New Delhi: It’s a war of the worlds in Pakistan — between Prime Minister Imran Khan and everything around him. Now, Pakistan’s opposition parties have submitted a no-confidence motion against Khan for being unable to control inflation. With this move, which some supporters allege is a ‘foreign conspiracy’, Khan becomes only the third Pakistan PM to face the trial, joining the likes of Shaukat Aziz and Benazir Bhutto. While people on his side ‘stand’ staunchly by him, the opposition parties think it’s ‘game over’.
The no-confidence motion, signed by 100 lawmakers from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and others, has been submitted to the National Assembly.
Although many leaders from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan’s party, have come out in his support, Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s comment was the most noteworthy.
Striking at the Pakistani opposition, Chaudhry tweeted: “There is only one leader in this country — Imran Khan. All ‘dwarfs’ can try and work together. Defeat is once again the future of political dwarfs.”
اس ملک کا ایک ہی لیڈر ہے۔۔ عمران خان، سب بونے مل کر زور لگا لیں شکست ایک بار پھر سیاسی بونوں کا مستقبل ہے۔۔۔۔
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) March 8, 2022
But Twitter users were having none of this. User Babar Khan was quick to point out that he had said something to the same effect for about five other leaders as well, while Umer Khalid wondered who the next ‘victim’ of Fawad Chaudhry’s doomed words would be.
Who will be the next victim of fawad chaudhary??
— Umer Khalid (@umerkhalid684) March 8, 2022
Imran Khan’s ‘survival’
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Opposition has turned the heat on Imran Khan. Senior lawmakers affiliated with the nine-party Opposition alliance — the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — submitted the no-confidence motion against Khan’s government after weeks of deliberation after PDM President Fazlur Rehman had announced on 11 February.
It has since become one of the biggest talking points in Pakistani media. Dawn, in its editorial, ‘Rocky road for PM’ said that Imran Khan was facing “a bigger threat from within his party”.
“Indeed, a sitting government has enough clout to win back rebellious lawmakers and create divisions in the opposition. But now it is near impossible for the PM to bridge the gulf he has created between himself and his old friends Jehangir Tarin and Aleem Khan,” the editorial said.
It also highlighted that such motions were tabled against two premiers before this — Shaukat Aziz in 2006 and Benazir Bhutto in 1989, but both survived.
The Express Tribune, meanwhile, said that the Opposition may succeed in no-trust move despite ruling PTI looking good on paper.
“The opposition is demanding neutrality from the ‘powerful circles’. However, political analysts said the ‘powerful circles’ could still completely change the situation if they started continuing their political management as they had in the past on several occasions since the PTI came to power,” it added.
Appearing on a Geo News segment on the no-confidence motion, an expert pointed out that PPP leader “Asif Ali Zardari’s role is important in this matter, and he has very good relation with Chaudharis.” Bol News also aired a debate on the subject.
PTI’s confidence and support
At least on the face of it, it appears that the Imran Khan government is confident of winning against the opposition’s no-trust motion. Many leaders and politicians, especially from the PTI cadre came out in support of the prime minister. Khan’s supporters also took to Twitter with the hashtag #IStandWithImranKhan.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Dr Shahbaz Gill, said in a tweet: “We welcome the opposition’s distrust. Imran Khan’s message to his nation is that he will fight this buying and selling in any case. Imran Khan will never give NRO to these thieves. Khan is ready to compete and will defeat him in the last five years. The whole nation stands with Khan.”
ہم اپوزیشن کی عدم اعتماد کو ویلکم کرتے ہیں۔ عمران خان کا اپنی قوم کے لئے پیغام ہے کہ وہ ہر صورت اس خریدو فروخت کا مقابلہ کریں گے۔ عمران خان کسی صورت ان چوروں کو NRO نہیں دیں گے۔
خان مقابلے کے لئے تیار ہے اور ان کو ان پانچ سالوں کی آخری شکست دیں گے۔پوری قوم خان کے ساتھ کھڑی ہے
— Dr. Shahbaz GiLL (@SHABAZGIL) March 8, 2022
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said “submitting a no-confidence motion was the Opposition’s Constitutional right, but we will defeat the opponents.”
Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Farrukh Habib tweeted: “Prime Minister Imran Khan will defeat them [the opposition] so instructively that they will even forget the name of the no-confidence motion.”
ملک کو بے دردی سے لوٹے والے تین ہم نواؤں کا چوری اور الٹا سینا زوری کے سوا کچھ نہیں ہے۔عوام ان تینوں کو جان چکی ہے کہ انکا لوٹ مار کا سفر کہاں سے شروع ہوا اور ارب پتی کیسے بنے ہیں۔
وزیراعظم عمران خان ان کو ایسی عبرت ناک شکست دیں گے کہ یہ تحریک عدم اعتماد کا نام تک بھول جائیں گے pic.twitter.com/w3Uuc0ASg4
— Farrukh Habib (@FarrukhHabibISF) March 8, 2022
Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed also voiced his support of Imran Khan on ARY News: “Inshaallah Imran Khan will win this vote.” he said.
PTI’s official Twitter account was also active in garnering support for the prime minister. It tweeted a clip of a debate on Ary News, where Senator Faisal Javed Khan spoke, it claims, “on the struggle of PM Imran Khan and PTI vs the manufactured parties fooling the Nation for last several decades.”
— PTI (@PTIofficial) March 8, 2022
Many of his supporters also spoke out on Twitter.
“Imran Khan may have blundered, but he hasn’t plundered. And that’s why I stand with him,” tweeted user Hassan Aslam Shad, while Uman Sarfraz Malik tweeted a picture of the prime minister holding a shovel, with the caption: “Imran Khan is digging graves of the opposition parties/Traitors.”
Imran Khan may have blundered but he hasn't plundered. And that's why I stand with him. Look around you: do you see any Pakistani politician of character or competence fit to run a grocery store, let alone a country of 220 million people?
— Hassan Aslam Shad (@HassShad) March 8, 2022
Imran Khan is digging graves of the opposition parties/Traitors. Inshallah, such graves will be dug that thieves & looters will not be able to rise till 2028.😎✌️💪#IstandwithImranKhan#BehindYouSkipper pic.twitter.com/rbab052e9L
— 𝐔𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐒𝐚𝐫𝐟𝐫𝐚𝐳 𝐌𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐤 (@Uman_00) March 9, 2022
Reacting to Imran Khan’s claim that the Pakistan Army “would never support ‘these thieves’,” Journalist Naila Inayat tweeted: “Tum se pehle vo jo ek shakhs yahan takht nasheen tha, uss ko bhi army ki support pe itna hi yaqeen tha.” (The person who you succeeded also believed in the support of the army as much as you do.)
tum se pehle vo jo ek shakhs yahan takht nasheen tha
uss ko bhi army ki support pe itna hi yaqeen tha https://t.co/Ak9B6cIwFE
— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) March 8, 2022
Inayat also pointed out how the federal minister of education, Shafqat Mahmood, ‘fanned conspiracy that opposition to Pakistan prime minister is being backed by the United States and European Union and later deleted his tweet.’
Opposition says it’s ‘game over’
The Opposition also had its fair share of supporters, who countered Imran Khan’s support with the hashtag #GameOverIK.
PPP Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted: “Sea of people receive our #awamimarch at #Rawalpindi. For the last 10 days, the people have marched with the truth. Imran Khan! Your time is up. We will reach Islamabad no matter what.”
Sea of people receive our #awamimarch at #Rawalpindi . For the last 10 days, the people have marched with the truth. Imran Khan! Your time is up.
We will reach Islamabad no matter what. #GameOverIK#AwamiMarch pic.twitter.com/KkDC7sXFpz
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) March 8, 2022
According to a Dawn report, Zardari, addressing the crowd at D-Chowk, in front of Parliament House on Tuesday night, said: “I warn all allies, facilitators and supporters of the PTI government not to interfere in politics to save the ‘puppet’ prime minister. It is the last chance for you… to show that you stand with the people of the country”.
Much of the Opposition support on Twitter highlighted the crowd that gathered in the Avami March, while user Saba Hyder tweeted: “Democracy is the best revenge.”
My city hasn’t witnessed such a massive public gathering in its history. While the crowd in front of @BBhuttoZardari is kilometres long, spread over 8 lanes of Jinnah Avenue, the tail of #AwamiMarch still hasn’t reached the Zero point. That’s at least 12KM long. 😱😱
— Ali Haider (@AlyHydr) March 8, 2022
— Senator Saeed Ghani (@SaeedGhani1) March 8, 2022
— Suresh Maheshwary (@SureshM39476282) March 8, 2022
— Saba Hyder (@SabaHyder1) March 8, 2022