Islamabad: Pakistan’s National Assembly will convene on Friday to take up a no-trust motion against embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan, who on Sunday offered an olive branch to some 24 dissident lawmakers of his party, saying he was ready to forgive them like a “compassionate father” if they returned to the party.

Around 100 lawmakers from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) submitted the no-confidence motion before the National Assembly Secretariat on March 8, alleging that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government led by Khan was responsible for the economic crisis and the spiralling inflation in the country.

On Sunday, the National Assembly Secretariat issued a notification, paving the way for holding the key session which the Opposition had demanded to be convened by March 21 as per the legal requirements.

“The session will convene at 11 am on Friday and will be the 41st session of the current National Assembly, according to the notification issued by Speaker Asad Qaiser.

The Opposition has been demanding that the session should be summoned within 14 days but Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said at a press conference it can be delayed due to extraordinary circumstances.

The delay in this case is due to the 48th Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers on March 22 and 23 at the Parliament House.

Initially, the Opposition had threatened to stage a sit-in if the session was not called on time. However, they toned down its stance by stressing that Pakistan’s political turmoil will not be allowed to affect the high-profile event in any way.

The lower house will deliberate on the Opposition’s no-confidence resolution against Prime Minister Khan on March 25. Once the motion is formally taken up by the house, the voting should be held between three to seven days.

Khan, 69, is heading a coalition government and he can be removed if some of the partners decide to switch sides.

In the 342-member National Assembly, the Opposition needs 172 votes to remove Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician.

The PTI has 155 members in the House and needs at least 172 lawmakers on its side to remain in the government. The party has the support of 23 members belonging to at least six political parties.

Nearly two dozen dissident lawmakers of the ruling party recently came out in the open ahead of voting on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Khan, with the government accusing Opposition parties of horse-trading.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan on Sunday offered an olive branch to rebel lawmakers of his party saying he was ready to forgive them like a “compassionate father” if they returned to the party fold.

“I will forgive you if you come back. We all commit mistakes. I am like a father who forgives his children and I will pardon you as well and no action will be taken against you, he said while addressing a public rally in Malakand district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

At the same time, he warned that those not heeding to his words should be ready to face a social boycott’.

“Return to the party’s fold or face social boycott, he warned the rebel PTI lawmakers.

Before offering the olive branch, Khan accused them of selling their conscience and told the rebel lawmakers that they will be forever known as people who “sold their conscience and it will be difficult for them to attend social events like marriages.

“Even it will be difficult for them to arrange marriages of their kids, he said.

He also blasted the Opposition that has filed a no-trust motion against him, warning them that “you are going to lose this match badly.”

In another development, supporters of rival parties were protesting against or in favour of various PTI lawmakers who announced to go against Khan.

The Dawn newspaper reported that the PTI supporters gathered outside the house of rebel lawmaker Malik Ahmed Hassan Dehar in Multan to protest against him, while workers of the opposition Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) staged a rally outside the residence of another PTI dissident Noor Alam Khan in Peshawar to give moral support to him and his family.

Similar rallies were also held at other places like Lahore after Khan defended the peaceful right of his party activists against the turncoats’.

On Saturday, the ruling party issued show-cause notices to its dissident lawmakers for alleged defection and sought an explanation from them by March 26 as to why they may not be declared defectors and disqualified as a member of the National Assembly.

Both government and opposition politicians have been working overtime to tilt the balance in their favour. The PPP held the meeting of its core committee, followed by the meeting of its leaders with PML-N and JUI-F leaders at a lunch hosted by PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif.

Khan also consulted his core group about the latest situation. He has told his supporters that the no-trust move against him would fail.

Khan had won a trust vote on March 6, 2021 after he sought one after his party suffered an embarrassing defeat in the hotly-contested Senate elections.

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