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ISLAMABAD: The joint opposition on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to step down, following it claimed to have gathered the support of 196 members of the National Assembly in the 342-member house for the passage of the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In a bid to show the strength of the joint opposition, the lawmakers of the opposition parties, including those belonging to now former allied parties of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), such as Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM) which earlier in the day formally joined the ranks of the united opposition, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), and the estranged PTI members were hosted for a dinner by Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in Sindh House.

The opposition sources claimed that a total of 196 members of the National Assembly attended the dinner, of which, 22 PTI estranged lawmakers were also in the attendance, prominent among them were Raja Riaz, Noor Alam Khan, Amir Liaqat Hussain, Javaria Zafar Aheer, Chaudhry Farrukh Altaf [cousin of federal minister for information and broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry], Ramesh Kumar, AsimNazeer, Basit Bokhari, Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla, Riaz Mazari, Rana Qasim Noon, Amjad Farooq Khosa, Aamir Talal Gopang, Nawab Sher, Samiul Hassan Gillani, Wajiha Qamar, and Nuzhat Pathan.

In an informal chat after the dinner meeting, opposition leader in the Senate and senior PPP leader Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani claimed that the number of the joint opposition would reach to 200 by Thursday (today), adding that more than 20 PTI estranged lawmakers were present during the dinner.

The joint opposition needs the support of 172 lawmakers in the 342-member lower house of the parliament to oust the incumbent prime minister.

Addressing the dinner-meeting of the opposition lawmakers, opposition leader in the National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif said that Prime Minister Khan has clearly lost majority in the House and he must step down. “Imran Khan has lost the majority before the vote on the no-trust motion, now he has the only option to resign,” he added.

In his address to the participants, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari thanked all the lawmakers for attending his dinner and assured them of working together once the no-confidence motion succeeded.

The sources said that both Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal took the participants into confidence with regard to the future strategy and they were assured that their trust in the joint opposition would not be breached. The sources further stated that the estranged PTI lawmakers have been accommodated in Sindh House and many of them are also staying at a local hotel and a farm house in the federal capital.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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