After several dissident lawmakers of the ruling PTI were found staying at the Sindh House in Islamabad, indicating that they would go against their party in the upcoming no-confidence vote, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday termed the move a “conspiracy” and vowed to fight it, saying the “people were standing with him”.
The premier’s statement came at a time when the joint opposition last week submitted a no-trust motion against him with the National Assembly Secretariat, and the Pakistan Democratic Movement announced a long march to Islamabad on March 25.
Earlier in the day, footage of dissident PTI MNAs staying at Sindh House in Islamabad made rounds on TV with the lawmakers saying they would vote on the no-confidence motion in "accordance with their conscience".
In response, PM Imran, in a statement, said that he would “fight the conspiracy”, noting that the “people were standing with him”.
The premier said he would “never bow down before horse-trading” – a reference to the alleged buying of ruling party MNAs’ loyalties by the opposition parties.
A trio of key government ministers also held a news conference in the federal capital stating that legal proceedings had been initiated against the dissident PTI MNAs under Article 63-A of constitution.
“Some members of the PTI are saying that they will vote [on the no-trust motion] in accordance with their conscience. I want to tell those ‘shameless’ people that the people voted for them in the name of [PM] Imran Khan,” said Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry who was flanked by Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar and Energy Minister Hammad Azhar.
“They (dissident lawmakers) should tender resignation and contest the election again if they have any grievances against the party leadership,” the information minister added.
“It is heartening [to know] that the turncoats have come out in the open so quickly.”
Fawad maintained though the central leadership of the PTI was receiving calls from the “enraged” party workers belonging to the constituencies of dissidents, the party asked them not to take the law into their hands.
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"As per Article 63 (A) (1), if a party leader comes to a conclusion that a member of his party has defected, then he can move a reference for their disqualification," he said.
In a reference to the scandalous politics, the information minister alleged that the Sindh House in Islamabad had become another “Changa Manga” where the “loyalties” of parliamentarians were being “purchased by the opposition traders” like “horses” and mules”.
“It is astonishing that huge sums of money were shifted in planes from Sindh where the people are deprived of basic facilities like clean drinking water,” he said.
“As of now, I am not certain whether they [PTI dissident lawmakers] are kept in Sindh House under any pressure or not.”
Quoting PM Imran, Fawad stressed that the PTI would not resort to blackmailing, wheeling and dealing, or horse trading to save its government as it “negated the promise the party had made with the people before the general elections”.
“Our real target is the D-Chowk, Islamabad where biggest gathering of the country’s history would be held on March 27,” he said, adding that the government would foil the no-trust motion with the support of the people.
Turning his guns towards PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, the information minister said the two had introduced the “culture of corruption in politics”.
Speaking on the occasion, Planning Minister Asad Umar said the government would not take any unconstitutional step to impede the opposition’s no-confidence move.
He said the opposition committed a “big crime of horse-trading” by “detaining” PTI members at the Sindh House.
“The opposition’s move shows that they want a civil war in the country. The federal government has not acted yet. If the government responds the situation can get worse.”
Umar said the opposition’s move had proved PM Imran’s statement correct that their leaders first earned money through illegal means and then they used it to seek power.
“Bags full of money were shifted to the Sindh House to purchase the conscience of the turncoats,” he said.
“I want to tell everyone that [PM] Imran’s politics is based on principles and ideology. The premier has never done politics for his personal gains,” he added.
“Unlike the opposition leaders, [PM] Imran has neither blackmailed anyone nor is he blackmailed by anyone.”
The planning minister emphasised that the PTI would continue its fight against the opposition’s “ill moves” and would not adopt any unconstitutional means.
“These people (opposition leaders) use the name of democracy to run their business,” he said.
“On March 27, people will see that all the members and workers of PTI will be present in the historic public gathering [at D-Chowk].”
Responding to a question, Umar said the government was in contact with the opposition lawmakers but would not offer them “money”.
Energy Minister Hammad Azhar also said that the PTI would not strike any “deal” and “will not disburse ministries to stay in power”.
“We will remain engaged with our allies but there will be no wheeling and dealing.”
Commenting on dissenting MNAs remarks that they would vote on the no-confidence motion against PM Imran in "accordance with their conscience", the energy minister said, "This is not the voice of their conscience but [rather the voice of] money."
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