24 MPs Defect and Imran Khan in Crisis

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Karachi: Nearly two dozen disgruntled lawmakers from Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ruling party have openly threatened to vote against him on the no-confidence motion tabled in Parliament by the Opposition, in a fresh blow to the embattled premier struggling to cling to power.

Imran Khan met Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday amid the looming no-confidence motion moved by a united opposition. Speculations around the agenda of the meeting were rife, with local media reporting that the two might have discussed the upcoming Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) summit in Pakistan, the unrest in Balochistan and the upcoming no-confidence vote against Imran Khan.

Imran Khan is expected to petition the Supreme Court for a judgment on whether defectors from his party might lose their votes ahead of a no-confidence motion against him. 

Around 100 lawmakers from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) submitted a no-confidence motion before the National Assembly Secretariat on March 8, alleging that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf government led by Khan was responsible for the economic crisis and the spiralling inflation in the country.

The National Assembly session for the move will be convened on March 22 and the voting is likely to be held on March 28.

After the no-trust move was submitted by the joint opposition, some of the partners in the government began to dither but the real shocker for Khan came on Thursday when it emerged that about 24 lawmakers from his own party were ready to part ways to join the push to topple his government.

Raja Riaz, one of the lawmakers, told Geo News that Khan had failed to control inflation while another lawmaker Noor Alam Khan told Samaa News that his multiple grievances were not addressed by the government.

“We are part of more than two dozen members who are not happy with the government policies,” Riaz said “I raised the issue of gas shortage in my constituency many times but nothing was done,” said Khan.

The disgruntled lawmakers have been staying at Sindh House in Islamabad which is a property of the Sindh government and run by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Saeed Ghani, a provincial minister and spokesman of the Sindh government, said the lawmakers fear they will be abducted by the government.

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani is also among the PTI lawmakers staying at Sindh House.

“I was threatened and requested the Sindh Chief Minister to give me a room here (Sindh House),” he was quoted as saying by the Dawn News.

The government accused the Sindh government of abducting the PTI lawmakers to influence them by offering them huge bribes.

But Riaz told Geo News that the lawmakers were staying at the property of their own free will and were ready to move out of it if the prime minister assured them that they would be allowed to vote “according to our conscience”.

Prime Minister Khan consulted his party leaders and ministers on Thursday and was urged by Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid to impose a governor’s rule in Sindh and remove its government as it was involved in buying members of the National Assembly.

“I asked the Prime Minister to impose Governor Rule in Sindh,” Rashid told the media after the meeting.

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