and even exceptional relief,” he said. “Gauging the direction in which the wind is blowing, we expect support from the establishment as it has had enough of the PTI and wants a national government.”
The National Assembly has a total of 342 members. The opposition parties, which currently have 156 seats, need a total of 172 votes for the approval of the no-confidence motion under Article 95 of the Constitution against the prime minister. On the other hand, the PTI with the support of allied parties and independent MNAs had formed a government with a slim majority of 176 votes. Of the total 176 votes, 20 were from allied parties and independent MNAs.
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