Another major setback for Pakistan’s Imran Khan-led government as its two other lawmakers resigned from the ruling alliance on Tuesday to join the opposition ahead of the vote on the no-confidence motion against the 69-year-old leader on April 3. In a desperate bid to save his government, Khan has now resorted to witchcraft, the opposition has claimed amid ongoing political unrest in the country.
Member of the National Assembly Chaudhry Asim Nazir from Faisalabad joined the PML-N and also resigned as Parliamentary Secretary of the PTI. Nazir was reportedly seen the day before with PML-N chairman Shahbaz Sharif, brother of ousted leader Nawaz Sharif, in parliament. Nazir had joined the PTI in 2018.
In a separate development, Independent Balochistan member Aslam Bhootani also resigned from the ruling alliance and decided to vote for the opposition, Geo News reported.
Khan leads a coalition government and he can be removed from office if some of the partners decide to switch sides. Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has 155 members out of the 342 members of the National Assembly and needs at least 172 legislators to retain power.
Speaking to Pakistani news channel Aaj News, PML-N Chairman Shehbaz Sharif claimed that tons of chickens were being burnt at Khan’s Bani Gala residence. “The poor are starving, they don’t get food. Here in Bani Gala, tons of meat are burned. I say this with full responsibility,” the Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.
Taking pictures of Khan’s third wife, Bushra Bibi, also known as Bushra Riaz, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice-Chairman Maryam Nawaz said on Saturday: “We know that jadu, tonna’ (witchcraft) is taking place in Banigala to save Imran’s government but that won’t help either.”
“Vote on No Confidence Motion against Imran Khan on April 3”
The vote on the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan will take place on April 3, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said on Tuesday. There will be a debate on the no-confidence motion on March 31, followed by a vote on April 3, he said, adding that Khan would emerge victorious. He predicted that all distant allies would return to support the Khan-led government, as the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) has already done.
The remarks came as Pakistan’s opposition alliance last midnight power show pledged to bring down Prime Minister Khan’s embattled government. The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which includes Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-I) among others, held a large rally on the Srinagar highway in Islamabad.
Maryam Nawaz Challenges Imran Khan
Maryam Nawaz and opposition Punjab Assembly leader Hamza Shehbaz who started the rally from Lahore on March 26, arrived in Islamabad two days later to join supporters of JUI-F and other PDM parties who had already set up camp. Maryam, daughter and heiress of former three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has lambasted incumbent Prime Minister Khan for using the religious card to save his tottering throne.
I challenge you to have 172 MPs with you on the day of the vote on the motion of no confidence, she said. She accused Khan of toppling his most trusted Punjab chief minister, Usman Buzdar, to salvage his power after the government decided to replace him with Chaudhry Pervez Elahi to win the support of his Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid party. .
You pushed your most trustworthy man [Buzdar] in the water to record your own ruler. We haven’t seen such an ungrateful man in all our lives, she said. She also said Khan claimed a foreign plot to overthrow him and accused him of showing a fake letter at the rally a day earlier.
She said Khan had lost people’s trust, as evidenced by the defeat of the ruling party in 15 out of 16 by-elections in recent months. Several other PDM leaders also addressed the rally and also announced that they would turn their rally into a sit-in and that the workers would camp out until the vote of no confidence took place.
Imran Khan came to power in 2018 with the promise of creating a ‘Naya Pakistan’ but failed miserably to solve the fundamental problem of commodity price controls, blowing the sails of opposition ships to make war on his government.
(with PTI entries)
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