Pakistan’s leading Opposition leaders on Saturday demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation and fresh elections, soon after he won a vote of confidence in the National Assembly.
Khan secured 178 votes in the 342-member lower house of Parliament during a special session convened on the directives of President Arif Alvi.
The floor test took place without the Opposition as the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – an alliance of 11 parties – boycotted the voting.
The first to respond was chief of the PDM Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who told the media in Sukkur, Sindh that the vote of confidence has no meaning.
“This was not a confidence vote. We know which agencies watched the members of the assembly the entire night. [We know] who knocked on the doors of each member to ensure they were present,” he
His reference was towards reports stating that the government kept its members inside lodges in Islamabad under strict watch so that all of them are present in Parliament during the floor test.
Rehman alleged that the lawmakers were forced to vote for Prime Minister Khan.
He challenged the prime minister to “be courageous and ask the public to cast a vote of confidence [by] conducting a new election”.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz said after a meeting of the PDM that Khan’s days were numbered.
She said it was “now just a matter of time when he will go”.
She also lambasted the manhandling of PML-N leaders including its spokesperson Maryyium Aurangzeb, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal by the “hooligans” of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
“My head is held high with pride, how you confronted a few dozen rented goons and forced them to run,” Maryam said, adding that she was sad the way Aurangzeb was “attacked”.
Pakistan Peoples Party leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his address after the PDM meeting said Khan had been exposed after the defeat in the senate seat and vote of confidence was meaningless.
“We have already won and time for change has come,” he said.
The reaction shows the political rivalry between Khan and the Opposition leaders is not going to end after Khan’s success in Parliament.