ISLAMABAD: Pakistani interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Friday government lawmakers should resign en-masse from the National Assembly, a day before the lower house of parliament votes on a no-confidence resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan that he is widely expected to lose.
Opposition lawmakers last month filed a motion of no-confidence against PM Khan, demanding he step down over his alleged failure to improve Pakistan’s economy and soaring inflation. But last Sunday, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Suri threw out the motion, saying it was unconstitutional and part of a “foreign conspiracy.”
The president then dissolved the assemblies on the prime minister’s advice, unleashing a constitutional crisis that ended on Thursday, when the Supreme Court overruled the deputy speaker’s decision as “unconstitutional” and restored the National Assembly.
The court also ordered National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to summon a session on April 9 at 10 a.m. to allow voting on the no-confidence motion.
“We should resign [en masse] with one voice and [opposition politicians should] come out [of the National Assembly] to reveal their true faces to the masses,” the interior minister told reporters.
Khan lost his majority last month when the government’s largest ally in the National Assembly, the Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), quit the ruling coalition and agreed to side with the opposition in the no-confidence motion. Over a dozen lawmakers from Khan’s own party have also defected.
The PM has accused the US of backing the opposition’s campaign to oust him from power, saying his government’s quest to formulate an “independent foreign policy,” particularly with regards ties with Russia and China, had angered the US.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said on Friday that he had told Prime Minister Imran Khan that “mass resignations” were the “last option” left for the government. He said “a wave of disappointment has taken over the nation after the decision”.
He said that the sentiment among the people was that a conspiracy was under way to bring those involved in corruption to power. “But if someone believes that we are laying down our weapons, have no [misconceptions],” he said. “We will fight till our last breath against these thugs, robbers and looters,” he added, referring to the opposition.
He then told media persons that yesterday he had told PM Imran that “we should all resign” as this was the “last option” because the country would not be able to function with “robbers and thugs” at the helm.
“I had suggested [submitting] resignations three months ago as I knew what the issues were,” Rashid said without elaborating further. “I was right in saying that we should resign and hold new elections. I was right when I said impose an emergency and I was right when I said to impose governer’s rule. And I say this today as well that we all should resign together […] and expose their (the opposition’s) real faces to the nation.”
The minister said opposition parties would destroy the country’s “independent foreign policy”.