LAHORE (Web Desk): PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Sunday said a probe must take place into the “controversy” surrounding the vote of confidence held in the National Assembly a day earlier, which Opposition members boycotted, but have claimed that there “weren’t enough people present” for the 178 votes obtained.
Speaking to the media following a meeting with Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz, Bilawal claimed: “Imran Khan was neither voluntarily voted as the prime minister by the Members of the Assembly, nor was he voluntarily voted for in this vote of confidence.”
He termed the move to seek a trust vote “a joke”.
“He ran a race alone and declared himself the winner,” the PPP chairman said, adding: “But even this was rigged.”
“This allegation raised by a member of the opposition present in the Assembly, that the number of votes announced do not match the number of people in attendance, must be investigated,” said Bilawal.
Bilawal, in his briefing, also heaped scorn on the Punjab government, criticising it for incarcerating the leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly.
“Lahore’s progress used to be a shining example for the rest of the country, but now it is an example of a wholly other kind,” the PPP chairman said.
“Do you not wish for us all to be rid of the Wasim Akram Plus government?” he asked.
The PPP chairman said that the PML-N has the “greatest strength” in numbers in Punjab. He said now it is the opposition’s turn to decide when and where a no-confidence vote will take place.
“We stand together and will InshaAllah remain united. We will strike together and win as well,” he said, adding: “Had we not learnt from the past, we would not be here together.”
Bilawal said the opposition wishes to use the “power of democracy” to compete with the government. “The power of the people and the parliament are our weapons,” he said.
Speaking of the upcoming Senate chairman and deputy chairman elections, he said: “We will establish contact with every senator. The Chaudhrys have been our allies during Yousuf Raza Gilani’s premiership.”
“I will go visit them myself and ask for their support,” Bilawal said.
Hamza Shahbaz, meanwhile, said that the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s aim is not only restricted to a “long march” or a no-confidence motion.
“The drastic fall from progress that Pakistan has witnessed in the past three years must be reversed,” he stressed.
Hamza said that in the eight by-elections held across the country, the country had “buried the old slogan of ‘change'”.
He vowed that the opposition alliance will “move forward” and will make “important decisions” from the PDM platform.
The Punjab opposition leader said that he was congratulated by the PPP chairman on his release from jail and the two had spoken on a “range of issues”.
“We have learnt much from the Charter of Democracy,” he added.
Sources had earlier told Bilawal will meet Hamza to discuss former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s bid for the post of Senate chairman and the possibility for an in-house change in Punjab.
The PPP leader met the PML-N leader at his Model Town residence in Lahore in the first meeting between the two leaders since Hamza’s release from jail.
Hamza had been released from jail last month following the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision to grant him bail in the money laundering investigation against the PML-N leader.
A two-member bench of the LHC comprising Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar and Justice Asjad Javed Ghural had heard the bail plea of Hamza in the money laundering case.
The bench had ordered the release of the PML-N leader from the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore.
After hearing the arguments of both parties, the court had granted bail to Hamza and ordered him to submit two surety bonds of Rs10 million each. On June 11, 2019, NAB had arrested Hamza after the LHC rejected his interim bail in the Ramzan Sugar Mills and money laundering cases.