islamabad: All eyes on Pakistan army as opposition gears up for no-trust move against Imran

islamabad: All eyes on Pakistan army as opposition gears up for no-trust move against Imran


ISLAMABAD: As political temperatures rise in Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan will face the heat of a no-confidence motion next week, as opposition parties announced in the National Assembly on 11 February. A no-confidence motion in the 342-member National Assembly must have 172 votes to ensure Khan’s removal. Although no date has yet been set for the vote, opponents claim they have more votes than they need.
Several opposition parties have announced a long march to Islamabad in March to sort out legislators for the polls. Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will march from Karachi to Islamabad on February 26. Nine opposition parties, including the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Maulana Fazlur Rahman. The right-wing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (FUI-F), led by the party, has announced its march to Islamabad from March 23.
Opposition parties have stated they will not run in the by-elections, but will seek to establish a “military” presence in Islamabad. Opponents of the removal have long complained that the 2018 election was rigged by the Establishment and that Khan’s government could not survive a single day without military support.
Official sources rejected the opposition’s claim that the organization was “annoyed by Khan’s incompetent rule”, saying there was no dispute between Khan and the men in uniform. In the counterattack, the military and the government refrained from speaking publicly on the thorny issue, which could determine Khan’s departure.
One such issue is the retirement of the current Army Chief General Kamar Javed Bajwa. His term, which Khan extended for three years in 2019, will end in November. Opposition groups called for the beleagured PM to resign.
According to Islamabad’s political grape, Khan Bajwa could be replaced by Lieutenant General Fayez Hamid, the former ISI chief, who is currently serving as corps commander in Peshawar. As head of the ISI, Hamid was Islamabad’s “emergency” ambassador to Kabul shortly after the fall of the Afghan capital to the Taliban last August.
Bajwa transferred Hamid from ISI in October, just months after his visit to Kabul. Khan’s insistence on retaining him as ISI chief clearly contributed to the strained relations between the PM and the Establishment. Hamid’s transfer was part of a reshuffle in the army.
Opponents’ distrust of Hamid also stems from concerns that he was behind a protest against the previous government by a right-wing party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik, which opposes blasphemy in Pakistan.
With Hamid as army chief, opponents fear harsh government retaliation for creating an unequal playing field in the 2023 election. There are fears that if Khan survives the no-confidence motion, he will probably announce the next army chief before the end of April.
To make the no-confidence motion a success, the opposition is relying on the support of the Pakistan Muslim League-Qaeda, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Khan’s own party, a disgruntled group of lawmakers led by Jahangir Tarin, the leader of Pakistan’s separatist party. – Tehreek-e-Insaf. In Pakistan’s parliamentary history, the only lower house no-confidence motion against the assassinated leader Benazir Bhutto in 1989 failed.

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