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Abstain from voting on no-confidence motion: Pakistan PM Imran Khan warns his party lawmakers

The warning came a day after Pakistan’s opposition tabled the no-trust motion in the National Assembly against Imran Khan, who is facing his toughest political test since assuming office in 2018


Islamabad: Pakistan’s embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday strictly directed his party lawmakers to either abstain or not attend the National Assembly session on the day of voting on the no-confidence motion against him, which is likely to be held in the first week of April.

The instructions came a day after Pakistan’s opposition on Monday tabled the no-trust motion in the National Assembly against Khan, who is facing his toughest political test since assuming office in 2018 as defections in his party and cracks in the ruling coalition appeared to have made his position fragile.

In a letter to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers, Prime Minister Khan, who is the party’s chairman, said: “All the members of the (PTI) in the National Assembly shall abstain from voting/not attend the meeting of the National Assembly on the date when the said resolution is set out on the agenda,” Geo News reported.

All members are “required to adhere to his directions in true letter and spirit” and should keep in mind the “intention behind the provision of Article 63(A) of the Constitution of Pakistan,” he said.

Khan also warned the party lawmakers that “every or any” violation of the directions would be treated as an “express defection” in terms of Article 63(A).

No prime minister in Pakistan’s history has ever been ousted through a no-confidence motion, and Khan is the third premier to face the challenge.

The lower house will convene on Thursday to debate the motion.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid has said that the voting on the no-confidence motion will be held on April 3.

“There will be a debate on the no-confidence motion on March 31, followed by voting on April 3,” he said, adding that Khan would emerge victorious.

Prime Minister Khan needs 172 votes in the house of 342 to foil the bid to topple his government. Since Khan’s allies are still not committed to support him and about two dozen lawmakers from within the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf have revolted, the situation was still fluid.

In a massive show of strength, Khan on Sunday addressed a mammoth rally in the national capital where he claimed that foreign powers were involved in a conspiracy to topple his coalition government.

He pulled a document from his pocket to exhibit it for the charged crowd, saying it was the letter sent to threaten him.

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