Federal Planning Minister Asad Umar has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will not hesitate in curtailing his own term as the prime minister if he thinks he is being blackmailed or hurdles are created in the work that he is trying to accomplish.
The federal minister made these remarks during an Aaj TV show.
Umar also shared an anecdote about Imran’s dealings with a forward bloc of lawmakers that was formed during the 2008-13 tenure of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to Umar, a group of disgruntled lawmakers had emerged in the PTI and everyone was reporting that it would be the end of the provincial government. Amid these reports, Imran Khan had asked these lawmakers to come to Banigala for a meeting, Umar said, adding that the PTI chairman had also messaged him to participate in the meeting.
As per Umar, Imran had listened to their grievances during the meeting and noted everything down in a notebook. However, he had warned them at the end that he would dissolve the KP Assembly right away but wouldn’t be blackmailed into doing anything at any cost, the federal minister quoted the PM as saying.
“If anyone still thinks they can blackmail Imran Khan, they should take a lesson from this story,” Asad Umar said in a thinly-veiled warning to the disgruntled lawmakers who are seeking justice for estranged PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen.
At this, the host asked Asad Umar if he was trying to say that the PM will dissolve assemblies in case of a similar episode? The minister responded that Imran is not fond of staying in power, adding that he didn’t come to power for the sake of power. “Will he dissolve assemblies,” the host asked again.
“That’s for him to decide… what action he will take,” Asad Umar added. “I have no doubt he can dissolve parliament…curtail his time as the prime minister out of his freewill if he thinks he is being stopped from achieving what he had planned to do.”
Umar further said that the prime minister can quit his office and go back to people and ask for a fresh mandate, saying that he isn’t allowed to work independently.
At the end of the clip, the planning minister also talked about potential “hurdles”. He said that PM Imran can curtail and his term and go back to people to seeks a “fresh mandate” if “hurdles” are created in his work. But who will create a hurdle in the prime minister’s work? The PM’s aide hasn’t said so. But it seems the skipper and the powers-that-be are not on the same page anymore.
There are already reports of disagreement between the establishment and the premier over the performance of the Punjab chief minister, Usman Buzdar. Imran wants Buzdar to stay, but other stakeholders want him gone over poor performance. Similarly, Imran has refused to allow Maryam Nawaz to go abroad. The establishment, on the other hand, is in favour of allowing the PML-N leader to join her father in London.
The remarks made by the close aide of Imran Khan have set off a debate in social media, especially the target of these statements. The ‘Khan won’t be blackmailed’ rhetoric, especially at a time when the pro-Tareen group is making efforts to get their leader off the hook, is a message to the so-called forward bloc in PTI.
In April this year, Tareen had said that he had the support of at least 40 lawmakers, as he requested the prime minister for justice in his case. According to Tareen, the government is in power because of the votes of these lawmakers so they deserve a meeting with the premier at least.
It seems the KP Assembly anecdote was directed at the Tareen group that has been pressuring the premier to close cases against Tareen. So the message to the Tareen camp is Imran would rather dissolve assemblies than giving in to their demands.