ISLAMABAD - Leaders of the opposition parties on Monday lashed out at Prime Minister Imran Khan for imposing what they said ‘civilian martial law’ in the country through unconstitutional actions.

Opposition Leader in National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif termed the four-year tenure of the PTI-led government a period of ‘an individual government, totalitarian and fascist.

“PTI used Article 5 to prevent them from the embarrassment that they would have faced after their defeat in case of voting on the no-confidence motion,” Shehbaz said while addressing a press conference. He was flanked by PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and JUI-F leader Asad Mehmood, MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, BNP-M Chief Akhtar Mengal and others.

He said that PM Imran Khan, along with his party members, have blatantly challenged the Constitution of Pakistan. “April 3 will be remembered as a black day in the history of Pakistan,” he said, adding that PM Imran Khan imposed civilian martial law, while General Pervez Musharraf also took a similar unconstitutional decision on November 3, 2007.

Regarding the “foreign threat letter” controversy, the leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly said that Pakistan’s Ambassador Asad Majeed hosted a farewell dinner on March 16 and invited all US officials, even those who were accused by PM Imran Khan.” Moreover, he added that, in his tweet, Asad Majeed thanked Donald Lu over good relations and cooperation.

“If the letter was dated March 7 and highlighted the involvement of Donald Lu, why was the ambassador acknowledging the US official during the dinner on March 16,” he highlighted, questioning why Lu was invited for the dinner if had threatened Pakistan. The PML-N leader said that if they had received the “foreign letter” on March 7, then “why did they not highlight this issue earlier.”Shehbaz says steps taken by Imran Khan, his party members are ‘contrary to Constitution’

We have shown 197 votes and we want voting on no-confidence motion, demands Bilawal

First constitution should be upheld in country before elections, says Fazl

“According to the speech given by the NA deputy speaker, all Opposition leaders became traitors,” he said, adding that yesterday’s NA proceedings made a joke of the constitution of Pakistan, laws and Parliament.

Regarding former information minister Fawad Chaudhry’s claims about challenging the speaker’s ruling, Shehbaz said: “It is right that no one can challenge the proceedings of the House but the Constitution was blatantly violated, does it have any protection?” He said that the matter is in the Supreme Court and hence, “I will not talk much about it.”

President of PML-N Shehbaz Sharif said the steps taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party members yesterday are contrary to the constitution. Shehbaz Sharif questioned why the matter of Article 5 was not raised when no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister was being tabled in the house.

 

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari prayed the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) to constitute a full court bench to decide about the ruling of the Deputy Speaker on No Confidence Motion and subsequent dissolution of the National Assembly.

Addressing a news conference along with leaders of other political parties, he said no confidence motion is a democratic way to oust Prime Minister. He said we will continue to defend the constitution.

 

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the no-confidence is the only democratic, legal and constitutional means to remove a prime minister. The government has tried to sabotage the no-confidence and does not realise that they committed a huge crime. He has broken the constitution. He could have not dissolved the assembly before the vote on the no-confidence motion.

 

“We want voting on no-confidence motion. The democracy must continue. Imran and his party is so naive that they are celebrating the removal of their own government. Imran’s government has committed suicide.” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that we are the people who protect the democracy and the constitution. Imran would have been removed through voting on no-confidence as we have shown 197 votes in the national assembly. The deputy Speaker, prime minister and president broke the constitution through a conspiracy. Now the Supreme Court has to decide that whether the ego of Imran Khan is important or the constitution. Today is 4 April, the date when the Quaid-e-Awam was judicially assassinated. Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the founder of this constitution and the Presidential reference of this murder is still pending in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court failed to stop the coup of General Zia and General Musharraf.

“Now we request the Supreme Court to stop the coup attempt by Imran Khan. The constitution is not a piece of paper, it binds the federation,” he said. “The process of no-confidence must be completed. If we cannot implement the Constitution in the Parliament then where it could be implemented?, he asked. “The fate of Pakistan will be decided by the verdict of the Supreme Court.”

 

“When there is no leader of the house and the leader of the opposition then consultation on an interim government is futile. No one has power to dissolve the assembly when a no-confidence motion had been tabled. We hope from the judiciary to stop the coup by an individual. Imran has made himself an interim prime minister. We want free and fair elections not compromised elections like in 2018.

 

This is an opportunity for the judiciary to remove blot on it in the past rather we all including the Parliament and all other institutions have to remove the blot on them. The opposition had submitted a no-confidence against the Speaker so his powers were ended to prorogue the session. The Supreme Court should tell us that whether Qasim Suri had the power to declare more than half the strength of the National Assembly? This joke must end. We hope that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated.

 

On this occasion, JUI-F leader Maulana Asad Mahmood said that Monday [April 3] was the darkest day in the history of Pakistan. He said PM Imran Khan is trying to pressurise the institutions. Mahmood said that they [the joint Opposition] will not accept international pressure being imposed under the guise of a “threat letter”.

He suggested that the higher courts of Pakistan hold him PM Khan accountable for his statements regarding the credibility of judges.

 

In a separate news conference on Monday, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the Opposition could move toward elections once the Constitution has been upheld in the country.

The PDM chief lashed out at the deputy speaker for not taking the Opposition’s input while making the decision and censured the president for obeying the prime minister’s directives without asking any questions. “The entire country has been pushed into a crisis [...] our only demand is that the deputy speaker’s ruling is declared illegal,” Fazl said, terming Suri’s decision as “controversial and unconstitutional”.

 

The PDM chief said the deputy speaker issued a “controversial” decision based on a “controversial letter” as he warned the PTI and the prime minister that the Opposition would “not back down”.

“All of these unconstitutional moves are being made to come into power again — illegally,” the PDM chief said, adding that the prime minister has sought a safe exit by dissolving the assemblies. Fazl said the Opposition wants the courts to uphold the law and declare the deputy speaker’s decision illegal.

 

Meanwhile, Bilawal Bhutto also urged Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar to clarify the proceedings of the 37th National Security Council (NSC) meeting held last week. Taking to his Twitter handle, Bilawal said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is using a “foreign conspiracy” to justify his “coup”. He further wrote: “ExPM IK is using ‘foreign conspiracy’ to justify his coup. Will @OfficialDGISPR clarify did NSC meeting declare the 197 members of NA traitors and part of a foreign plot? Can foreign office or defense ministry produce any official correspondence between 7-27th on foreign sazish.”