LAHORE: PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday confirmed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will be “tested” through a vote of confidence in a tit-for-tat move similar to the one he himself had faced as the premier in April last year.
Speaking in a TV programme, Khan was asked if the incumbent prime minister could be asked to obtain a vote of confidence from the National Assembly.
“Absolutely, we will test him,” he asserted.
Imran said Shehbaz had tested the PTI so now he would have to taste his own medicine.
He said the PTI would hash out the details of the move in a party meeting on Sunday and carry out full planning for not only the trust vote but also “other plans to fully thrust them in a testing situation now”.
It is pertinent to mention that the MQM-P, a key ally of the ruling coalition, has in recent days indicated that it could quit the federal government owing to what it says are unfulfilled promises.
MQM-P sources earlier said that the party had communicated its ultimatum and it would announce its decision at a workers’ convention scheduled to be held on Saturday (today).
PML-Q likely to merge into PTI
Imran Khan has proposed that its ally, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) should merge with it.
The former prime minister shared the proposal in a meeting with journalists at his Zaman Town residence in Lahore on Friday, where he looked quite relaxed and confident after Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s successful vote of confidence.
Elahi won the much-awaited confidence vote in the Punjab Assembly Wednesday night after lawmakers sitting on the treasury benches entrusted their trust in him, with the opposition boycotting the session in protest after tearing up the agenda copies.
Khan said that discussions on the proposed merger of the two allies are yet to take place. He praised Moonis Elahi and said he stood by the PTI despite pressure from powerful quarters.
“Moonis is a forward-looking young man and he could see the PTI’s political future and was able to convince the older leadership of his party.”
Khan also praised Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi for having withstood threats and other pressure. He said that even his own members had a lot of offers, especially woman MPAs, but they refused and stood by their party when it came to the vote of confidence. Khan said that fighting with the establishment is madness.
On reconciliation with the army, Khan said that it is possible and he is willing to forgive the establishment and move on, whether it is the case of Azam Khan Swati or Shahbaz Gill or other things that took place since the vote of no-confidence against him because he genuinely believes that the military is the most organised institution and has the resources to stop the smuggling of dollars, help in the crackdown against corruption and other things.
Khan recalled the army’s assistance and work during the Covid pandemic, in polio vaccination campaigns and in controlling locusts.
He also said that the military establishment only needs directions from leaders. “Their role can be very positive when they move in the right direction.”
To a question by this reporter on whether the military would get more space to meddle in politics if more role is given to it, he said that it cannot end overnight but leaders have to make sure that a direction is set on how to use the military to establish the rule of law.
Per him, only the military can take the country out of the current quagmire if it works with all political stakeholders.
Khan said that the military can establish the rule of law and that no institution should be above the law.
He said that he was not willing to sit with the PDM because “they are looters who want an NRO”, which basically means they want to be above the law. He said they had no stakes in the country as their assets were stashed abroad, which was why they could also be pressurised by outside powers.
Talking about Balochistan and former FATA, Khan said he believed in political solutions and not military solutions.
On being asked about the crackdown against the media during the PTI’s tenure, Khan said he had nothing to do with it. “I have always taken the legal route when I have had problems with the media. I have a lot of tolerance for media criticism.”
The PTI chairman was very confident that after the dissolution of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, the PDM would be left with no choice but to go for general elections.
Khan believes that the current establishment will not support the government given the economic crisis.
“If this government continues till August, Pakistan will be worse off than even Sri Lanka.” He said that whatever economic growth was achieved during the PTI tenure had all been undone by the PDM in less than a year.