Imran Khan Cancels Address to Nation After Meeting With Pak Army, ISI Chiefs | Key Points
Pakistan’s embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday canceled his address to the nation. Speculations were rife that the cricketer-turned-politician is expected to announce his resignation from the post today after his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s ally and the main coalition partner Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM) joined hands with the Opposition. According to sources, the resignation of the 69-year-old leader will come directly now.
Earlier in the day, the country’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had said that the Prime Minister will address the nation and discuss the prevailing political situation. However, PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan later confirmed the cancellation of the PM’s address.
Pakistan plunged into a political crisis after the Opposition parties filed a no-trust motion in the National Assembly on March 8. Voting on it is expected on April 3.
No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office
Here are the top developments of the ongoing political turmoil in Pakistan:
PM’s MEETING WITH CABINET, JOURNALISTS
Prime Minister Khan shared some details from what he called a “foreign conspiracy letter” with senior journalists and cabinet members, asserting that the document was authentic. Khan waved a purported letter at a public rally on March 27 declaring that a foreign conspiracy was afoot to remove him from power, touting the Opposition’s no-confidence motion against him as a testimony of a foreign-funded move to topple his government.
Several Opposition leaders had asked Khan to divulge the details of the letter while denouncing it as an effort to divert pressure and hold on to power. Khan first took the cabinet in confidence on the letter when Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi briefed the participants about it.
It was followed by a meeting of the premier with a group of journalists who were also briefed about it. ARY News channel said that the letter was based on the minutes of a meeting of a Pakistan embassy official with officials of the host country.
Geo News quoted the premier telling the journalists that threatening language was used in the letter and it also talked about the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister even before it was submitted in the National Assembly. The premier refused to share the exact threatening words used in the letter, the channel reported, adding the name of the country was also not disclosed.
Imran Khan Loses Majority
Khan has effectively lost majority in Parliament after the MQM-P, a key ally of the PTI-led coalition government, with its seven members announced that it has parted ways with the government during a joint press conference of the opposition parties in Islamabad.
Prime Minister Khan needs 172 votes in the lower house of 342 to foil the Opposition’s bid to topple him. However, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islama Fazl (JUI-F), said that the Opposition has the support of 175 lawmakers and the Prime Minister should resign. It was also announced that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif would be next prime minister of the country after removal of 69-year-old Khan.
“We want to make a new beginning for politics of tolerance and true democracy,” MQM-P chief Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui told reporters. “I announce to support the opposition in the parliament.” Sharif said that it was an important day as all opposition parties have joined together to address the problems faced by Pakistan. “The premier, even if he is a selected one, should resign to set a new tradition,” he said.
Another ally of the ruling coalition, the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) with five members in the lower house had announced on Monday that it had “accepted the opposition’s invitation” to vote against Khan.
‘Imran Khan Won’t Resign’
Khan will play till his last ball and won’t resign, said Neelam Irshad Sheikh, spokesperson of the ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), in an exclusive conversation with CNN-News18. “PM Imran Khan is not stepping down. He is an elected prime minister. He’ll play till his last ball,” Sheikh said, adding that Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa and ISI chief Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum have reached the PM’s house to meet Khan.
National Security Committee Meet Likely
Reportedly, Khan was also planning to summon a meeting of the National Security Committee, comprising top military and civil leadership, to discuss the letter and its implications. He may also brief Parliament in a closed-door session.