Multiparty opposition alliance says it will announce a date for the move after it has completed its ‘homework’ and secured numbers for it to succeed
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a multiparty opposition alliance led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, on Friday announced that it has unanimously decided to table in Parliament a no-confidence motion against the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.
Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the PDM in Lahore that was virtually attended by leaders not in the city, Fazl stopped shy of specifying any date for the move, merely stressing that all the parties comprising the PDM had decided that it was time for the “illegal government to be sent packing.”
Flanked by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Vice President Maryam Nawaz, and Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz, he said the PDM would approach the government’s allied parties to secure a majority in the National Assembly to ensure the no-confidence motion against the prime minister succeeds.
“We will first do our homework, so we cannot talk about a definite timeframe for this move,” he said, adding that the government’s allied parties should keep the plight of the masses in their mind and make their decision accordingly. “When it comes to politics, you have to have a big heart,” he said. “We are political people, so we will make calculated decisions,” he added.
The PDM chief, who also heads the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), said the opposition alliance would “not contact any PTI member,” but would be willing to consider their involvement if they initiated contact. “We are neither going to bribe anyone nor lure them by offering any seats,” he claimed.
To a question, Fazl claimed that the “work” related to the no-confidence motion would be completed before the PDM’s planned long march against inflation, which is set to begin on March 23. The Pakistan Peoples Party, which is not a part of the PDM, is planning its own long march on the federal capital from Feb. 27.
“The PDM has announced the no-confidence motion at this stage because we have a firm intention of doing so. Without preparations, we cannot give a date, so let us do our work,” the PDM chief said in response to a question on why the decision was being announced if the opposition still lacked the numbers for it to proceed.
To another question, he said that long march on March 23 would proceed as scheduled.
In his turn at the podium, PMLN’s Shahbaz said it was too early to say how long it would take for the opposition to pull together the numbers to ensure the government was ousted.
In a posting on Twitter, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari hailed the PDM’s decision, claiming it would serve as a “victory for democracy” if all opposition parties united for a no-confidence motion. “The P.M. has lost the confidence of the people, it is about time he lost the confidence of Parliament,” he added.
Reacting to the PDM’s announcement, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain challenged the opposition to bring about the no-trust motion “tomorrow.” In a video statement, he claimed that “nobody can dare” to table a no-confidence motion against the PTI-led government, adding that the PTI would soon give the opposition a “surprise.”
Similarly, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed also dared the opposition to proceed with its long march and the no-confidence motion. “However, they do not have the manpower to move forward with their long march,” he claimed. “The Opposition does not even know how many of their members will cast the vote of no-confidence against the incumbent government,” he said, adding that even if the entire opposition united against Prime Minister Imran Khan, it would be unable to oust him.