In what appears to be a tit-for-tat move, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said Saturday that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will have to take a trust vote.
The comment comes after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) threatened to leave the coalition government in the centre — whose votes are crucial to keep the incumbent prime minister in office.
MQM-P had threatened to quit the federal government if their reservations regarding delimitations in Karachi and Hyderabad were not addressed ahead of the local government polls — scheduled for January 15.
However, in a bid to keep them in the alliance, PM Shehbaz, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had assured the MQM-P of addressing their concerns.
Against the backdrop of the recent political developments in the country, Khan, during an interview on a private television channel, said: “PTI has passed the test. Now, Shehbaz Sharif will be fully tested.”
Referring to the recent vote of confidence taken by Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi, Khan said: “Our numbers had been completed. Moonis Elahi worked hard at the last moment to achieve the required numbers of the PML-Q.”
The cricketer-turned-politician while denying allegations of horse trading said that the PDM was still stuck to the "politics of Changa Manga".
“The country has changed and they don't realise it,” the PTI chairman said, adding that for the first time in the country’s history, Punjab stood against the establishment during the by-elections in July 2022. "The by-polls changed the country’s politics."
The former premier said that he realised the opposition being shocked at CM Elahi’s success at getting the required number of votes after seeing their photos while seated in the assembly.
"They thought the establishment was behind them and they will win," the PTI chief said, taking a jibe at the opposition.
Lauding CM Elahi’s support for his decisions in Punjab’s political matters, Khan said: “The way Elahi is standing with us, there was immense appreciation in the party. He was the chief minister and made a real sacrifice. We are recommending he merges the party.”
He insisted that a merger with the PTI will be in PML-Q’s interest. “Now only PTI’s ticket will work in the election. Whoever leaves politics at this time, will end their politics,” he said.
Shedding light on the challenges he faced during his tenure as the prime minister, Khan said that the three and a half years were "tormenting" for him.
The PTI chairman criticised the federal government for its spending on visits abroad. “They are going to ask for money and are staying at the most expensive hotels. They don’t care about Pakistan’s money being spent,” he said, adding that the country needs a strong government to take decisions.
Reiterating his fears of political engineering, the PTI chief said: “I am currently seeing political engineering in the country. They are gathering MQM-P and sending Balochistan Awami Party to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).”
Khan revealed that there are plans to give seats to PPP in South Punjab and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while in Punjab people are being asked to join the PML-N.
“They have not learnt anything from the past. Political engineering has ruined the country,” he lamented.