Ruling PTI’s ministers slam opposition parties for ‘horse-trading’ and confirm government is in contact with ‘several’ opposition MNAs
If it wished, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government could utilize “billions” of public funds to “buy” half the votes of the opposition, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar claimed on Thursday, stressing that the ruling party will not resort to such “unethical” actions.
Addressing a press conference alongside Planning Minister Asad Umar and Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain following the confirmation of nearly a dozen PTI lawmakers shifting from Parliament Lodges to Sindh House, he claimed the prevailing political system of the country was based on “corruption and auction.”
Addressing the controversy regarding statements of the disgruntled PTI members that they had been “disillusioned” by the government and would now vote “with their conscience,” he claimed it was “not their voice, but money that was speaking.” Without offering any evidence, he alleged that the supporters of the dissident MNAs had voted for them in the name of Prime Minister Imran Khan and their dissension had provoked backlash. “Prime Minister Imran Khan will emerge victorious in the no-confidence motion,” he added.
Earlier, the planning minister reiterated claims that the PTI was in contact with members of the opposition, adding that “several” would side with the ruling party against its rivals. However, he stopped short of naming them, saying this was not the time to do so. Claiming the PTI would not use the opposition’s “tactics” he said Khan would stand by his “principles” and would not compromise his politics to secure his premiership.
“P.M. Khan neither blackmails anyone nor does he get blackmailed like other political leaders,” he claimed after weeks of the premier personally visiting coalition partners in a bid to convince them to stay with him. According to reports, the prime minister has urged allies to merge their parties with the PTI, a position being perceived as a means to prevent them from voting against him in the no-confidence resolution.
Umar, meanwhile, reiterated that the P.M. would not indulge in horse-trading ahead of the no-confidence motion, adding that the decisions of the PTI would be in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan. However, the party has already announced it intends to prevent its lawmakers from voting on the no-confidence resolution by “disqualifying” them before they get a chance to deliver their decision. This has been perceived by legal experts as a violation of Article 63A of the Constitution.
According to the planning minister, the “only” difference between PTI and the opposition is that they are using the name of democracy for “illegitimate” practices, including blackmailing and horse-trading. To a question on claims by MNA Ramesh Kumar that three federal ministers had decided to part ways with the PTI, Umar claimed only the dissident lawmaker was “aware of such news.”
In his turn at the podium, the information minister said the government had urged the PTI supporters of the dissident lawmakers’ constituencies to “remain calm.” However, he added, they were free to exercise their right to assembly to register their protest.
Describing Raja Riaz, who is staying at Sindh House and is a member of the dissident Jahangir Tareen group, as a “shameless man” for saying the disgruntled MNAs were parting ways with Imran Khan due to their “conscience,” Fawad said they should resign from the party and contest fresh elections if they did not wish to continue with the PTI. “Legal action has been taken against these members,” he said, adding that Zardari’s business model was to “invest” and then become part of the government where he “made money.”