Islamabad: Pakistan National Assembly’s crucial session on a no-trust motion against embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan was adjourned Friday without tabling of the resolution. This decision was taken amid vociferous protests from opposition lawmakers.
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser said that the session was adjourned till 4.00pm March 28 due to the demise of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Khayal Zaman, February 14. According to Pakistan’s Parliamentary conventions, the first sitting after the death of a lawmaker is limited to the prayers for the departed soul and tributes from fellow lawmakers.
Several prominent opposition members, including Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples’ Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and co-chair Asif Ali Zardari were in the Parliament House Friday to participate in the much-anticipated session.
As Speaker Qaiser adjourned the session, opposition leaders started protesting. They requested him to take up the motion but the speaker did not turn their microphones on and retired to his chamber. The speaker said that the decision on taking up the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan would be taken in the next session.
The voting on the resolution should be held at least three to seven days after it has been laid before the National Assembly, according to rules.
The National Assembly Secretariat had Thursday issued a 15-point ‘Orders of the Day’ for the session, which included the no-confidence resolution.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif tweeted that out of 163 opposition lawmakers, 159 were present in the house. It was not clear how many ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party lawmakers attended the session.
Addressing a press conference outside Parliament House shortly after the session was adjourned Sharif warned that if the no-confidence motion was not allowed to move Monday, then they would not be responsible for what would come next.
“Asad Qaiser acted as a PTI worker instead of the National Assembly speaker,” Sharif said. He added that the opposition would resort to legal and constitutional protests if Qaiser tried to ‘act as a slave (of Imran)’.
Sharif also called for the speaker to be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution, which deals with high treason.
“The no-trust motion is going to be our democratic weapon. We will move towards free and fair elections,” Bilawal said and added that the prime minister had lost ‘his majority and government’.
Reacting to Sharif’s comments, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi demanded an apology from him for his tirade against the speaker.
Pakistan has been on the edge since opposition parties March 8 submitted a no-confidence motion before the National Assembly Secretariat, alleging that the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan was responsible for the economic crisis and the spiralling inflation in the country.
Imran, 69, is heading a coalition government. He can be removed if some of the partners decide to switch sides. Imran is facing a rebellion by his about two dozen lawmakers and allied parties which are also reluctant to pledge support to him.
Both Imran and his ministers are trying to give the impression that everything is fine and he would come out victorious out of the trial. However, it should be stated that no Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office.
Imran had said Wednesday that he will not resign at any cost. He claimed to have a ‘surprise’ up his sleeve for the opposition, even as at least three allies of the ruling coalition have indicated to vote against his government during the no-trust motion.