ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party will support any in-house change to remove Prime Minister Imran Khan if it is initiated by the political parties, sources in PPP said.

A close aide of the Bhutto family told The Nation that in-house change was a constitutional way to remove the prime minister and the PPP leadership was ready to support such a move.

“We will, however, see if the move has been initiated by the political parties or by the undemocratic forces. If it’s a political move, we will back it,” he said.

The PPP leader said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Asif Ali Zardari were against supporting any unconstitutional way to topple the government.

“Our top leadership believes Imran Khan has failed but we still don’t want to change him by becoming part of any unconstitutional plot. There are constitutional options available,” he said, citing meetings with the top leaders.

Bilawal and Zardari, he said, fear that amid tension PM Imran Khan might dissolve the assembly - making way for a fresh election. “This could be a shocker but it will be entirely constitutional. If he sees no way out, he can dissolve the assembly and try his luck again,” the PPP leader said.

He said when the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf formed the government in 2018, the PPP was the only one to support their right to prove majority as they were the single largest party.

“At that point even they didn’t have a majority. Maulana Fazlur Rehman wanted our support to form a coalition government and he had pledged to convince smaller parties to join as partners. We (the PPP) thought the PTI had the first right,” he recalled.

Over the weekend, Bilawal had predicted that the country will have a new Prime Minister next year. “Pakistan will have a new prime minister by next year. The PPP will form a people’s government,” he had predicted.

The ruling PTI only has a simple majority in the National Assembly with the help of smaller parties and its own 156. If only a couple of smaller partners part ways, the PTI will lose the majority in the House.

The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has 84 members, the PPP 55, Independents 4, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal 16, the PML (Quaid-e-Azam) 5, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan 7, the Grand Democratic Alliance 3, the Awami Muslim League 1, the Awami National Party 1, the Balochistan National Party 4 and the Balochistan Awami Party 5.

The PML-N, the PPP and the MMA together have 155 members and for a simple majority they will need the support of at least 17 others to touch the magic figure of 172 in the 342-member house.

There were reports that PML-Q had started developing differences with the PTI and were coming closer to the PML-N. For the time being however, PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervez Elahi has denied such misunderstanding.

Even without the PML-Q’s 5 members, the opposition parties still have a chance. There are 21 potential members who could be urged to support a move against the government, even when the AML of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and the GDA are not counted.

The PPP and the PML-N also believe a forward bloc was slowly emerging in the PTI that could support a move against PM Khan.

‘GOVT HAS TAKEN U-TURN ON FATA’

Meanwhile, PPP leaders Akhunzada Chattan and Senator Rubina Khalid yesterday said PM Khan had taken a U-turn on the ‘Federally Administrated Tribal’ Areas plan.

“FATA was merged into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with promises but the government has not fulfilled any commitment. The government had promised it will not levy tax on the FATA people but it proved only a fake promise. They were also assured that they will get special concessions for five years. This also proved wrong,” said Akhunzada Chattan at a news conference here.

He said the people had rejected the inefficient government and soon the rulers will be sent packing.

Senator Rubina Khalid said the government was eyeing the mineral resources of FATA and PTI leader Jehangir Tareen was the ‘mastermind.’

“We reject the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minerals Sector Governance (Amendment) Bill, 2019,” she added.

Last week, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government passed a bill that declared all mines and minerals in the erstwhile FATA as government’s property.