Bilawal Bhutto says
was threatened to
accept elections or
face martial law


ISLAMABAD: A night before the National Assembly voted on the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan, who was ousted as prime minister on April 10, one of his ministers had threatened Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to either accept snap elections or face martial law, the foreign minister claimed Thursday.

“I’d like to share with this House that in the hours leading up to the no-confidence vote, I was sent a message […] a threat that either we [the Pakistan Democratic Movement alliance] accept early elections or the government would bring in the military to take control,” he said on the floor of the House.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressing the National Assembly

This threat, he said, was conveyed to him by a minister through a colleague.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman had initially tried to stop the vote, which was first scheduled to be heard in the National Assembly on April 3, by dissolving Parliament and calling for fresh elections, claiming the vote was part of a “foreign conspiracy” to topple him.

But this manoeuvre was frustrated by the Supreme Court, which declared Khan’s actions in violation of the Constitution and ordered for the vote to go ahead.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman declared alleged the threat was an attempt to foil the vote against Khan which, “despite the provocations of the PTI, was successful within the parameters of the law and the Constitution”.

Khan and his party were still adopting the same strategy where they were trying to create political instability and making irresponsible attacks so that one of two things could happen: early elections without the necessary reforms or that an undemocratic step is taken.

In April, the Guardian, citing sources, reported the message which was sent by a minister to an opposition leader read: “Martial law or elections — your choice.”

FM Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressing the National Assembly

“If martial law is imposed on the country, the opposition parties would be responsible for this, as they have been involved in buying and selling votes,” Fawad Chaudhry, then information minister, told reporters.

In his speech, Bilawal called on the House to form a high-level parliamentary commission to investigate the events leading up to April 3 when the vote was blocked, post-April 3, of the night of April 9 and 10, and the events that have taken place to date after the vote was successful.

The PPP chairman said the “attacks on the constitution and the house” should be taken seriously, and an investigation should be held to determine who was at fault.

“Even the Supreme Court termed the previous government’s acts of April 3 as unconstitutional. In the way that the former government tried to escape from the challenge of the no-confidence motion, it was unconstitutional and the people of Pakistan demand accountability,” he added.