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Explained: Will Imran Khan's Govt Fall? Why the No-Confidence Vote? What's Next?

Pakistan PM might be staring at his tenure's biggest political challenge with the upcoming no-confidence vote.

Published
Explainers
5 min read
Explained: Will Imran Khan's Govt Fall? Why the No-Confidence Vote? What's Next?
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After three and a half years of rule, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan might be staring at his tenure's biggest political challenge so far with the no-confidence vote against him likely scheduled for 28 March.

Along with the opposition, a rebellion has risen in Pakistan's ruling party itself, with around two dozen lawmakers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) coming out against PM Khan.

This comes days after around 100 lawmakers from Pakistan's Opposition parties had submitted a no-confidence motion against the ruling government in the National Assembly Secretariat.

But why is there a no-confidence motion against the ruling government? How will the rebellion hurt PM Khan? We explain.

Explained: Will Imran Khan's Govt Fall? Why the No-Confidence Vote? What's Next?

  1. 1. Why is There a No-confidence Motion Against PM Khan?

    Pakistan's Opposition has claimed that Khan’s government is responsible for the economic crisis and the rising inflation in the country.

    “We have taken this decision for the people of Pakistan and not for ourselves,” Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif had said after the motion, signed by about 100 lawmakers from the PML-N and PPP, was submitted with the National Assembly Secretariat.

    Addressing the joint press conference, former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said that a lot of people, including leaders from the ruling party, were upset due to the poor performance of the government. “We have the support of more than 272 members and our move will succeed,” he added.

    The request requiring Khan to seek a parliamentary vote of confidence came after the Opposition, led by the Pakistan People's Party, rallied thousands of supporters to demonstrate against Khan in Islamabad.

    PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, had said in the rally, "Resign in 24 hours and face us in an election... Or be prepared for a no-confidence move."

    Though Khan has responded to the economic crisis with cuts in fuel and electricity prices, the moves have failed to deter the Opposition from trying to throw Khan out.

    Expand
  2. 2. How Do the Numbers Stack Up in the Parliament for PM Khan & the Opposition?

    The former cricketer is heading a coalition government, but without the coalition partners, Khan’s PTI, which has 155 seats in the 342-member National Assembly, would fall short of the 172 needed to retain power.

    Apart from PTI's 155 members in the House, the party has the support of 23 members belonging to at least six political parties.

    Meanwhile, the joint Opposition, which consists of PMLN and the PPP of former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, respectively, and has more than 160 seats in the lower house, needs 272 votes to remove Khan.
    The National Assembly session is expected to be convened on 21 March and the voting is likely to be held on 28 March.
    Expand
  3. 3. ‘Ready for What I Will Do With You?’ PM Khan Threatens Rivals

    Khan has alleged that anyone who votes against him has sold themselves out.

    At a rally in Vehari district's Mailsi tehsil, Khan had blasted the ‘Gang of thieves’, identifying Nawaz Sharif as a geedar (jackal), his brother Shahbaz as a chaprasi (peon) and rather most nastily as a 'boot-polisher’. He also called former President Zardari ‘Mr Ten percent', referring to a widespread belief in the cut that gentleman allegedly demanded when his wife Benazir was in office.

    Khan has also expressed confidence that the army stands with him, and that it will “never support thieves”.

    He has further claimed that the rebel lawmakers were being offered Rs 180 million to vote against Khan in the no-confidence motion. Khan had said that he told the lawmakers to take the money and distribute it among the poor.

    He had said at the rally:

    "I came into politics 25 years ago to fight against them (political rivals). I will fight them until my last breath. I will face them and I am completely prepared for whatever they throw my way... But to the gang of thieves I say this: Are you ready for what I will do with you once your plans for a no-trust motion fail?"
    Expand
  4. 4. How Has Imran Khan Dealt With the Revolt?

    After the motion was filed, lawmakers have faced death threats, among police raids, and other warnings. Fearing that they might be abducted by the government, several rebel lawmakers have taken refuge in the Sindh House in Karachi, a property of the Sindh government and run by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

    On 10 March, police in the capital had stormed the parliamentarians’ apartments and detained two Opposition MPs. The police alleged that volunteers from the Opposition Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam F (JUI-F) had entered the apartments without permission. All were released within hours.

    Four days later, Federal Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan threatened to “blow up the Opposition in a suicide attack,” The News reported.

    Furthermore, Shahbaz Gill, a special assistant to the prime minister, has said that photographs of “traitors” – meaning any members of Khan’s PTI who votes against him – would be displayed in cities so people could identify them.

    After the legislators of the ruling party came out against PM Khan, Raja Riaz, one of the rebel lawmakers, told Geo News that Khan had failed to control inflation.

    Disputing the premier's claim that the Opposition had offered money to the rebels, Riaz told Geo News that the lawmakers were staying at the Sindh property of their own free will and were ready to move out of it if the prime minister assured them that they would be allowed to vote according to their conscience, news agency PTI reported.

    Another rebel lawmaker from PTI, Noor Alam Khan, told Samaa News that his multiple grievances were not addressed by the government. “We are part of more than two dozen members who are not happy with the government policies."

    Expand
  5. 5. What Are PM Imran Khan's Options?

    After Thursday's shocker, PM Khan consulted his party leaders and ministers and was urged by Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid to impose a governor's rule in Sindh and remove its government as it was allegedly involved in buying members of the National Assembly.

    Khan's government will also petition Pakistan's Supreme Court to seek a ruling on whether defectors from his party could lose their seats ahead of the no-confidence vote, Rashid said on Friday.

    This comes after Khan consulted his legal team on ways to disqualify the dissidents under the floor-crossing laws, but the law can be invoked only after a lawmaker votes against his own party by ignoring the clear directions of the party leader.

    A day before the voting is likely to take place, political drama is expected to unfold in Islamabad — where Khan has given a call for a rally with the objective of gathering one million workers.

    However, determined to throw Khan out of power, the Opposition parties have responded by asking their own workers to march towards Islamabad two days prior to Khan's rally, in order to occupy the D-Chowk in front of the Parliament.

    Expand
  6. 6. What Has Been the Pakistan Army’s Stance?

    While earlier Khan had said that he has support of the military, a Pakistan Army spokesman last week told the media that the military will remain neutral.

    To this, Khan had responded in a rally by saying that humans take sides and "only animals are neutral".

    The army did not respond to Khan's barb.

    However, with political turmoil in sight, Imran Khan on Friday morning, 18 March, met Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa in an attempt to get back in the good books of the Amry as without the support of Pakistan’s powerful military, Khan's future as prime minister becomes more disputable.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Why is There a No-confidence Motion Against PM Khan?

Pakistan's Opposition has claimed that Khan’s government is responsible for the economic crisis and the rising inflation in the country.

“We have taken this decision for the people of Pakistan and not for ourselves,” Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif had said after the motion, signed by about 100 lawmakers from the PML-N and PPP, was submitted with the National Assembly Secretariat.

Addressing the joint press conference, former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said that a lot of people, including leaders from the ruling party, were upset due to the poor performance of the government. “We have the support of more than 272 members and our move will succeed,” he added.

The request requiring Khan to seek a parliamentary vote of confidence came after the Opposition, led by the Pakistan People's Party, rallied thousands of supporters to demonstrate against Khan in Islamabad.

PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, had said in the rally, "Resign in 24 hours and face us in an election... Or be prepared for a no-confidence move."

Though Khan has responded to the economic crisis with cuts in fuel and electricity prices, the moves have failed to deter the Opposition from trying to throw Khan out.

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How Do the Numbers Stack Up in the Parliament for PM Khan & the Opposition?

The former cricketer is heading a coalition government, but without the coalition partners, Khan’s PTI, which has 155 seats in the 342-member National Assembly, would fall short of the 172 needed to retain power.

Apart from PTI's 155 members in the House, the party has the support of 23 members belonging to at least six political parties.

Meanwhile, the joint Opposition, which consists of PMLN and the PPP of former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, respectively, and has more than 160 seats in the lower house, needs 272 votes to remove Khan.
The National Assembly session is expected to be convened on 21 March and the voting is likely to be held on 28 March.

‘Ready for What I Will Do With You?’ PM Khan Threatens Rivals

Khan has alleged that anyone who votes against him has sold themselves out.

At a rally in Vehari district's Mailsi tehsil, Khan had blasted the ‘Gang of thieves’, identifying Nawaz Sharif as a geedar (jackal), his brother Shahbaz as a chaprasi (peon) and rather most nastily as a 'boot-polisher’. He also called former President Zardari ‘Mr Ten percent', referring to a widespread belief in the cut that gentleman allegedly demanded when his wife Benazir was in office.

Khan has also expressed confidence that the army stands with him, and that it will “never support thieves”.

He has further claimed that the rebel lawmakers were being offered Rs 180 million to vote against Khan in the no-confidence motion. Khan had said that he told the lawmakers to take the money and distribute it among the poor.

He had said at the rally:

"I came into politics 25 years ago to fight against them (political rivals). I will fight them until my last breath. I will face them and I am completely prepared for whatever they throw my way... But to the gang of thieves I say this: Are you ready for what I will do with you once your plans for a no-trust motion fail?"
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How Has Imran Khan Dealt With the Revolt?

After the motion was filed, lawmakers have faced death threats, among police raids, and other warnings. Fearing that they might be abducted by the government, several rebel lawmakers have taken refuge in the Sindh House in Karachi, a property of the Sindh government and run by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

On 10 March, police in the capital had stormed the parliamentarians’ apartments and detained two Opposition MPs. The police alleged that volunteers from the Opposition Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam F (JUI-F) had entered the apartments without permission. All were released within hours.

Four days later, Federal Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan threatened to “blow up the Opposition in a suicide attack,” The News reported.

Furthermore, Shahbaz Gill, a special assistant to the prime minister, has said that photographs of “traitors” – meaning any members of Khan’s PTI who votes against him – would be displayed in cities so people could identify them.

After the legislators of the ruling party came out against PM Khan, Raja Riaz, one of the rebel lawmakers, told Geo News that Khan had failed to control inflation.

Disputing the premier's claim that the Opposition had offered money to the rebels, Riaz told Geo News that the lawmakers were staying at the Sindh property of their own free will and were ready to move out of it if the prime minister assured them that they would be allowed to vote according to their conscience, news agency PTI reported.

Another rebel lawmaker from PTI, Noor Alam Khan, told Samaa News that his multiple grievances were not addressed by the government. “We are part of more than two dozen members who are not happy with the government policies."

What Are PM Imran Khan's Options?

After Thursday's shocker, PM Khan consulted his party leaders and ministers and was urged by Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid to impose a governor's rule in Sindh and remove its government as it was allegedly involved in buying members of the National Assembly.

Khan's government will also petition Pakistan's Supreme Court to seek a ruling on whether defectors from his party could lose their seats ahead of the no-confidence vote, Rashid said on Friday.

This comes after Khan consulted his legal team on ways to disqualify the dissidents under the floor-crossing laws, but the law can be invoked only after a lawmaker votes against his own party by ignoring the clear directions of the party leader.

A day before the voting is likely to take place, political drama is expected to unfold in Islamabad — where Khan has given a call for a rally with the objective of gathering one million workers.

However, determined to throw Khan out of power, the Opposition parties have responded by asking their own workers to march towards Islamabad two days prior to Khan's rally, in order to occupy the D-Chowk in front of the Parliament.

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What Has Been the Pakistan Army’s Stance?

While earlier Khan had said that he has support of the military, a Pakistan Army spokesman last week told the media that the military will remain neutral.

To this, Khan had responded in a rally by saying that humans take sides and "only animals are neutral".

The army did not respond to Khan's barb.

However, with political turmoil in sight, Imran Khan on Friday morning, 18 March, met Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa in an attempt to get back in the good books of the Amry as without the support of Pakistan’s powerful military, Khan's future as prime minister becomes more disputable.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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