'Backdoor efforts underway to reach deal between PM Imran Khan and Opposition'

Pakistan plunged into uncertainty on March 8 after the combined opposition submitted the motion with the National Assembly, which will convene on Thursday to debate the motion.
File Photo of Imran Khan
File Photo of Imran Khan

Lahore, Mar 31: With Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan virtually losing the majority in the 342-member National Assem bly after defection of two key allies, backdoor efforts are underway to reach a deal between the premier and the joint opposition to dissolve the lower house, according to a highly placed source.

The highly placed source in the federal government told PTI on Thursday that backdoor talks between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government and the joint opposition are underway on the issue of no-confidence motion against Khan.

"Talks are focused on one-point the joint opposition withdraws the no-trust motion against Khan and in return he dissolves the National Assembly calling for fresh elections," the source said.

"The top man in the establishment may be a guarantor if the understanding (deal) between the opposition and the government reaches, he added.

"If this deal is cut, the new elections will be held in August this year," he said, adding that since the opposition is not trusting Khan, the guarantor may ally its concerns.

The development comes a day after Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday confirmed a meeting between Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Prime Minister Khan.

The powerful army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 73 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Thursday that the joint opposition should not give safe package' to Khan.

"The selected prime minister should resign without any further delay as he has lost majority in the parliament," he said.

Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz secretary general Ahsan Iqbal told PTI that his party wanted fresh polls forthwith.

"We don't want to carry the 'garbage' of Imran Khan till completion the tenure of the National Assembly (till mid next year). If the joint opposition remains in power for more than one year without going for fresh mandate, it would become unpopular like Khan," he said.

Iqbal said only fresh polls can steer Pakistan out of current political crisis.

After defection of the government allies - urban Sindh-based MQM-P and Balochistan based Balochistan Awami Party - the opposition has now managed to cross the magical figure of 172 the minimum number required to form the government at the Centre and now enjoy the support of 177 members in the National Assembly even without nearly over a dozen dissidents of the ruling PTI, who had already publicly declared the withdrawal of their support to the prime minister.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly began on Thursday during which debate on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Khan will be held.

Pakistan plunged into uncertainty on March 8 after the combined opposition submitted the motion with the National Assembly, which will convene on Thursday to debate the motion.

No prime minister in Pakistan's history has ever been ousted through a no-confidence motion, and Khan is the third premier to face the challenge.

Khan came to power in 2018 with promises to create a Naya Pakistan' but miserably failed to address the basic problem of keeping the prices of commodities in control, giving air to the sails of opposition ships to make war on his government.

No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office.

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