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ISLAMABAD: The members belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) resigned from their National Assembly seats on Monday in protest against an “imported government”, minutes before the election for the new prime minister.

The decision was taken in a party’s parliamentary meeting, chaired by PTI chairman Imran Khan, where it was decided that the party would not become a part of the current parliament which elected its own leader of the house despite, the PTI’s claim of US involvement behind the ouster of Imran Khan.

The NA Deputy Speaker, Qasim Khan Suri, who presided over the session of Shehbaz Sharif’s election as prime minister, defended his ruling – on the no-confidence motion against the then prime minister Imran Khan – and said it was according to the rules and the Constitution.

He said that he cannot become part of a conspiracy to oust a democratically-elected government, adding the voting on the no-trust motion against Imran Khan had already taken place and there has been enough debate over the ruling he gave on April 3, which blocked the no-trust vote against Imran Khan.

“Everyone is bound to comply with the court orders, but I want to put the reasons and basis of my ruling before you…I gave the ruling as a patriotic Pakistani, as a guardian and the deputy speaker of the National Assembly,” he added.

He reiterated that “the foreign cable was deliberated upon at meetings of the federal cabinet, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security Committee (PCNS), National Security Committee (NSC), and it was agreed that the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan is a foreign plot”.

Shehbaz meets Zardari, Bilawal

Suri recalled that the last cabinet meeting held on April 9, 2022, decided to declassify the foreign cable, adding the cable was then received by former NA speaker Asad Qaiser, who closely examined it.

Suri then flashed an envelope, saying it is the “threat letter” which he had also received as the deputy speaker from the federal cabinet.

“In this cable, Pakistan has been openly threatened. It’s tantamount to slavery and this was the reason Imran Khan was removed. I’m going to send this to chief justice of the Supreme Court,” he added.

Suri said that the threat letter was received before the motion of no-confidence was submitted against Imran Khan by the joint opposition.

He questioned if it was Imran Khan’s fault that he talked about an independent foreign policy or spoke for the honour of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), or fought the battle against Islamophobia.

“I want to ask you if Pakistan is not a free country. Isn’t this due to Imran Khan’s resistance against slavery due to which he was punished? We will not accept the slavery and an imported government”, he added.

Suri concluded by saying that he has accepted the apex court’s decision to reverse his ruling and the restoration of the National Assembly as it was, and has tried to run parliamentary affairs as per NA rules and the constitution.

He then allowed former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to speak.

Taking the floor, Qureshi said that today’s constitutional process has to end today as some will be declared a “winner” today, while the other one will be declared “free”.

The nation has two paths in front of it – one is of self-respect while the other one is of slavery, he said, adding: “I’m grateful to Imran Khan for trusting me and nominating me as candidate of the prime minister against Shehbaz Sharif.”

Terming the PTI a relatively new party compared to the other parties, he said it has managed to leave a strong impression on the minds of the masses which the country and the world witnessed yesterday – a reference to Sunday’s countrywide protests against Imran Khan’s removal.

The former foreign minister while pointing towards the treasury benches, said: “The nation can see that on one side are people who share the same pro-Pakistan ideology and on the others are people who have nothing in common and are only united and are sitting with several ideologies.”

“In view of the PTI members, the unity among the opposition benches is unnatural as history tells that there is no ideological unity among them as they are the combination of people with different ideologies and thoughts,” he added.

In the same breath, he said that “the victors and the victims” seem united, adding it would not look nice if Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the grandson of late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and son of late Benazir Bhutto, becomes the foreign minister of Shehbaz Sharif.

Qureshi went on to say that when Imran Khan met Donald Trump in the White House, he was wearing a Peshwari chappal, while during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin he was wearing a Shalwar Kameez.

“Imran Khan has taught the nation how to live an independent life…despite, being a graduate of Oxford University, Imran promoted the national language and national dress of Pakistan on all occasions,” he added.

Amid constant calls from the deputy speaker urging members sitting on the opposition benches to maintain the order of the House, Qureshi continued saying that the opposition members have formed a temporary coalition which would not last long, adding Shehbaz Sharif knows he does not have the support of the masses.

Lashing out at the opposition parties, he said the Sharifs and the Zardaris could not think of appointing someone outside their families for the top offices of the prime minister and the chief minister.

The PTI leader said the people have rejected the coalition’s ‘imported government’ and it was not only witnessed in Pakistan but abroad, as well.

Qureshi said in the old Pakistan, every child is in debt, a majority portion of the revenue goes into debt servicing, a historic trade deficit, International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) doors were knocked on, the GDP’s growth was stagnant, and unemployment was rising.

Before walking out by announcing en masse resignations, while chanting the slogans “imported government is not acceptable, we want independence and not slavery”, Qureshi said: “In line with the party’s unanimous decision, we have decided not to partake in their illegal actions…we aspire for an independent Pakistan, and we announce to resign from assemblies today,”.

As Qureshi announced the PTI’s decision, Suri also said his “conscience” does not allow him to hold the election for the new prime minister; therefore, he handed over the chair of the session to Ayaz Sadiq of the PML-N.

Earlier, at a meeting of the PTI’s parliamentary committee, chaired by its chairman Imran Khan, the former prime minister, it was decided to resign from the assemblies against the imported government.

Talking to reporters, PTI central Information Secretary Farrukh Habib said that the parliamentary party has decided to resign from the assemblies against the imported government.

Immediately after the announcement, Murad Saeed tendered his resignation as member of the NA – the first from the party.

He confirmed that he made the decision in line with the party’s narrative. He reiterated the former prime minister’s claims of a foreign conspiracy, stating that sitting in the NA after these revelations would be akin to be being a part of this plot.

Former maritime affairs minister Ali Haider Zaidi also followed suit, announcing his resignation on Twitter. He said he had submitted his resignation to the party chairman.

“No way should we legitimise this foreign-funded regime change in Pakistan. The battle for the sovereignty of Pakistan will now be decided on the streets by the people, not these looters,” he tweeted.

Former minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur also shared a photo of his resignation on the party’s letterhead.

“I am proud to be a follower of Imran Khan and will fight till my death for the freedom of Pakistan and parliament,” he added.

PTI leaders, Dr Shireen Mazari, Hammad Azhar, and Shafqat Mahmood shared their resignations on Twitter, as well.

Reuters adds: More than 100 lawmakers loyal to ousted prime minister Imran Khan resigned on Monday, creating a headache for the new, Western-friendly incumbent Shehbaz Sharif as he tries to drag his country out of political and economic crisis.

Parliament’s election of Sharif, 70, as prime minister on Monday followed a week-long constitutional crisis that reached a climax on Sunday when Khan, 69, lost a no-confidence vote in parliament.

His departure from power sparked street protests and a mass resignation of MPs from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party in protest at the impending change of government.

If the resignations are accepted by the speaker, Pakistan faces a prospect of more than 100 by-elections within two months, a major distraction for Sharif and his coalition partners and a potential platform for Khan to mobilise his support. That in turn could ensure the nuclear-armed nation of 220 million people remains prone to political and economic turbulence. Analysts say Shehbaz, unlike Nawaz, enjoys amicable relations with military, which traditionally controls foreign and defence policy. After Monday’s vote, Sharif vowed to tackle an economic malaise that has seen the rupee hit an all-time low and the central bank implement the biggest hike in interest rates in decades last week.

“If we have to save the sinking boat, what we all need is hard work, and unity, unity and unity,” he told parliament.

“We are beginning a new era of development today.”

He took the oath of office at Pakistan’s presidential residence late on Monday at a ceremony packed with lawmakers and leaders from the combined opposition.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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