Hours before facing a no-confidence vote in parliament, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday seemed to accept the writing on the wall and urged his supporters to stage peaceful protests across the country when the “new imported government” comes into power Sunday.
In an address to the nation on the eve of a no-trust motion he has little chance of defeating, Khan, 69, cited the example of India as a “self-respecting nation” (khuddar qaum) which no world power can dictate terms to.
He expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court reversing the National Assembly deputy speaker’s rejection of the no-trust motion against him.
“I will not accept this imported government, I will take to street….Only people can bring me to power and I will come back with the help of the people,” he said, adding that his supporters should come out on Sunday evening after the new government is expected to be set up.
I have called a cabinet mtg tomorrow as well as our parl party mtg; & tomorrow evening I will address the nation. My message to our nation is I have always & will continue to fight for Pak till the last ball.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 7, 2022
He said EU envoys had criticised Islamabad for not taking a stand against Russia, but would not dare do the same in India as it is a “sovereign nation”.
He taunted the opposition to announce new elections and face the nation with him. “That is why I dissolved the assembly because I want people to elect the new government,” he said.
“I am ready for the struggle… join me in peaceful protest,” said Khan, who has lost his majority in the 342-member house.
The opposition parties need 172 members in the 342-member house to bring about the downfall of Prime Minister Khan. They have more than the required numbers.
Now, Khan faces the possibility of being the first prime minister in Pakistan’s history to be voted out in a no-confidence motion.
In a landmark 5-0 verdict, a five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Thursday unanimously struck down the deputy speaker’s ruling on the rejection of the no-confidence motion against Khan and ordered restoration of the National Assembly, saying the prime minister’s move to dissolve Parliament and call early elections was “unconstitutional”.
The court also ordered the speaker of the lower house to call the session of the national assembly on April 9 at 10 am (local time) to organise a no-confidence vote. It ordered the election of the new prime minister if the no-confidence motion succeeded.
“I respect the Supreme Court and the judiciary, but the apex court should have looked at a threat letter before issuing its verdict,” Khan said in his address – perhaps his last to the nation as prime minister this term.
“I am saddened by the verdict, but I accept it,” he said, adding that the apex court could have at least asked for and looked at the document because this is a very big issue and there was no discussion on it in the court.
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Khan in recent weeks has talked about a ‘threat letter’ and claimed that it was part of a foreign conspiracy to remove him as he was not acceptable for following an independent foreign policy.
He said he has a great wish that people could see the document but refused to share it citing national security. He has shared its gist in his own words.
Khan repeated his allegations that a US diplomat threatened regime change in Pakistan.
He said that during the meeting between the Pakistani ambassador and the US official, the latter complained that “I [Imran Khan] should not have visited [Russia].”
“It is so shameful for the 220 million people of Pakistan that a foreign official is ordering the sitting prime minister of the country through a third person, warning of severe consequences and alluring them of forgiveness if I [Imran Khan] leave the office,” he said.
He then asked his people: “If we have to live like this, then why did we get freedom (from the British).”
He asked the people to come out and reject the foreign conspiracy to remove the government. “If you are not standing up, no one will come to save you,” he said.