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Pakistan

Imran reiterates demand for ‘free and fair’ polls as tussle between govt, opposition deepens in Punjab

  • Former premier says one man’s animosity with his party plunged the country into a crisis
Published December 22, 2022

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday reiterated the demand for "free and fair polls" as his party's supporters gathered outside the Punjab Governor House in Lahore to protest against Balighur Rehman's possible decision to de-notify Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, Aaj News reported.

Addressing his party supporters and parliamentarians, Imran said: “There is a strange environment. Initially, the PML-N was challenging us to dissolve assemblies, saying that they were ready for elections. But when we did that, a vote of confidence and no-trust motions were moved in the Punjab Assembly.

“I believe that never in the 70 years of my life have I seen my nation head towards such darkness.”

Imran's criticism of Gen Qamar Bajwa (retd) continues

Imran said that one man had plunged the country into a crisis, as he accused the former army chief General Qamar Bajwa (retd) of sidelining his party.

Last week, former premier Imran Khan spoke in detail about his government's ouster via a no-confidence motion earlier this year.

Imran said that he had a “personal” dispute with former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa (Retd) but he will not take any action against him if he comes into power again.

“My question today is, who was responsible for this regime change? Only one man is responsible: General Bajwa," he said.

"I didn’t speak out against him because he was the army chief. We want our army to be strong so we kept quiet and kept looking at how the conspiracy happened.”

He said the former army chief had “decided to remove his government," alleging that General Qamar Javed Bajwa (retired) gave "NRO 2" to the ruling coalition.

Imran's criticism of the former army chief continued even after Chief Minister Punjab Chaudhry Parvez Elahi said on Sunday that he will be the first one to defend General Qamar Javed Bajwa (retired) if he is unduly criticised by anyone in the future.

“I felt very bad when Imran Khan spoke against Gen Bajwa (retd) while having me seated beside him,” Parvez said adding that the former army chief was a "benefactor" and nothing should be said against benefactors.

“Gen Bajwa gave many favours to the PTI government, therefore, the favours shouldn't be forgotten,” the Punjab CM reminded the PTI chief.

PTI chief claims coalition govt running away from elections

In his address today, Imran claimed that the coalition government is running away from elections.

"The convict sitting abroad and Zardari are scared," he said.

“They have a one-point agenda to hide their theft and they will hurt the country in the process. They won’t think about Pakistan once. All they want is an NRO 2,” he alleged.

'Refrain from any adventures': PTI tells Balighur Rehman

On Wednesday, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry warned Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman to “refrain from any adventures” as the party stated that Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi will not be seeking a vote of confidence on Wednesday (Dec 21).

“Ten lawmakers of PML-Q have also expressed confidence in the chief minister. Tomorrow, 177 PTI MPAs will gather in favour of Elahi,” he said, adding that the political crisis in Punjab was a reflection of the need for snap polls.

The tussle between the government and the opposition continues to deepen since PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced the dissolution of the assemblies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Dec 23, with the PML-N and allies deliberating on ways to prevent the move.

Earlier this week, Punjab Governor Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman had asked Chief Minister Parvez Elahi to seek a vote of confidence.

Responding to Rehman's order, Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan called Governor Punjab's move to call a fresh session of the provincial assembly illegal.

Late on Wednesday, Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman termed the ruling of Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan “unconstitutional and illegal.”

Rehman, in his response, addressed two main concerns raised in Khan’s ruling. Regarding the first concern, the governor said he had implied in his Dec 19 order that “if the ongoing session was prorogued by your good self (PA speaker)” any time before 4 pm today then “a new session was required to be summoned” at 4 pm today for the vote of confidence.

“In the alternate, a sitting of the assembly at the noted time and date could have been summoned in the 41st session of the assembly, which your good self has also noted that it was summoned by me and was never prorogued; or a fresh session specifically summoned for the purposes of requiring the chief minister to obtain the vote of confidence,” the order reads.

Punjab number game

After Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman asked Punjab CM Parvez Elahi to seek a vote of confidence from the assembly, the number game in the Punjab Assembly is once again in the spotlight.

Parvez Elahi needs the magic number of 186 in the 371-strong House to show the majority and thwart PML-N’s attempt to remove him from office.

The PTI-PML-Q alliance has a total of 190 votes (180 +10). On the other hand, the opposition alliance has the support of 180 lawmakers, including 167 from the PML-N, seven from the PPP, five independent lawmakers, and one from the Rah-i-Haq Party.

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