A flurry of developments took place in Pakistan on Saturday evening even as all eyes remained on the National Assembly whose session was convened to hold the opposition’s no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan as ordered by the country’s Supreme Court.
By around 11.45 PM IST, when this report was published, the Pakistan Parliament House was sealed and a “Red Zone” was declared by the police. Prison vans and extra security was deployed in the area.
Pakistan Army’s 111 Infantry Brigade, also known as ‘coup brigade’, due to its fast response in military coup d’etats, was deployed at Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence even as he left for the National Assembly after holding an emergency Cabinet meeting where he reportedly asked for more legal and other options from his ministers.
As per media reports, the Imran Khan govt was exploring ways to submit the purported ‘foreign conspiracy’ letter to the CJP.
As per a Reuters report, the Pakistan Army’s chief met Imran Khan amid the impasse in the National Assembly.
In a dramatic development, media reports said that the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) had ordered the staff to open court at midnight if the no-confidence motion was not held in the National Assembly. The five judges who were part of the Bench which on Thursday ruled in favour of the opposition’s plea to hold a no-trust vote were said to be en route to the court.
Meanwhile, members of Khan’s party PTI held protests at several places against the alleged ‘conspiracy’ to oust him.
The National Assembly’s session began at 10.30 AM (local time) in the morning in line with a landmark Supreme Court order, with Speaker Asad Qaiser chairing it.
It was adjourned till the evening after stormy scenes. In the evening, the session was again adjourned on account of iftar and Maghrib prayers break.
Earlier in the day, speaking on the floor of the House, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi contended that the US national security adviser had telephoned his Pakistani counterpart and “categorically asked us not to proceed with the Russia tour” of Prime Minister Imran Khan in February.
In a lengthy address to the National Assembly, Qureshi talked major foreign policy issues, especially the alleged regime change being plotted by the US in Pakistan. “Today Pakistan is standing at a historic juncture and the people need to decide whether they want to live in an independent state or become slaves [to the West],” the 65-year-old politician said, while acknowledging that Saturday might be his last day as the foreign minister of Pakistan.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asked the embattled Prime Minister to “show some sportsman spirit,” before leaving office. Imran Khan is the “first captain who is running from the pitch with wickets because he fears that he will lose the match,” he said in Parliament.
The PPP Chairman trained his guns on Khan, who was conspicuous by his absence in the National Assembly when the session began. “Imran Khan is not present in the Parliament because he cannot defend himself. Conspiracies against the constitution will not succeed,” he said, while adding that before Khan leaves his office, he should “show some sportsman spirit.”
Bilawal told the Speaker Asad Qaiser that he was violating the Constitution and the court’s order.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government led by Imran Khan also filed a review petition earlier today against the Supreme Court verdict on the Deputy Speaker’s ruling over the no-trust motion in the National Assembly, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.