Former President Asif Ali Zardari said on Thursday that not only does he have enough numbers to save Punjab Assembly but he can also pull some tricks in the KP assembly as well.
He was speaking in an exclusive interview with Asma Shirazi, in Aaj News program Faisla Aap Ka.
Answering a question about whether it was possible to bring a no-confidence vote in Punjab, Zardari said, “We will bring a no-confidence motion in KP as well.”
When Asma Shirazi prodded him further, citing the fact that PDM simply doesn’t have enough seats in KP to pull this off. He said, “Some friends have strayed to the wrong path, we have to bring them back.”
The former president also said early elections were not favorable for either the country or democracy.
When asked what would happen if PTI succeeded in dissolving assemblies, he said, “Then we’ll have reelections for those assemblies, we’ll see how many MPAs he (Imran Khan) gets back into the assembly.”
On the question of reconciliation with Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, he said that there were many better choices in Punjab.
“It was necessary to stop what Imran Khan was going to do and we stopped him, if he had done what he was trying to do, the nation would have been in trouble,” Zardari said when asked about why the opposition parties ousted the PTI chief from power when they knew that the PTI-led government was about to collapse.
Narrating several initiatives including the Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment during his presidency, Zardari said that transferring the powers of the president to the prime minister was PPP’s vision. “The Eighteenth Amendment was suggested to me by someone.”
He said that it was a matter of keeping the entire nation united.
Referring to the appointment of newly elected Army Chief General Asim Munir, the former president said, “I don’t know the man who has become the chief now. I only knew General Aamir who was my military secretary and he was sixth on the list.”
He said that the decision of the army chief’s appointment was taken by the institution.
Responding to a question whether recently retired army chief General (rtd) Qamar Javed Bajwa asked him for an extension in his term, Zardari said that Bajwa had never discussed the extension with him.
“He must have asked the prime minister, he [PM Shehbaz] is a big man, we are poor people. Why will anyone ask from us? “
On the question of lobbying for General Amir, he said, he won’t tell a lie and that if General Amir would be at least at the second position on the list then he would have done something to appoint General Amir as a new army chief. “But I could not because the situation was not like that.”
He further said that the army chief was appointed on merit.
“I gave the prime minister complete authority. I told him that he [prime minister] should use his constitutional right.”
Can no-confidence motions win at all?
Saleem Sheikh, Aaj TV’s Lahore bureau chief, said that even though PML-N is doing all it can to thwart the PTI, it simply doesn’t have the numbers to do so.
“PML-N will have trouble securing the 186 people required for the no-confidence motion,” he said. However, the party could purusue the alternate of asking the CM to take a vote of confidence himself, in which case Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi would have to secure the required numbers. In such a situation, the PML-N could find a creative solution, including getting six or more dissident PTI MPAs to be a no show on the day of the vote.
Saleem Sheikh also said that the Elahis are meeting Imran Khan today to discuss future strategy. The chief minister is expected to advise Imran Khan to wait and see before making a move.
Aaj’s Peshawar Bureau Chief Farzana Ali said that while there was no major activity yet, there are enough tremors to indicate that Zardari’s claims might have some essence.
Some dissident MPs have already identified themselves, including Engineer Fahim and Liaquat Khattak. Many people in South KP are also said to be disillusiioned with Ali Amin Gandapur.
PDM needs atleast 28 more seats in the KP assembly to be able to table a no-confidence vote. But although there is confusion in the PTI’s KP chapter, said Farzana Ali, nothing has emerged on the surface yet as dissidents are waiting to see which direction the wind blows.