Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s future looked increasingly in doubt on Wednesday after his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) ally and the main coalition partner Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) reached an agreement with the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The exit of MQM-P signals that PTI had lost 16 MNAs (Members of National Assembly) supporting its government in the last five days. The cricket-star-turned premier cancelled his planned address to the nation, which was expected to be held on Wednesday evening, as weeks of political turmoil come to a head.
“The united opposition and MQM-P have reached an agreement. Rabta committee MQM and PPP CEC will ratify the said agreement. We will then share details with the media in a press conference tomorrow. Congratulations Pakistan,” tweeted PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Speculation is rife that in this scenario, Imran Khan will resign as Pakistan PM outside parliament.
Earlier in the day, MQM-P leaders Farogh Naseem and Aminul Haque resigned as ministers for law and justice, and information technology and telecom, respectively. The announcement for the exit of MQM-P was made by MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui at a joint press conference with top opposition leaders, Shehbaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. PPP chairman Bilawal Zardari said Imran Khan “has now lost majority” in the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif,
brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, will soon become the Prime Minister of the country. Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) president Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday claimed that the opposition has the support of 175 lawmakers. In the 342-member National Assembly of Pakistan, the majority mark is 172.
“Imran Khan has now lost his majority. He is no longer the Prime Minister. The parliament session is tomorrow. Let’s hold voting tomorrow and settle this matter. We can then start working on transparent elections and the journey towards restoration of democracy and an end to economic crisis can then begin,” the PPP chairman Bilawal Zardari said.
With almost no hopes left for an embattled Imran Khan to save his government from collapsing, reports said Pakistan’s Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) head Lieutenant-General Nadeem Anjum reached Khan’s official residence in Islamabad for a special meeting. The meeting came hours after MQM said it will support the Opposition’s no-confidence motion in the National Assembly.
Although no reasons are being given behind Imran Khan’s move to postpone his address to the nation, it is understood that the decision to not go before the public was taken after Khan met Army chief General Bajwa and ISI’s Naveed Anjum. According to reports, Bajwa and Anjum advised PM Khan against addressing the nation as it would “vitiate the atmosphere in the country”.
Barely hours after his meeting with Pakistan’s Army and ISI chiefs, Imran Khan called a meeting of the country’s National Security Council. Khan chaired a “special meeting” of his Cabinet. Khan on Wednesday shared some details from what he called a “foreign conspiracy letter” with senior journalists and cabinet members, asserting that the document was authentic. Amidst the mounting crisis, Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry bestowed confidence on the Prime Minister and said that Imran Khan is a player who fights till the last ball and “will not resign”. Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid told Pakistan media that Khan will address the nation after a meeting of the federal cabinet later tonight. However, the address to the nation was cancelled at the last moment. Imran Khan has alleged that the current no-trust move was “funded by foreign powers”.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Faisal Vawda has claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s life is in danger as a plot has been hatched to assassinate him, reported Pakistan’s ARY News.
Faisal Vawda said that the Prime Minister has been advised to use a bulletproof shield while addressing the public gatherings as there was a plan to assassinate the leader but the PM said he will leave this world at the time fixed by Almighty Allah, reported ARY News.
(WITH INPUTS FROM MAYANK KUMAR IN NEW DELHI)