Pakistan trust vote: Will Imran Khan lose his wicket? – Times of India

NEW DELHI: He has breached the solid defence of many a seasoned batsman with his famed in-swingers. But can Imran Khan survive the no-confidence bouncer that the opposition is throwing at him? Or will he go down in history as the first Pakistani Prime Minister to be removed through a vote of no-confidence?
The wafer-thin majority on which his government has survived will not make him comfortable.

Now, the odds seem stacked heavily against him.
Imran is up against the combined might of Pakistan’s main opposition parties- PPP and PML(N). To make matters worse, a series of desertions by allies and defections from his Tehreek-e-Insaaf party have further dented his chances of survival when the no-confidence motion is taken up in Pakistan parliament.
24 lawmakers of Imran’s PTI party have openly vowed to vote against his government.
On Wednesday, as many as three PTI allies- MQM-P, PML-Q and BAP broke ranks to join the opposition.

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Opposition parties march to galvanize support
The momentum has been with the opposition during the build-up to the no-confidence motion.
The combined front, christened PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) has been targeting the government over a host of ‘anti-people’ policies like hike in oil and power tariffs, high inflation and corruption.
It has hit the streets with ‘long marches’ that drew huge crowds, indicative of Imran’s waning popularity.
Marchers from various parts of the country are to converge in Islamabad later this week.
Will the Pakistan army stay neutral?
No government in Pakistan has survived without the blessings of the country’s most powerful institution- the army. Of late, Imran has had a few run-ins with the men in uniform.
According to opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, Khan had deliberately delayed the extension of army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure in 2019 – to taint the process in “controversy.” However he did not provide any eveidence to back his claim.
Late last year, Imran delayed formalising the appointment of the new ISI chief- something that reportedly triggered talks about a shuffle in the top echelons of the government, aided by Rawalpindi.
The army however has tried to steer clear of the current controversy, harping a rhetoric of non-interference in matters of governance and democratic processes.
But given its deep clout, any ‘behind the scenes’ machinations could well tilt the scales in the trust vote.
Imran’s overture to the army?
During a recent speech, Imran Khan appeared to be sending a message across to the Pakistan army to shed their ‘neutral’ position vis-à-vis Pakistan politics, and rally behind the incumbent government.
“Allah did not allow us to be neutral as ‘only animals are neutral,’ he said at a publc gathering.
Imran’s desperation has to be seen in light of some media reports that suggested the army might not be taking a neutral stand after all.
Some reports even said that the army top brass has asked Imran Khan to step down after the OIC conference in Islamabad.
Imran’s dwindling political fortunes
More signs of the ground slipping from under Imran’s feet came when his PTI performed poorly in local body elections in its stronghold of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in December 2021.
Imran has also ruffled feathers with his allies with his choice of chief minister for the Punjab province. Usman Buzdar is largely seen as his proxy, installed with the aim to remote control the province from Islamabad.
For now, the opposition trio of Maryam Nawaz, Fazl-ur-Rehman and Bilawal Bhutto have their tails up. After a groundswell of support seen during their long march towards Islamabad, they think they are within an earshot of bringing down the Khan government.
Imran however is trying to put up a brave face before the all important parliament session on Friday.
“I will not resign under any circumstance. I will play till the last ball and I will surprise them a day before as they are still under pressure,” said Khan, without revealing further details.
“I will take three wickets in one ball,” he said in another dig at the opposition trio.

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