Sheikh Rashid backtracks on ‘blackmailing’ remark, says it was not directed towards PML-Q

Web Desk – March 13, 2022

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Sunday backtracked from his accusation made against the PML-Q a day earlier, saying that his remarks were “general” and not directed towards any particular party.

Rashid, in a press conference on Saturday, had accused the PML-Q of “blackmailing” the government for Punjab’s chief minister position in return for support during the opposition’s no-trust move against Prime Minister Imran Khan. In response, the PML-Q’s Moonis Elahi had hit back and counter alleged that Rashid used to “take money from the party’s elders during his student life”.

The interior minister, while speaking at an event organised by the Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries in the capital today, revisited the topic and denied taking a dig at the PML-Q in particular and acknowledge that the party had done him favours back in the day.

“I neither named the Q league nor the Chaudhrys … I only said it in general,” Rashid said. “The problem is that when I say something … even of it goes against me, it [gets airtime] the full 24 hours.

“[Chaudhry] Shujaat is my brother. God bless him with health … I will never speak against him.”

Rashid did, however, say that the true test of a friend comes during trying times.

NA Speaker to call session for no-trust move after Mar 15

Meanwhile, Rashid said that NA Speaker Asad Qaiser would call a session of the lower house on the joint opposition’s no-confidence resolution against the premier after March 15.

The opposition submitted the resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday and also requisitioned a session of the NA. After the lower house is in session, the rules of procedure dictate that the secretary will circulate a notice for a no-confidence resolution, which will be moved on the next working day.

From the day the resolution is moved, it “shall not be voted upon before the expiry of three days, or later than seven days,” according to the rules of procedure. Therefore, the speaker must call the lower house in session by March 22, while voting on the no-confidence motion must take place between three and seven days after the session is summoned.

“The speaker has to decide when to call the session. He will decide after the 15th [since] there is the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) conference on the 21st and 22nd [of March],” Rashid said.

Responding to a question, he elaborated that it was the speaker’s job and power to call an NA session and his decision couldn’t be challenged in any court. “Whatever decision the speaker takes will be a legal and constitutional one,” Rashid added.

The interior minister said the opposition had the complete right to make a no-trust move, however, he cautioned that the country should not be forced towards “anarchy”.

Separately, the interior minister warned again against any militia marching into Islamabad and said anyone attempting to do so would be “trampled”. His remarks were in the context of the recent operation carried out against JUI-F’s Ansaral Islam force in the Parliament Lodges.

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