PM asks nation to attend PTI’s March 27 rally

Premier tells citizens to ‘stand with the good and against evil‘


Our Correspondent March 24, 2022
Prime Minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: PTI Twitter

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday asked citizens to participate in the PTI’s public gathering in Islamabad on March 27, urging them to join him “against evil".

The premier, in a recorded message, began with a verse from the Holy Quran, adding that the Almighty had also ordained Muslims to “stand with the good and against evil”.

He claimed that "plunderers and looters", who had indulged in corrupt practices for the past 30 years, had come together and put a price on the "conscience of public representatives".

“They are buying [the parliamentarians) openly,” the premier maintained.

“I want my people to come to the March 27 rally to show that we are against this malice. I want the people to join me against this crime being committed against democracy and the nation. Let us show them that we are against these looters who are buying the public representatives through their money.”

He further urged the people to send a message on March 27 to ensure there was no horse-trading in the future.

While presiding over a meeting of the PTI’s political committee, the premier pledged to “fight this mafia till the end” and not allow the no-confidence motion to succeed.

The participants of the meeting reviewed the political situation of the country as well as contacts with the estranged PTI members and coalition partners.

According to sources, the government’s legal team also called on the prime minister and briefed him on the hearing of a presidential reference – recently filed to interpret Article 64(A) that dealt with defecting lawmakers -- in the Supreme Court.

The government has also formulated a strategy for the National Assembly session that would be convened for the opposition’s no-confidence motion.

The sources said the strategy for the PTI’s March 27 power show had been worked out under which the party senior leadership would lead rallies from their respective constituencies.

Energy Minister Hammad Azhar would lead a rally from Lahore; Defence Minister Pervez Khattak from Peshawar; Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid and former health minister Amir Mehmood Kiyani from Rawalpindi; Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry from Jhelum; Communications Minister Murad Saeed from Swat; State Minister for Information Farrukh Habib from Faisalabad; and Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi from Sindh. Their caravans would reach the federal capital.

The sources added that the premier had instructed Hammad Azhar to set aside his prior engagements and reach Lahore to lead the PTI rally.

The energy minister will mobilise the party activists in Lahore and lead the rally from Thokar Niaz Baig neighbourhood of the city.

Read Opposition ‘in for a rude shock’: PM

A day earlier, the premier had claimed that he still had a few cards up his sleeve that would prove to be the game changer and he would unveil them a day before the opposition’s no-confidence motion against him.

“I am predicting that we will win the match of the no-confidence motion,” he had told reporters of the Supreme Court.

“The opposition parties have already shown all its cards … they are in for a major surprise,” he had claimed, adding that they were even unaware of how many people would be on their side when the time for voting came. “They [opposition parties] will be shocked by the loss of voters on their side.”

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 a sudden felt that senior PTI leader Aleem Khan joining the estranged Jahangir Khan Tareen group had weakened their position.

On March 22, 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 no-confidence 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.

(With input from APP)

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