In a significant political development, Pakistan’s military establishment rebutted Imran Khan’s claim that he was asked to choose between three options ahead of the no-confidence motion. Speaking in an exclusive interview with Pakistani news outlet ARY News on Friday, Khan alleged that the military establishment had asked him to either resign, call early elections or face the no-trust motion moved by the opposition. However, sources told The News International that Pakistani Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and the DG ISI met the PM at the request of the ruling government.
While conceding that these three options were mutually discussed by both sides, sources added that the opposition had turned down Khan’s preference for dissolving the National Assembly to conduct early elections. In the interview, Imran Khan said, “Our establishment offered 3 choices. Either you go through with the no-confidence motion, tender resignation, or go for elections. I said that the election is the best option. I can never think of resignation. When it comes to the vote of no-confidence, I believe in fighting till the last ball”.
The Pakistan PM’s fractured relationship with the military was also seen in the fact that he justified the delay in notifying the new ISI chief’s appointment. He revealed, “I worked with General Faiz (Hameed) for three years. I was telling them that we should keep him till the winter. I was even more worried about (the situation in) Afghanistan). Because if a civil war broke out in Afghanistan, Pakistan would have to face the fallout. That’s why I was saying that the most experienced security official should head (ISI) for the sake of Pakistan as it is a difficult time. (Bajwa) had his own view that we have our own system in the Army”.
Imran Khan faces no-trust vote
After completing three and a half years in power, the Imran Khan-led government is under fire over the surging inflation, increasing debt, misgovernance and mishandling of foreign policy which is reflected in the stalling of CPEC projects and US President Joe Biden’s snub. On March 8, Pakistan’s main opposition parties filed a no-confidence motion against Khan. While PTI has secured the support of 4 PML(Q), 3 GDA, 1 BAP and 1 AML MPs, nearly 196 parliamentarians attended a meeting of the opposition at the Sindh House on Wednesday evening.
As this included 1 PML(Q), 1 JWP, 7 MQM, 4 BAP and 22 rebel PTI MPs, it is clear that the opposition has at least 24 more votes than required to win the vote of confidence. On the other hand, the Pakistan PM has cited a diplomatic cable to allege a “foreign conspiracy” to oust him from power. The voting for the no-confidence motion will take place on Sunday, April 3.