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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran to hold show of strength in Islamabad as no-trust vote looms

Ahead of the crucial no-trust vote, Pakistan’s embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan will hold a major public rally in Islamabad with thousands of his supporters travelling to the capital from different cities in special trains arranged by the government on Sunday.

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

Two special trains have been mobilised by the national transporter, Pakistan Railways, from Lahore and Islamabad at the request of the government to transport its workers.

Thousands of supporters of the Prime Minister are coming in trains, public vehicles and private cars to attend the “historic” rally of the ruling party.

The PTI caravan coming from Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and other cities will reach the Parade Ground here to attend the rally under the theme of ‘Amr Bil Maroof’ (enjoin the good).

Public meeting largest in history of Pakistan

“The public meeting will be the largest in the history of the country and have a great impact,” Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood told reporters on Saturday.

The call for the rally was given by prime minister Khan as he has been trying to present his fight against a “group of crooked opposition leaders”, but still many believe that gathering could be his swan song due to the odds of no-confidence heavily decked against him.

Separately, an equally-charged political event will be held in Islamabad on Monday by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of the Opposition parties.

The PDM comprising the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) retaliated to hold their power show a day later that will coincide with the National Assembly session when the no-confidence motion is set to be formally moved in the house.

The JUI-F supporters have started moving under the supervision of local leaders, JUI-F spokesperson Aslam Ghauri told the media.

They are mainly coming from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan where the party has a lot of support. Some of them have already reached Hakla Interchange near Islamabad.

Big protest march

Another big protest march led by PML-N vice presidents Maryam Nawaz and her cousin Hamza Shehbaz, who is the son of Shehbaz Sharif, started from Lahore on Saturday. Travelling on the historic GT Road, they are scheduled to reach Islamabad on Monday to attend the opposition rally.

“It (the march) will be the last nail in the coffin of the PTI government,” Ms. Maryam told her supporters.

Interior minister Sheikh Rashid warned that the Opposition would not be allowed to block any main roads for political activities as it was against the direction of the Supreme Court.

“We have deployed paramilitary Rangers and Frontier Corps along the Srinagar Highway and any effort to block it will be resisted,” he said.

Mr. Rashid said that more than 15,000 security personnel would be deployed for keeping law and order and also warned to call the Army in case of any untoward incident.

The political temperature has been slowly reaching a boiling point in the wake of the no-trust move by the Opposition on March 8. The make and break point for prime minister Khan is likely to be reached by the end of next week.

Opposition parties confident

The Opposition parties are confident that they can get the support of 172 members in the house of 342 to dislodge the government, while the government claims that it enjoys the required support in the house to foil the attempt.

Mr. Khan came to power in 2018 with promises to create a ‘Naya Pakistan’ but miserably failed to address the basic problem of keeping the prices of commodities in control, giving air to the sails of opposition ships to make war on his government.

With major allies of Mr. Khan looking the other way and about two dozen PTI members of parliament revolting against him, and the powerful establishment not providing a helping hand, he is less likely to get the support of the much-coveted 172 lawmakers.

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

He is facing a rebellion by his about two dozen lawmakers and allied parties which are also reluctant to pledge support to him.

Both Mr. Khan and his ministers are trying to give the impression that everything was fine and he would come out victorious out of the trial.

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.


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Printable version | Jul 6, 2022 4:46:50 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pak-pm-imran-to-hold-show-of-strength-in-islamabad-as-no-trust-vote-looms/article65264684.ece