The PML-N will not become part of any “undemocratic act” to remove Prime Minister Imran Khan from office, PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said Monday.
“This is our firm decision. We will not be used to remove anyone,” Abbasi told SAMAA TV in an interview. The senior vice president of the PML-N, however, clarified that his party does want to oust PM Khan’s government but by using constitutional options.
“We will force the government to take the vote of confidence,” Abbasi explained his party’s strategy. He said that the government will itself learn that the time has come for them to go home when they will see their coalition partners parting ways.
The PML-N, the largest opposition party in the National Assembly, has a murky past. The PML-N and the PPP, the second largest opposition party, have been used against each other by the country’s establishment previously to disrupt the democratic system.
The PML-N was once considered a pro-establishment party but it changed its path after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was removed from office following a verdict of the Supreme Court in the Panama Leaks case in 2017. Nawaz was jailed in another corruption case, but later allowed to leave Pakistan to receive medical treatment in London.
The party blamed the country’s establishment for the party’s downfall and its election loss. Abbasi, the PML-N leader, said that what happened in the 2018 elections proved that his party wasn’t liked by the establishment.
“The establishment does exist in Pakistan as it exists all over the world,” the PML-N leader said. “They have their own stance and if there is no similarity between your stance and theirs then problems arise.”
“If you want to say that there is an establishment, it is certainly here. Does it interfere in the affairs? It certainly does,” Abbasi said.
However, he clarified that the PML-N doesn’t want a fight with the establishment but warned that it doesn’t want to be used by anyone.
The statements of the PML-N leaders before and after the 2018 elections had revealed that there was a trust deficit between the party and the establishment. Weeks before the elections, Nawaz even accused a powerful army official of attempting to change loyalties of his party candidates.
But when the country’s apex court blocked PM Khan’s move to grant a three-year extension to Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the PML-N and other opposition parties sided with the government and helped it pass a bill that paved the way for the extension in the general’s tenure.
Abbasi, the PML-N leader, was in jail when the voting on the bill took place. He said he would have voted in favour of the bill if he wasn’t in jail.
“In the parliamentary system, your vote is not yours but the party’s,” said Abbasi. “If the party has taken a decision then that is my decision too whether I like it or not it’s a separate thing.”
But there were other lawmakers in the opposition parties that choose to defy the decision of their parties and didn’t vote in favour of the bill. Senator Pervaiz Rasheed of the PML-N was one of them.
Abbasi said that Rasheed didn’t have any right to go against the party’s decision. “I am ready to say it on his face that he doesn’t have the right to do so.”
“If he didn’t want to vote then he should have resigned,” the PML-N leader said.
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