Pakistan to probe ‘foreign conspiracy’ behind toppling Imran Khan govt

The Pakistani government has set up a commission led by a retired Army officer to investigate the alleged foreign conspiracy behind the no-confidence motion against embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan, a senior minister said on Friday.

The decision to constitute the commission was taken in the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Khan, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said.

He said the government will present the contents of the threat letter, which purportedly contains “evidence” of a foreign conspiracy hatched to oust Prime Minister Khan in the National Assembly on Saturday.

Chaudhry said the commission will be headed by Lieutenant General (retd) Tariq Khan.

The commission will investigate where the conspiracy was hatched and who were the local handlers of the conspiracy to topple the government, he said.

“We have evidence of eight dissident provincial lawmakers being in contact with foreign dignitaries. The commission will look at a connection between local handlers and regime change,” he said.

The retired Army officer, however, has refused to head the government commission that was formed to probe the “threat letter” allegedly sent from the United States, Geo News reported, citing sources within the officer’s family.

The sources said that the Lt Gen (retd) Khan has conveyed his decision to the government, the report said.

The reason for his refusal to head the probe was not given.

But Dunya News reported that his refusal was due to personal reasons.

Whatever the motivation for declining the nomination, it is a big setback for the embattled prime minister who is fighting to save his rule.

The decision to form a commission was taken a day after the Supreme Court struck down National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s controversial move to dismiss a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Khan, citing a national security threat, in a major blow to the cricketer- turned-politician who is now likely to face a no-trust vote on Saturday in Parliament after the ruling.

In a landmark 5-0 verdict, a five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial ruled that the deputy speaker’s ruling was “contrary to the Constitution and the law and of no legal effect, and the same are hereby set aside”.

It is believed that the move to form the commission could be another attempt by the government to subvert the no-confidence motion on Saturday to determine the fate of Prime Minister Khan as directed by the apex court.

Chaudhry also criticized the court’s verdict, saying that the top court should have seen the material which convinced the deputy speaker to reject the no-confidence motion.

The decision is against the spirit of division of powers among various institutions and it has weakened the supremacy of parliament, he said.

The National Assembly’s session for voting on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan will take place at 10:30 am on Saturday in line with the Supreme Court’s order, Geo News reported.

In the National Assembly’s (NA) agenda issued Friday, voting on the no-confidence motion is at the fourth position in the six-point agenda.

The opposition parties need 172 members in the 342-member house to orchestrate the downfall of Prime Minister Khan and already they showed the support of more than the needed strength.

Now Khan faces the possibility of being the first prime minister in Pakistan’s history to be voted out in a no-confidence motion.

Khan came to power in 2018 with promises to create a Naya Pakistan ‘but miserably failed to address the basic problem of keeping the prices of commodities in control. The current term of the National Assembly was to end in August 2023.

No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office.

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