With the no-confidence motion today important tables session is to be carried out. All eyes are now on the National Assembly as it is set to meet here on Monday (today) after a two-day recess, with an opposition-moved no-confidence resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan and a government-sponsored constitution amendment bill seeking the creation of the south Punjab province on its agenda.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told a news conference on Sunday said the voting on the no-trust motion would take place on April 4 if National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser allowed its tabling on Monday, hinting that the government could further delay the process.
Under the rules, from the day the resolution is moved, it “shall not be voted upon before the expiry of three days, or later than seven days”. The minister’s remarks show that the government will take maximum time for putting the resolution to vote, whenever the speaker allows its tabling.
On the other hand, the opposition parties have planned to hold a strong protest inside and outside the National Assembly if the speaker further delayed presenting the no-confidence motion.
After the decision of Shahzain Bugti of the Jamhoori Watan Party to quit the ruling coalition, the number of treasury members has now reduced to 178 in the 342-member lower house of the parliament, whereas the opposition now enjoys the support of 163 MNAs.
The PML-Q, the Balochistan Awami Party, and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan — the three major government allies having 17 MNAs — have yet to decide which side they are on. These parties are still negotiating with both the government and opposition parties.
Besides, over a dozen PTI dissident MNAs have already come into the open with their criticism on the government policies, indicating that they might support the opposition’s no-trust motion even at the cost of being disqualified as National Assembly members.
The speaker — who had called the opposition-requisitioned session on Friday, three days after the expiry of the constitutionally mandatory 14-day deadline — adjourned the sitting until Monday. He did not allow the opposition’s no-trust resolution to be tabled after offering fateha for the deceased PTI MNA from Hangu Khayal Zaman as per the parliamentary tradition.
The speaker adjourned the sitting within minutes and ignored Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif who wanted to seek the floor to deliver a speech. Later, the opposition lashed out at the speaker for not giving the floor to Mr. Sharif, stating that it was also a parliamentary tradition that the opposition leader was always given the floor whenever he stood up to speak.
Venting their anger at the speaker after the session, the opposition leaders alleged that the speaker was running the parliament “like a member of the ruling PTI and not the custodian of the house”.
South Punjab bill
After the opposition members addressed the news conference outside Parliament House, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also talked to the media and disclosed that he had submitted a constitution amendment bill to the National Assembly secretariat, seeking the creation of the south Punjab province.
It was at Mr. Qureshi’s request that the speaker had immediately issued orders to put the bill on Monday’s agenda.
The Opposition parties are confident that they can get the support of 172 members in the house of 342 to dislodge the government, while the government claims that it enjoys the required support in the house to foil the attempt.
The country plunged into uncertainty on March 8 after the combined Opposition submitted the motion with the National Assembly along with a requisition to the Speaker to summon the session within mandatory 14 days.
Though the session was called on March 25, three days after the deadline, the Speaker refused to allow the motion to be tabled.
Khan’s mega rally
In a massive show of strength ahead of the crucial no-confidence motion against his government, Khan on Sunday addressed a mammoth rally in the national capital where he claimed that foreign powers were involved in a conspiracy to topple his coalition government.
Pm Imran Khan’s address
Addressing the rally of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (PTI) titled ‘Amr Bil Maroof’ (enjoin the good) and billed as a “historic” event at Parade Ground in Islamabad, Prime Minister Khan said foreign elements are using local politicians and money to “mend the country’s foreign policy” and asserted that he has a letter as ‘evidence’ to support his claims.
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, giving air to the sails of opposition ships to make war on his government.
With major allies of Khan looking the other way and about two dozen PTI members of Parliament revolting against him, and the powerful establishment not providing a helping hand, he is less likely to get the support of the much-coveted 172 lawmakers.
Khan, 69, is heading a coalition government and he can be removed if some of the partners decide to switch sides.
The PTI has 155 members in the 342-member National Assembly and needs at least 172 lawmakers on its side to remain in the government.
The move has come at a time when the PTI is struggling to win back the support of its allies and dissidents within the party, many of whom happen to be from south Punjab.
Under the draft bill, the south Punjab province would have 56 seats in the National Assembly, including 46 general seats, and 119 in its provincial assembly. Creating south Punjab as the country’s fifth province was one of PTI’s election manifestos.
“Today, we have fulfilled another promise made to the people of south Punjab,” Mr. Qureshi told reporters, adding that he had moved the bill on the prime minister’s directive. He urged opposition parties, including the PPP and PML-N, to support the constitution amendment bill.
A bill seeking the creation of south Punjab province introduced by PML-N’s Rana Mehmoodul Hasan and was supported by both PTI and PPP has already been pending before the Senate since January.
On Sunday, the National Assembly secretariat issued a 26-point agenda for Monday’s sitting, which included the presentation of two ordinances, besides resolutions seeking extension in the constitutional life of three other ordinances. Interestingly, two of the ordinances have already expired.
The opposition submitted the requisition notice on March 8 under Article 54 of the Constitution and the no-confidence resolution against the prime minister under Article 95.
According to Article 54, once a National Assembly session has been requisitioned with signatures of at least 25 percent of its members, the speaker has a maximum of 14 days to summon a session.
However, the speaker, who had to call the lower house in session by March 22, convened it on March 25.
In his order, he stated that a motion had been adopted by the National Assembly on Jan 21 to allow the exclusive use of its chamber for the 48th session of the Organisation of Islamic Countries’ Council of Foreign Ministers on March 22 and 23.
He said the Capital Development Authority chairman and Islamabad’s deputy commissioner were also approached for the provision of a suitable place outside the parliament building, but “they have informed in writing that no suitable place is available at present in Islamabad”.