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PM Imran Khan defers address to nation as opposition repeats resignation call     


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has postponed the address to nation after meeting with senior journalists at PM House, senator Faisal Javed said on twitter.

Speaking to the media, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said the prime minister will address the nation later today after an emergency meeting of the federal cabinet.

The premier has revealed “written evidence” of the letter he has been saying contains evidence of a foreign conspiracy against the government to the cabinet members, Shaikh added.

Imran Khan also revealed the content of the letter, which has been saying contains evidence of a foreign conspiracy against the government, in the meeting with senior journalists.

Major allied partner Mutehida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) has announced to support no confidence motion against Imran Khan by joint opposition.

Addressing a press conference, flanked by leaders of the joint Opposition, MQM-P unveiled details of the agreements signed by the two sides.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, and BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal, among others, attended the press conference.

At the beginning of the conference, Siddiqui said the development was “historic” and at the same time, it was a “test for the political leadership of the country” as the coming days would pose several challenges to them.

“Today, we are gathered here to vow that we should work beyond promises and ensure that the decisions we take impact common Pakistanis,” Siddiqui said.

The MQM-P leader added that his party has decided to develop a working relationship with the joint Opposition, aimed at the development of Pakistan — and not for personal or party gains.

“I hope we work to develop an era where political differences are not considered as enmity, where political revenge does not exist, and where politicians start bearing each other,” he added.

Taking over the press conference, Shahbaz said today was an important day for Pakistan’s history as the Opposition had “united on the same page after decades.”

“This united jirga of the Opposition has sat together […] merely lauding the efforts done for this achievement would not be enough,” the PML-N president told journalists.

He thanked MQM-P for taking the important decision to solidify the alliance in the “interest of the Pakistani people”. 

Shahbaz also appreciated Zardari and Bilawal for starting a “new journey” with Siddiqui and the MQM-P.

Shahbaz noted that last night, the Opposition was almost about to strike an agreement with the MQM-P, but at the last minute, the Siddiqui-led party said they had some other reservations as well.

“Bilawal and Zardari took Siddiqui to a separate room and within 20 minutes, they resolved all the issues,” the Opposition leader claimed.

“And after that, all elders signed the agreement. This has set a very good precedent.”

The PML-N leader said that the agreement was the “case” of the 220 million Pakistanis that the united Opposition, along with BAP and MQM-P, has decided to fight.

“I believe that as per democratic principles, even if the PM is selected and has lost his majority, he should resign and establish a new tradition,” the leader of the Opposition said. 

For his part, Bilawal said the decision MQM-P had taken in light of the condition of Karachi and Sindh in general, was “historic”.

“PPP and MQM-P’s working relation has nothing to do with the no-confidence motion. Both the parties have to work together for the development of Karachi and Pakistan,” Bilawal said.

He noted that the PPP-MQM-P talks had started long before the no-confidence motion, as it was his “aspiration” that the party would support them in the Senate.

“During the Senate election, I had proposed even then that they work with us […] and today we have finally come to a point where we can start working together,” the PPP leader said on collaborating with the MQM-

Bilawal termed the general elections of 2018 a “conspiracy” wherein PM Imran Khan was “selected”, not “elected”.

The PPP chairman claimed that Karachi and Pakistan were bearing the brunt of the “selection” in 2018. “But the joint Opposition will now take steps to develop the country.”

The prime minister has lost the majority in the National Assembly as coalition partners of the government — MQM-P, independent MNA from Balochistan Aslam Bhootani, BAP, and JWP — have joined the joint Opposition.

Shahbaz has, in a stateman’s spirit, challenged the prime minister to resign from office, Bilawal said. “He has no option left; he can either resign or get dismissed via no-confidence.”

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Fazl also welcomed the decision of MQM-P to abandon the government and support the united Opposition’s no-confidence motion.

“This decision is not just a sign of political unity for Karachi and Sindh but for the whole of Pakistan,” Fazl said.

He said that the “drop scene” of the drama that began three and a half years ago has finally happened. 

“Today, politics on the basis of lies is finally coming to an end,” he said. “Therefore, I would like to thank and congratulate all political workers and people who made sacrifices in a bid to get rid of this curse of a government.” 

Fazl went on to say that the Opposition wants to “lay the foundation of healthy politics.”

“We want a government based on mutual respect of all parties involved,” he said, adding that politics of hate practised by the ruling PTI has “has ruined the foundations of society.”

“And when a society loses its values, it eventually collapses.”

Fazl acknowledged that there would be “challenges ahead for the joint Opposition,” but added that despite that, the country is facing a “dire need for healthy politics” aimed at fixing economic, societal, and political challenges.

“The unity that we are showing today will be required if we want the country to stand on its feet,” he said.

Fazl said it has come to his knowledge that the prime minister will address the nation. “…now everything is out of your hands”.

The PDM chief asked PM Imran Khan if he has an “iota of ethics”, he should resign today, adding that after BAP and MQM-P’s decision to join, the Opposition has more numbers than the required 172 to oust the premier through the no-trust move.

“I would like to say the international conspiracy was hatched when Imran Khan was brought to power,” Fazl stated, adding: “The plan to install this  government was done internationally.”

Moving on, Mengal said PM Imran Khan was out on a “hit wicket” and asked the premier to resign from office, as the “chooran” of foreign conspiracy had become redundant.

“…people, no matter which province they belong to, are humans — and the sort of human rights violations that are taking place in the country for the last 30 years should stop now,” Mengal said.

The BNP-M leader went on to say that he did not want an old or new Pakistan, but a “different Pakistan”, where every person has the right to live, every province has the right to use its resources, where citizens are treated like human beings, and where kids do not become missing persons.

BAP Parliamentary Leader Khalid Magsi — who later took over the presser — expressed hope that political parties, who were “previously enemies and now had become friends”, would work for the prosperity of Pakistan.

“… the agreement signed with MQM-P was not a favour, but it was their right. I appreciated PPP for acknowledging that every person, no matter whether they are Sindhi, Seraiki, Urdu speaking, or of any other ethnicity, are equal,” Magsi said.

The BAP leader said the agreement would help Sindh prosper. “I do not want to comment on the last 3.5 years as bygones are bygones, but I hope that they (government) learn from their mistakes.”

During the question and answer session with journalists, Shahbaz — while responding to a question regarding the joint Opposition’s plans for the future once they come into power — said that the “only purpose of the joint alliance is to work for the betterment of Pakistanis.”

“The word inteqaam (revenge) is not there in our dictionary, as we want to work for the betterment of small provinces, including Balochistan,” Shahbaz said.

“Pakistan cannot progress until small provinces are as developed as bigger ones,” he said. 

On March 27, Prime Minister Imran Khan revealed that “foreign elements” are involved in the attempts to topple his government and said, “some of our own people” are being used for this.

The premier, during what PTI labelled as one of its “biggest” rallies in its history at the Parade Ground in Islamabad, flashed a letter before the public, saying that he has “written evidence” that “money has been pouring in from abroad,” while “some of our people are being used to topple the government.”

He had said that for months, “plotting and planning is being carried out to influence the foreign policy of Pakistan from outside.”

Referring to the allegations of the Opposition that the PTI-led government is staging a drama in the name of the “written letter”, he said that he will show the letter to senior journalists and members of alliance parties today to clear the misunderstandings created by the joint Opposition.

However, it is worth mentioning that Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Tuesday revealed that PM Imran Khan was ready to share the “threat letter” with Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial.

Umar had said only a select few people in the civil-military leadership have seen the letter due to its “sensitivity” and therefore it could not be shown publicly.

The PM opined that the “foreign-imported conspiracy” started when people from abroad started controlling Pakistan through telephone calls.

“They cannot tolerate a leadership that works in the people’s interest,” he said, reiterating his criticism of America’s ‘war on terror’. He said that Pakistan had paid a heavy price for its participation.

The premier said that many were unaware of the exact scale of the suffering of those living in the country’s tribal areas.

Sheikh Rasheed advises Imran Khan not to forgive dissident MNAs

Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed took a jibe at all the dissident party members and allies, saying that these “people sell their conscience for money.”

Recalling allegations levelled against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who allegedly took money from Osama Bin Laden to topple former premier Benazir Bhutto’s government, Rasheed said that money is the weakness of “these people [Opposition and dissident members]”.

“I am proud of myself for supporting Imran Khan,” he said, adding that all these people [dissident members] will come back to Imran Khan; however, the interior minister advised the premier not to forgive them.

He complained to Imran Khan that he easily forgives everybody, adding that there is no room for forgiveness this time.

Reiterating his support for Imran Khan, he said that he stands with the leader [Imran Khan] and not the party. “The power and capacity left in me at this age are for Imran Khan after Allah,” he said.

On the newly launched electronic passport, the PM said technology has reduced the capacity of corruption among officials and eased the life of the people.

“There are two types of corruption: macro and petty. When I came into power, I wanted to end petty corruption,” he said, adding that it is because of technology that the most important asset of our country overseas Pakistanis have sent record remittances.

“It is because of the remittances sent by the overseas Pakistanis that Pakistan’s economy is now stable,” he said.

Meanwhile, after late Tuesday night meeting with joint opposition leader MQM Pakistan has decided to support opposition’s no confidence motion against Imran Khan in the National Assembly.

The two federal Ministers, Amin ul Haq and Farogh Naseem, belong to MQM have also sent their resignations to PM office today.

An MQM-P spokesperson said that while the draft agreement had been finalized, the party would only announce its decision once the same was ratified by the coordination committee.

Initially, an opposition delegation consisting of Khawaja Asif, Sherry Rehman, Naveed Qamar, Ayaz Sadiq, Akhtar Mengal, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, and others reached Parliament Lodges a little before midnight.

They held talks with MQM convener Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and other leaders, which continued well into the early hours of Wednesday.

Later, the main cohort of opposition leaders, Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and Shehbaz Sharif also reached the venue around 2:00 am in a bid to persuade the government to switch sides.

TV channels were inundated with news about the possible outcome of the meeting throughout the night. While multiple outlets reported that opposition sources claimed the MQM-P had all but agreed to join them, some channels quoted Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Waeem Akhtar as saying that nothing had been decided.

Sources privy to the meeting said that the sitting discussed certain clauses about a future agreement between the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and MQM-P regarding Sindh’s administrative and local government issues in the presence of senior leadership of other opposition parties.

The draft agreement is not only with the PPP, but with the whole opposition, a source said, adding that Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Shehbaz Sharif would ensure implementation on the agreement if it was approved by the coordination committee.

If MQM-P were to throw its weight behind the opposition, it would drastically tilt the scales in their favour. According to some estimates, the ruling coalition has a strength of 171 members, since the lone Jamaat lawmaker has elected to stay neutral in the no-confidence vote.

The opposition, on the other hand, seems to have 169 members on its side after the Balochistan Awami Party joined its ranks.

This precarious balance could easily be tilted if the MQM-P’s seven members cross over to the opposition’s side.


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