Sh Rashid proposes Governor’s rule in

Sindh to stop ‘vote selling, buying’

CM Murad warns of ‘unprecedented retaliation from people of Sindh’

 

ISLAMABAD   -  In what appeared to be the biggest blow to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, at least two dozen Members of National Assembly (MNAs) of the same party Thursday appeared in the opposition’s camp ahead of the no-trust vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Apparently, the dissident lawmakers have changed their loyalties since they are openly criticising the policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan who is facing no-confidence motion. At the same time, some key federal ministers of the government accused the opposition parties of spending millions of rupees to buy loyalties of treasury members and alleged that Sindh House, which is under the administrative control of opposition PPP-led Sindh government, located in Islamabad’s Red Zone has become a hub of horse-trading.

This all started on Thursday when some dissident legislators of the PTI came out openly on TV screens apparently to say good-bye to the government while they were found staying at Sindh House. They claimed that they have shifted at the new place from the Parliament Lodges due to the security concerns and threat of some police action against them.

‘Governor’s rule in Sindh’

Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said Thursday that he had advised Prime Minister Imran Khan to impose governor’s rule in Sindh. Talking to the media in Islamabad, he accused the Sindh government of “buying and selling” lawmakers’ votes, terming it a “conspiracy against democracy.”

He also said that there was no other solution in Sindh rather to impose Governor’s rule as the provincial government was openly violating the constitution by doing horse trading.

Now the blackmailers, vote’s sellers and vote’s buyers deserved no concession, he tweeted.

He said PM Imran Khan would now have to impose Governor’s rule in Sindh. To date, Sindh province witnessed Governor’s rule thrice, he said. He said on February 25, 2009, on the recommendations of the then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, President Asif Ali Zardari under Article 237 of the Constitution, had imposed governor’s rule against the government of Shehbaz Sharif for two-month.

“We are not going to send police to Sindh House as they (dissident PTI lawmakers) went to Sindh House because of their greed for money,” he said, adding that the matter was between the lawmakers and their constituents. The minister reiterated that Prime Minister Imran Khan would emerge victorious and the no-confidence motion against him would face defeat.

Duties were assigned to the ministers to continue consultation with all allied parties of the government, he added. He expressed the hope that whenever the allied parties would take decision they would decide in favor of the Prime Minister.

‘Unprecedented retaliation’

Responding to the warning of the federal interior minister regarding Governor’s rule, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that the action would provoke unprecedented retaliation from the people of Sindh.

“Let me categorically state that any unconstitutional move by the Federal Government to impose Governor’s rule in Sindh, will provoke an unprecedented retaliation from the people of Sindh,” tweets Sindh chief minister.

In a press statement, PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar demanded PM Imran Khan to resign after several PTI MNAs appeared in the open against the federal government.

Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said, “Today, Imran Khan has lost moral legitimacy to run government and the country. Clearly, the Imran Khan has no majority in the House.”

He also said, “Imran Khan would be shocked to know names of federal ministers who are in contact with the opposition parties,” he said. “One federal minister told me PM is unaware of the gravity of the situation.”

Senator Mustafa Nawaz said, “I would advise PM not to believe in the statements of federal ministers. Neither should public believe in the claims of ministers. PM should step back order to avoid political and constitutional crisis”, Senator Khokhar said.

‘Lottay and sell-outs’

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Thursday urged National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to take steps for lifetime disqualification of those who were selling out their loyalties amid the no-trust move.

“Lottay (turncoats) and sell-outs have started appearing out of the fear of action. The last five persons have got Rs 150 to 200 million,” he said in a tweet while accusing the opposition leaders of setting up “markets of horses and mules”.

Those (elected on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf tickets), who had sold out their “consciousness”, should have first resigned from their (National Assembly) seats, he added.

Also, Fawad Hussain said that there were reports of transfer of huge amount of money to Sindh House.

Talking to PTV he said private force has been called to keep the people confined in Sindh House.

At present, he said that Sindh House had become centre of horse trading. The minister said sale-purchase of loyalties of legislators was unconstitutional. He said the government was preparing a strong action plan against horse trading.

Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also urged Prime Minister Imran Khan not to provoke the opposition by threats.

In a tweet, Bilawal hinted that there was more to come in the coming days. The PPP Chairman said that the lawmakers were being threatened with dire consequences if they take part in the no-confidence motion.

“MNAs (Members of National Assembly) have been threatened with violence, arrest and dire consequences if they take part in the no-confidence process. Their lives, liberty and family are under threat. MNAs will take any and all means for their own protection against this fascist regime,” he said.

The PPP Chairman also expressed that they will do all they can to ensure their protection, adding that the party will not reveal all of its cards. He also said that a few friends will respond to the accusations by Imran Khan.

Bilawal said that the government must not provoke them. He said out of respect for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Conference they do not want anarchy in the city of Islamabad.

“PPP and PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) will do all we can to protect them. We will not show all our cards now. IA (Insha Allah) a few friends will respond to IKs (Imran Khan’s) accusations. More to come in coming days. Out of respect of OIC conference we don’t want anarchy in Islamabad. Government must not provoke us,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, former prime minister and PPP Vice Chairman Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said at a press conference here that the opposition had the right to protect its members.

He said that the PPP had neither kidnapped any member of the Assembly nor the PPP was involved in horse-trading.

“Members of the National Assembly are staying in Sindh House for their own protection. They feel safe in the Sindh House,” he said.

Gilani, who is the Opposition Leader in the Senate, said that the PPP has never resorted to any undemocratic means but the government wanted to clash with the opposition.

“The announcement of holding a public gathering on the eve of voting in the National Assembly on the no-confidence motion is a clear proof of their defeat,” he added.

The government, the PPP stalwart said, should bring 172 members in the assembly instead of bringing one million people on the street.

He said that the Chairman Senate and the Speaker National Assembly were running a campaign for the government which was not in their mandate. “They should play an impartial role,” he added.

Gilani said that the parties in the government were in negotiation with the opposition. “The PPP has accepted all the points put forward by the MQM,” he said.

To a question, he said since the police attacked Parliament Lodges the members were considering themselves unsafe so “we have shifted them to the Sindh House.”

He said that the voting on the no-confidence will be open and everyone will know that who is against and who is for the motion.

Most of the legislators who have defected from the ruling PTI had either joined the party between 2016 to 2018 before the general election or won the last election as independent candidates and later joined the treasury benches.

The PTI that has a total 179 members, including lawmakers of its allies, in the National Assembly would ultimately lose majority in the lower house if such a large number of lawmakers defected to the opposition on the day of crucial voting of no-confidence motion against PM Khan. The premier would need 172 numbers to retain his seat and his government.

MNA Raja Riaz Ahmad from Faisalabad, who is already a member of the disgruntled group of lawmakers of the ruling party leader by Jahangir Khan Tareen, was the first one who in a TV interview claimed that around 24 lawmakers of the PTI including him were staying at Sindh House due to fears of the police action. He added that many other lawmakers of PTI wanted to join the opposition ranks but it was becoming difficult for the PML-N to adjust them by awarding party tickets for the next election.

Riaz said that earlier Islamabad police attacked the lodges and one of the oppositions MNAs was tortured. He said that they shifted to Sindh House fearing Lodges was not a safe place for them.  He said that they would vote according to their conscience. Another MNA from the same city, Nawaz Sher Waseer sitting beside him said that they would not be contesting the next election on the PTI ticket.

Both the lawmakers said this a day after Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi in an interview had remarked that around a dozen members of the PTI had become dissidents and were in the safe custody of the opposition.

Who are the dissidents?

The names of PTI lawmakers who have become dissidents and are staying at Sindh House include Noor Alam Khan (NA-27, Peshawar), Rana Muhammad Qasim Noon (NA-159, Multan), Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan Mazari (NA-195, Rajanpur), Sayed Basit Ahmed Sultan (NA-185, Muzaffargarh), Ramesh Kumar Vankwani (an elected member on a non-Muslim seat) and two women lawmakers elected on special seats including Ms Wajiha Qamar and Ms Nuzhat Pathan.

The names of three other dissident MNAs include Ahmed Hussain Deharr (NA-154, Multan), Abdul Ghaffar Wattoo (NA-166, Bahawalnagar) and Khawaja Sheraz Mehmood (NA-189, D.G. Khan) who are either staying at Parliament Lodges or some other places.

Most of the dissident MNAs belong to the south Punjab and almost all of them had already been voicing their concerns over the policies of the Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government.

The sources in the opposition parties claimed that some dissident MNAs of PTI were also staying at least two other places including a farm house of an opposition party lawmaker in Islamabad.

 Sindh provincial minister Saeed Ghani talking to a private TV channel said that the number of dissident PTI lawmakers was much more than 24 and allies of the ruling party would also part ways with the government soon.

Earlier, the government had objected over the move of the Sindh government what it said that the provincial government has dispatched 400 personnel of the Special Security Unit of provincial Police to be deployed at Sindh House and termed it a flagrant violation of law. In reaction, PPP, the ruling party in the province, alleged that the government was planning a police action on the House where its lawmakers were staying due to security reasons.

Hours after dissenting MNAs came out openly against the government, three key federal ministers of the PTI addressing a press conference said that the government would fight to the last but Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party would not offer heft money to the lawmakers in exchange for support against the no-trust motion.

“PM Imran Khan would stand by his ideology and principles,” said Minister for Planning Asad Umar. He said that boxes filled with money have been brought to the Sindh House to buy loyalties of lawmakers. “The opposition is doing business in the name of democracy,” he said, adding that his party would do everything while remaining within the law and Constitution to defeat the no-trust motion. He said that the premier doesn’t stand for politics of “blackmailing and bribery.”

Energy Minister Hammad Azhar, speaking on the occasion, said that this was the system of horse trading, bribery, and auctions to the tune of Rs 200 million to Rs 400 million. The nation saw that this is the system against which PM Imran Khan took a stand, he also said.

“But we will not do any deals and will not disburse ministries to stay in power,” Azhar said. He underlined that the government had billions of rupees to get loyalties of at least half of MNAs of opposition but it would not do so. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry in the presser said that PTI had rejected blackmailing, horse-trading and wheeling dealing to save its government.

He told reporters that a woman lawmaker has been given 70 million rupees to win over her loyalty. He resembled the Sindh House with Changa Manga politics— a reference to the politics of 1990’s. “The conscience of the people was being bought and sold there.” The information minister said that the dissident lawmakers should first resign as they had got votes in the name of PM Khan and then join the opposition ranks and “give vote according to their conscience.”