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Khan refuses to resign ahead of trust vote in Pakistani parliament

'No one should be under the false impression I'll sit at home. I'll not resign, and why should I? Should I resign due to the pressure from thieves?' Khan posed

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Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan today said he would not resign at any cost and claimed to have a “surprise” up his sleeve for the opposition, even as at least three allies of the ruling coalition indicated they would vote against his government during the no-trust motion that would come up for discussion in the Pakistani parliament (the National Assembly) later this month. “I will not resign under any circumstance. I will play till the last ball (…) and I will surprise them (opposition) a day before as they are still under pressure,” Prime Minister Khan said without revealing further details.

Talking to reporters here, he said the opposition had laid all of their cards, but the no-confidence motion against him would not be successful. “My trump card is that I have not laid any of my cards yet,” Khan said confidently.

“No one should be under the false impression that I will sit at home. I will not resign, and why should I? Should I resign due to the pressure from thieves?” Khan said while referring to the opposition leaders’ no-trust vote against him.

Around 100 from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) submitted the no-confidence motion before the National Assembly Secretariat on 8 March, alleging that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government led by Prime Minister Khan was responsible for the economic crisis and the spiralling inflation in the country.

On 20 March, the National Assembly Secretariat had issued a notification, paving the way for holding the key session on 25 March.

Khan said it was wrong to consistently and criticise the army as a powerful military was crucial for Pakistan. “Had the army not been here, the country would have split into three parts. The army should not be criticised for politicking,” he said.

The prime minister also said his statement on neutrality was taken in the “wrong context”.

“I said that in the context of preventing evil and asking people to do good.” Khan said he has good relations with the military to date.

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

Earlier this month, the powerful army distanced itself from the brewing political situation in the country, saying it has nothing to do with politics.

Meanwhile, at least three allies, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), the Pakistan Muslims League-Quaid (PML-Q) and the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) with their 17 members have indicated to join the opposition.

Citing sources, it said that the MQM-P, the PML-Q and the BAP have decided to part ways ahead of the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Khan and an announcement would be made on 25 March.

“They (MQM-P) will announce that they are with us in a day or two. After meeting the MQM-P leadership, I am completely satisfied that the no-confidence motion will be successful,” the head of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Maulana Fazlur Rehman, said.

Khan, 69, is heading a coalition government and he can be removed if some of the partners decide to switch sides.

In the 342-member National Assembly, the Opposition needs 172 votes to remove Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician.

The PTI has 155 members in the House and needs at least 172 on its side to remain in the government. The party has the support of 23 members belonging to at least six political parties.

The allies are not the only worry for Khan as he faced a revolt from within the PTI after about two dozen recently announced to part ways and vote against him.

Though the government has been claiming that it has settled issues with the allies as well as the dissidents, Khan is not out of the woods as yet.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid today said that voting on the no-trust motion against Khan would be held before the end of next week.

The National Assembly session summoned on March 25 would be adjourned after offering ‘fateha’ (prayer) for a lawmaker who died some weeks ago, he told reporters outside the prime minister’s house here.

“As per tradition, the session will be adjourned after prayer for the welfare of the departed soul… But the speaker can fix any day between March 30 and April 1 for voting on the no-confidence motion,” Rashid said.

The minister announced that a planned rally by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on March 27 here will decide who enjoys the real support of the masses.

“If they (Opposition) are confident of its success, so are we,” he said.

On Monday, the Khan government filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking clarification on a constitutional point over disqualification of dissident who have threatened to vote against him during the no-trust motion.

General Khalid Jawed Khan submitted the move, also called a presidential reference, about interpretation of Article 63-A of the in the wake of nearly two dozen of the ruling party threatening to vote in favour of the opposition’s no-trust motion.

The article says that anyone voting against the directive of the party leader on key issues like no-trust move or money bill will be disqualified. The is silent on the duration of disqualification, but Prime Minister Khan has threatened life-time disqualification for the dissidents.

A two-judge bench, comprising Pakistan Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Munib Akhtar, announced to form a larger five-member bench and adjourned the hearing till 24 March.

Khan’s party is trying to seek a ruling that an erring member’s vote should not be counted, so that vote of its dissident in the favour of the no-trust move should not add to the total number of votes against the prime minister.

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