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ISLAMABAD: The joint opposition on Thursday refused to give what they call a “safe passage” and a “face-saving” to Prime Minister Imran Khan by taking the no-confidence motion back, rather, advised the premier to either resign or produce his numbers in the National Assembly.

Talking to reporters outside Parliament House, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, flanked by other leaders of the joint opposition, asked the prime minister to step down after they claimed that 175 members from the opposition benches were present in the House on Thursday other than the estranged members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

When the House resumed its sitting, 22 estranged PTI lawmakers, brought to the parliament in tight security, were present at the chamber of the opposition leader.

“After thorough deliberations, it was decided that we would not back out from exercising our constitutional right [voting on no-confidence motion], which is our right to do so. It was decided that we will follow the path of the Constitution and the matter would be decided within the parliament,” Shehbaz Sharif said in response to a question about the late night meeting on Wednesday with an “important personality” with a message reportedly from Prime Minister Khan about withdrawing the no-confidence motion and going for an early election.

No-confidence motion against PM: Joint opposition discusses strategy

The decision to reject the “offer” was earlier taken in a meeting of the joint opposition which was attended by all the leaders of the parties now under the umbrella of the joint opposition, including PML-N, PPP, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), Awami National Party (ANP), and other opposition allied parties.

Shehbaz Sharif, in his media talk, claimed that 172 members were present on the opposition benches on Thursday’s session of the House. However, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stated that the number was 175.

The PML-N president also rejected the prime minister’s allegation about involvement of former premier Nawaz Sharif an in the alleged “foreign conspiracy” to oust him, adding that instead of levelling “baseless” allegations against Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister should give explanation of the foreign funds given to his party, which he stated were also allegedly received from Israel and India.

“This is not only about the funds were also received from India and Israel, but these were not declared to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP),” Shehbaz said, while referring to the foreign funding case of the PTI in the ECP.

Without naming any and also clarified that not the First Lady, he alleged that a woman within Imran Khan’s family was his “front-person” in taking billions of rupees from Pakistan to Dubai. “His own house is involved in corruption. I’m not talking about his wife, but a woman being his “front-person” has taken billions of rupees to Dubai,” Shehbaz alleged.

About the alleged “threat letter” and the meeting of the Parliament Committee on National Security, he said that the opposition had demanded to present the “letter” in the House. “But they have decided to call the committee meeting for which we have not been invited. Just a verbal message was conveyed to me at 5:00 pm about the meeting. There is nothing, but a ‘fraud’ in the name of a letter,” he maintained.

Bilawal said that it was now too late to give an “NRO” to Prime Minister Khan and asked him to step down gracefully or face the no-confidence motion in the House. “The only honourable path is to resign,” he asked the prime minister, claiming that the opposition has now shown their numbers in the House, which according to him were 175.

“Imran Khan is trying to get a safe passage and a face-saving, but it is now too late to get an NRO. But the law will take its own course now,” he added.

Earlier, in the day Bilawal told journalists that the prime minister has only “honourable exit”, which is that he should come to House respectfully and produce his numbers. “But don’t try to create a constitutional crisis. It is neither in your interest nor in the interest of the country. Whoever is giving you an otherwise advice, they are not sincere with you but they are thinking of their own interests,” he asked the premier.

He also advised Prime Minister Khan to take an “honourable exit” by tendering resignation. “There will neither be any safe passage nor an ‘NRO’. You’re a sportsman and you have played your inning. So, exercise the sportsman spirit and resign respectfully or, otherwise, face the no-confidence motion,” Bilawal asked the Prime Minister.

“You are trying to call this constitutional process – no-confidence motion – a foreign conspiracy even at the cost of damaging the country’s foreign policy and its institutions, which must be avoided,” he further stated.

Bilawal stated that opposition and the people cannot compromise on democracy. “I challenge you that we are engaged in this process [no-confidence] for the last three years and this is a democratic process and the success so far in this process has not been achieved on the shoulders of “others”. You must accept this and proceed ahead. Otherwise, it will not only you, but it will also cause a damage to the country,” he added.

To a question about participation of the opposition in the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, he said that the speaker National Assembly has neither invited them nor any notification was issued.

“The meeting the committee should have been convened (earlier). Imran Khan’s attempt to scandalize and polarize national security forum is outrageous. If you want to ask about the letter, ask us after three days. We have information that Imran Khan got this letter written to him by his minister and Khan Sahib then waved this in a rally and until now, he is making an attempt to sabotage a constitutional process by using this letter,” Bilawal said when his comments were sought on the “threat letter”.

He also accused the prime minister of pressuring the state institutions and is making them controversial.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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Saleem Apr 01, 2022 01:22pm
Its funny how Pakistan political parties show ignorance or think people are ignorant. They should know that IK do not have to show numbers (majority) in parliament but opposition have to show numbers (172 MNA plus) in parliament. That is what happens in no-confidence voting success. At moment, Opposition are showing their numbers outside voting count, but on voting day, we do not know how many MNAs belonging to opposition may not vote (abstain) and every abstain means vote for IK. Regardless, IK govt was not govt with simple majority, so if all parties and MNAs join together than throwing IK out of power is no big deal. One should think of Vote-of-no-confidence and its effect on next election, and it seems, with all this hue and cry, PTI would be sure winner in next election. It is possible that PTI on their own might get 2/3 majority in next parliamentary election, where most PTI MNAs would not be 'bikao mal'
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