Amid political uncertainty, Pakistan Interior Minister hints at early polls

Prime Minister Imran Khan faces no-confidence motion proposed by Opposition

March 24, 2022 08:38 pm | Updated March 25, 2022 10:09 am IST - Islamabad

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad during a press conference. FIle

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad during a press conference. FIle | Photo Credit: AFP

Pakistan's Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Thursday said early elections could be held to end the current political uncertainty triggered by a no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Mr. Rashid, leader of the Awami Muslim League (Pakistan), which is a coalition partner of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), warned party dissidents that switching sides would not do them any good.

Pakistan has been on the edge since the Opposition parties on March 8 submitted a no-confidence motion before the National Assembly Secretariat, alleging that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government led by Mr. Khan was responsible for the economic crisis and the spiralling inflation.

Mr. Khan, 69, is heading a coalition government and he can be removed if some of the partners decide to switch sides.

Mr. Khan ran into trouble after his alliance parties with 23 members refused to give a clear indication to support him in Parliament during the no-trust vote motion, which would come up for discussion later this month. His woes multiplied when about two dozen dissidents emerged within his party. But both Mr. Khan and his Ministers are trying to give the impression that everything was fine and he would emerge victorious out of the trial.

Mr. Rashid said the ruling party members “must keep in mind that early elections can also be called in the country" and switching sides would not do them any good.

Promises ‘good news’

“Those who are changing parties and thinking they will get respect, they are wrong," the Minister said. Mr. Rashid promised "good news" despite the ground reality of creeping defeat staring Mr. Khan in the face.

The National Assembly has been summoned to meet on Friday but it is not clear if the Speaker would allow the no-trust motion or adjourn the session without any official business.

On Wednesday, Mr. Rashid had said voting on the no-trust move could be held between March 30 and April 1.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is hearing a petition by the Khan government regarding the period of disqualification of its members voting against the Prime Minister by ignoring the party policy.

The PTI has 155 members in the 342-member National Assembly and needs at least 172 lawmakers on its side to remain in the government.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Khan invited the nation to participate in the ruling party's March 27 power show at Islamabad's Parade Ground, calling on the people to join him in "standing against evil".

"I want the entire nation to join me on March 27 to send one message: that we are not with evil, we are against it. That we are against the crime[s] being committed against democracy and the nation, where the conscience of public representatives is being bought with looted money," Mr. Khan said in a recorded message.

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