ISLAMABAD: A top Pakistani opposition leader said on Tuesday opposition parties would take a "unanimous decision" about their nominee for the new prime minister, hours after filing a no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan that would see the fall of his government if the request gets a majority vote in parliament.
Last month, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of opposition parties, announced it planned to topple the Khan government through a vote of no confidence in parliament.
Video footage released by the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-) party showed a group of opposition leaders at the National Assembly Secretariat, submitting the motion on Tuesday.
“Congrats,” opposition lawmaker Shazia Marri said in the video footage to her colleagues as an official signed and stamped the document.
“We have submitted the no-confidence motion in the National Assembly Secretariat and their days are numbered now,” PDM chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman said at a joint press conference in Islamabad, alongside PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
“We want to make it clear that a unanimous decision will be taken about the nominee of our prime minister. Consider it a secret document for now.”
Rehman accused the government of ruining the economy and failing to fulfill election promises. He said opposition parties were united in the “national interest” and confident of the success of their no-confidence move.
“We have no enmity with any institution, but we have to take the country forward,” the PDM chief said, criticizing the government for its “flawed” foreign policy.
Members of the ruling party have said PM Khan is the only leader in the country and they will “constitutionally” defend themselves in the face of the no-confidence motion.
“Bringing a no-confidence motion is their constitutional right. We will fight them constitutionally, legally and politically and defeat them, God willing,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a statement.
Qureshi said Khan was an elected prime minister who was given a huge mandate by the people of Pakistan in 2018. “I am sure all members of the party will make the right decision and will support Imran Khan in their decisions,” he added.
Information minister and close Khan aide Chaudhry Fawad Hussain tweeted: “There is only one leader in this country, Imran Khan.”
Several other members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf expressed their support for PM Khan on Twitter using #IstandwithImranKhan.
Speaking at the opposition’s presser, Zardari said all opposition parties had agreed that dislodging the government was “a matter of now or never.”
“We consulted each other and agreed that no single party can steer Pakistan out of this crisis,” the PPP co-chairman said.
“We will bring more than 172 votes as many friends within their [PTI] party are not happy. They all have to go back to their constituencies and what answer will they give [to their voters].”
Sharif said there was no such example of destruction in the country’s history what this government had done. “People will not forgive us if this [no-confidence motion] was delayed further.”
The developments came at a time when thousands of opposition supporters rallied to the federal capital, Islamabad, to demand the premier step down.
Police in Islamabad beefed up security by deploying additional uniformed personnel on Tuesday ahead of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) long march which is expected to reach the federal capital later today.
The PPP started marching toward Islamabad from Karachi last week to mount political pressure on Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign while demanding fresh elections in the country.
As many as 10,000 personnel belonging to the Punjab police, Rangers and Frontier Constabulary have been deployed in the capital along with the Islamabad Police to ensure security of the participants of the march.
“The main area designated for the public gathering has been cordoned off and security has been beefed up in the capital,” Awais Ahmed, deputy inspector general police, said while talking to the media.
He said a separate parking area was also designated for the participants of the rally while police were carrying out sweep and search operations in the capital to avoid any untoward incident.
“Fool-proof security arrangements have been put in place in Islamabad for the rally,” inspector Naeem Iqbal, a spokesperson for the Islamabad Police, told Arab News.
He said a drone unit for surveillance was also deployed in the city along with snipers and special security staff near important government buildings.
Iqbal said the participants of the rally were scheduled to disperse peacefully by 8pm, though he added they could extend the program until 11pm.
The traffic police in Islamabad also placed diversions on different roads while designating alternate routes for general public.
According to an official handout, Pakistan’s interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed visited a control room to review the security situation in the federal capital.
He expressed satisfaction over the security arrangements made for the march and directed officials to watch out for any miscreants.
“It is the democratic right of people to arrange demonstrations and protest marches,” he said. “However, nobody will be allowed to take law into their hands.”