Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday claimed that he still had a “trump card” or two up his sleeve that he would play a day before the opposition’s no-confidence motion. This, he boasted, will prove to be the game changer.
“I am predicting that we will win the match of the no-confidence motion,” he told reporters of the Supreme Court, a couple of days before deliberations are slated to begin on the no-trust move against him in a session of the lower house of parliament.
The prime minister was looking very confident and relaxed.
He was accompanied by Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, and Adviser to PM on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan.
The informal chat with reporters reflects that PM does not want confrontation with the security establishment.
The PM made it clear that there is no chance to make army controversial.
He simply laughed off a delicate question on an important appointment due in the month of November.
The PM was full of exuberance when he said that the PTI graph had jumped after “this no-confidence motion”. He ruled out the possibility of him resigning before the vote.
The prime minister also made it clear that he would not sit quietly in case the noconfidence move succeeds.
He also hinted that he would intensify campaign against corruption.
Despite members of the ruling party and its allies increasingly hinting that they would back the opposition, the premier maintained that he would turn the tables on the day of the no-trust move.
“The opposition parties have already shown all their cards … they are in for a major surprise,” he claimed, adding that they were even unaware of how many people would be on their side when the time for voting comes.
“They [opposition parties] will be shocked by the loss of voters on their side.”
The premier asserted that he would not resign at any cost. “It must be someone’s delusion that I would resign and go home. Should I resign on the demand of thieves?” he questioned rhetorically, while referring to the opposition parties.
The prime minister disclosed that he had met estranged PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar, saying that they both had an association that went back 40 years.
Speaking about his “animals are neutral” remarks during a recent speech, the premier said his comments were taken out of context.
He added that he had alluded to neutrality in the context of good and evil.
Read Opposition to move IHC for smooth voting on no-trust motion
The premier maintained that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman was the “12th player” and the time to send him packing had come.
“The PPP and PML-N’s politics revolved around concealing their theft,” the premier claimed. “[PPP Co-Chairperson] Asif Ali Zardari’s ideology is money. Why would I sit with major criminals like Shehbaz Sharif?”
He further said the Pakistan Army was wrongly criticised. “A strong army is a prerequisite for a strong country,” he said, adding that the country would have been split into three pieces had it not been for its military.
“The army should not be maligned for the sake of politics.”
Speaking to the media, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the prime minister had “a lot of cards” to defeat the no-confidence motion.
The minister added that the National Assembly session would be prorogued on the first day on account of the death of a lawmaker.
Rashid further said the vote on the no-confidence motion could be held between March 30 and April 1.
“The PTI’s March 27 rally will prove how many people stand with the premier.”
On March 8, the united opposition front had filed a requisition for a no-confidence motion against PM Imran, pinning its hopes for its success on the estranged members of the ruling party and its allies.
For making the no-trust motion successful, the opposition needs to have the support of at least 172 of the total 342 members in the lower house of parliament to show a simple majority -- leading to the choosing of a new prime minister.
Political analysts conjectured that the opposition could bag the support of 10 lawmakers or more from the ruling party or any of the allies as they had been in touch with it for quite some time now.
One lawmaker said PTI members were in touch with the opposition since it had defeated the government for the capital’s seat in the Senate elections, forcing Prime Minister Imran Khan to take a vote of confidence at that time.
Opposition lawmakers shared that the PML-N had bagged the support of 16 PTI members in exchange for giving them its party tickets in the next elections.
Similarly, the PPP has managed to win over four MNAs, while the JUI-F had received assurance of support from three MNAs, bringing the total to 23 – just one more than what PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had earlier claimed and way more than the required number of lawmakers needed to show a simple majority in the House.
Two main allies of the government, the PML-Q and MQM-P, who believed that they were on the driving seat, have all of sudden felt that senior PTI leader Aleem Khan joining the estranged Jahangir Khan Tareen group had weakened their position.
A day earlier, MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui had said the party “greatly valued” the opinion of the opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and would decide its stance on the noconfidence motion against the government taking heed of its advice.
The PML-Q leadership, its president Chaudhry Shujaat and his cousin Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi, have left for Lahore after seeking the slot of the Punjab chief minister from both the government and opposition.
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