Pak PM Imran Khan faces prospect of being run out in number game during no-trust vote

PTI, Apr 2, 2022, 7:34 PM IST

Pakistan’s embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has promised to bowl an inswing yorker against Opposition leaders for tabling a no-confidence motion against him, is now facing the prospect of being run out in the number game in Parliament on Sunday with key allies deserting him and a sizeable number of rebel lawmakers vowing to vote against him.

Khan, who came to power in 2018 with promises to create a ‘Naya Pakistan’, is at a critical juncture of his political career as he has lost the majority after defection from his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Two of his allied parties also withdrew their support and joined the ranks of the rejuvenated Opposition.

The 69-year-old cricketer-turned-politician is facing the no-confidence motion, which was tabled by the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on March 28. The National Assembly is scheduled to vote on the no-trust motion on Sunday.

Khan needs 172 votes in the lower house of 342 to foil the Opposition’s bid to topple him. However, the Opposition claims it has the support of 175 lawmakers and the prime minister should immediately resign.

A defiant Khan has said that he will not resign despite losing the majority and insisted that he will ”fight till the last ball” and face the vote of no-confidence in the National Assembly on Sunday.

Khan has described the rebel lawmakers as ”traitors” and said that they will be branded as such for the rest of their lives as he pleaded with them to come back and foil the Opposition’s attempt to topple his government.

No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office. Also, no prime minister in Pakistan’s history has ever been ousted through a no-confidence motion, and Khan is the third premier to face the challenge.

Since coming to power in 2018, Khan has miserably failed to address the basic problem of keeping the prices of commodities in control, allowing the Opposition to target his government as inefficient.

On Friday, Khan claimed he has credible information that his life is in danger but asserted that he is not afraid and will continue his fight for an independent and democratic Pakistan.

Khan’s security has been beefed up as per the government’s decision after he claimed that his life is in danger.

In an interview with ARY News, Khan also revealed that the “establishment” (the Pakistani military) gave him three options – a no-confidence vote, early elections, or resignation as the Prime Minister.

”I said early elections are the best option… I could never think of resigning… and for no-trust motion, I believe that I will fight till the last minute,” he said.

Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has at least twice met Prime Minister Khan this week.

The powerful Pakistan Army, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 73 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in matters of security and foreign policy.

A highly placed source in the federal government has told PTI that backdoor talks between the government and the joint Opposition are underway on the issue of the no-confidence motion against Khan.

”Talks are focused on one-point – the joint opposition withdraws the no-trust motion against Khan and in return he dissolves the National Assembly calling for fresh elections,” the source said, adding that the ”top man in the establishment may be a guarantor” if the understanding between the two reaches.

Khan has accused the Opposition of playing in foreign hands and indicated that if he survived the no-confidence vote, he would call for early elections.

He has termed the opposition parties, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), as a “disgrace” to the country and said it was due to their policies in the past that a foreign power was openly calling for a regime change in Pakistan.

Khan, one of the fastest bowlers in the world during his cricketing career and one of the pioneers of the reverse swing bowling technique, last month said that he will take three wickets with one inswing yorker, referring to three top Opposition leaders – PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

The prime minister has reiterated what he had said in a televised address to the nation on March 31 that a foreign country not only expressed disapproval over his premiership but also demanded that he be ousted through a no-confidence vote so that Pakistan be “forgiven”.

In the live address, Khan had discussed a ‘threat letter’ and termed it as part of a foreign conspiracy to remove him as he was not acceptable for following an independent foreign policy. He named the US as the country behind the threat letter in what appeared to be a slip of tongue.

The US has asserted that it did not send any letter to Pakistan on the current political situation in the country as it sought to refute allegations of America’s involvement in the no-confidence motion against the Imran Khan-led government.

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