Imran Khan Makes Desperate Efforts To Save His Chair
Desperate times call for desperate moves. That is the single point agenda for Prime Minister Imran Khan who is seeing his chair slipping away from him with each passing day. Knowing that he is likely to go down soon, PM Khan has been making last-ditch attempts to remain in power.
The former Pakistan cricket captain has taken recourse to a range of stratagems from praising India for its independent foreign policy and claiming that the no-confidence motion was an international conspiracy to unseat him.
With the voting on the no-confidence motion tabled by the combined opposition due on April 4, the question uppermost on the minds of most Pakistanis is: Will Imran Khan hand in his resignation before the vote?
Reports indicate that both Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa and ISI Chief Lt Gen Hameed told Imran Khan to hand in his resignation before the OIC Conference in Islamabad on 23 March. But Imran Khan continues to make last-ditch attempts to remain in office.
The Opposition had tabled the no-confidence motion and the same was to have been taken up on 25 March. This was postponed by a few days on account of the death of a Member of the National Assembly(MNA). One of the things PM Khan has done in the run-up to the vote in the National Assembly is to replace Punjab Chief Minister Buzdar.
This step could have been done earlier when PTI party members in Punjab turned against Imran Khan. When it comes to survival, Imran Khan acted speedily, replacing Buzdar with PML-Q’s Pervez Elahi. Better late than never! What this has achieved for Imran Khan is the renewed support of the PML-Q.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan received a massive blow when the PTI lost the majority in the National Assembly after losing its key ally in the coalition Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P). The MQM announced (March 30) it had struck a deal with the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and would support the no-trust vote.
This means that PTI has only 155 members in the 342-member National Assembly. The government’s survival is dependent on the support of allies such as MQM-P (7 seats), BAP (5 seats), PML(Q) (5 seats), GDA (3 seats), AML (1 seat), JWP (1 seat) and two independents.
As the PTI knows it may not have the numbers, its leaders have been trying to convince its ally MQM-P not to join the opposition! On the other hand, Imran Khan has approached the Courts seeking a lifetime ban for those PTI party members who vote against him.
However, this is not likely to save the PM from getting the axe. A few weeks earlier, PM Imran Khan had profusely praised India for its independent foreign policy.
Pakistani media reports in the last few weeks had been claiming that the Army had taken a “neutral” stand on the political crisis, regarding Imran Khan and the opposition. This, however, was probably a canard spread by the ISI.
The Pakistan Army has for some time now felt that Imran Khan is a liability and therefore, needs to be eased out. The two-fold challenge here is, first to get the opposition together and second was to find a successor for Imran Khan.
The Army may have wanted to wait till 2023 when general elections are due, but Imran Khan had proved that he was too intransigent to be allowed to continue.
Therefore, the Pakistan Army concluded that political turmoil in the country is not good and hence sought Imran Khan’s resignation as early as possible. The no-confidence vote is expected to take place on April 4 now, provided the motion is admitted by the Speaker.
As the moment for the no-trust vote against the PTI government inches closer, Prime Minister Imran Khan made yet another desperate appeal, asking the MNAs to not fall for the “international conspiracy designed to derail Pakistan.”
Repeating his oft used foreign conspiracy charge, Imran Khan, alleged that the no-confidence motion was a crisis imported from abroad. He claimed to have a letter to prove that the no-trust vote was a plot to topple his government from abroad.
One wonders if his target is Nawaz Sharif, a PML-N leader who is almost permanently stationed in London. Be that as it may, Imran Khan’s actions unified a disparate opposition that till date has been unable to decide on a Prime Ministerial candidate.
When Imran Khan waved the purported secret letter during a rally (March 27), its contents were unclear. Now, with the document having been shared with the Pak media, it is possible to state that the letter was a communication from the Pakistani Ambassador in the US to the Pak Foreign Office.
Apparently, during a recent meeting of Embassy officials with their US counterparts, the latter expressed their unhappiness with Pakistan’s stand on Ukraine and PM Khan’s Moscow visit. The US official reportedly told Pakistan, “We aren’t happy with this (Imran Khan’s Moscow visit), a vote of confidence is coming and if that succeeds all mistakes of Pakistan will be forgiven; otherwise Pakistan has to face dire consequences.”
Zahid Hussain, writing in the Dawn newspaper (30 March) aptly sums up the current political crisis as “a free play of political opportunists, fortune seekers and self-important hangers-on”.
The notable point he makes is that Imran Khan, desperate as he is, has lost the moral high ground he had when he took the oath of office. Today, he is acting like any other politician and is involved in wheeling and dealing, which he has often accused the opposition of indulging in.
That Imran Khan has touched a new low in this regard became apparent from remarks made by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umar Ata Bandial recently.
He asked political leaders to refrain from dragging the judges into politics. His remarks came as PM Imran Khan, while addressing a public gathering in Kamalia had said that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif was trying to woo judges against his government.
The Chief Justice, therefore, spoke his mind, during the hearing of a presidential reference seeking the Supreme Court’s opinion on Article 63-A of the Constitution and a petition of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on political rallies in Islamabad. Prior to the start of the hearing, CJ Bandial said they could not stop political parties from issuing political statements but said the parties should not try to influence the Court through their statements.
The end-game is near. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time now. The question was when? Imran Khan is desperate and desperation leads to more mistakes.
Dignity requires that he hands in his resignation immediately and not wait for the trust vote so that new political formulations can come into play. Of course, elections could well be declared soon instead of waiting till 2023. Ultimately, though the winner in this cat and mouse game is Pakistan. (ANI)