ISLAMABAD: In the event that Prime Minister Imran succeeds in barring/ disqualifying disgruntled Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members of Parliament from casting their vote against him in the impending vote of no confidence, he may be required to take a vote of confidence as he would lose majority in National Assembly.
However, only the President can direct the Prime Minister to seek a vote of confidence, but it is not binding on the president if the premier loses the majority in the lower house of Parliament.
Article 91 (5) provides that PM shall hold office during the pleasure of the president, but the president shall not exercise his powers under this clause unless he is satisfied that the PM does not command the confidence of the majority of the members of the NA, in which case he shall summon the NA and require the PM to obtain a vote of confidence from NA.
Requesting anonymity, a government lawmaker said, Article 91 (5) empowers the president to hold a vote of confidence for PM if he deems it necessary, but he is not bound to do so.
“If the president is satisfied that the PM holds a majority in the house, even if he lacks the numerical strength, the vote of confidence will not be held,” the source said.
Speaking to Business Recorder, President Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said, the pressure would mount on the president, if the PM survives the no-confidence motion but loses majority, to hold a vote of confidence.
“Although, the president is not constitutionally bound to direct the PM to seek a vote of confidence yet it is like an unwritten law or an unwritten obligation—that he must go for this option; otherwise, things would become extremely challenging including failure to pass the laws if the PM has lost his majority,” he said.
“The opposition can move a resolution in the NA asking the president to hold a vote of confidence for the PM or it can move Supreme Court and the court may direct that the PM takes a vote of confidence.
The PM cannot survive in the national assembly as the leader of the house if bills cannot be passed and everything will come to a standstill if he loses majority,” Mehboob said.
Former secretary ECP Kanwar Dilshad said a no-confidence motion can be immediately moved again against the PM if it proves unsuccessful. Previously, he said, Article 96 provided that no-confidence resolution could not be moved against the PM for six months if it was unsuccessful, he added.
Article 96 was omitted in the 18th Constitutional Amendment.
“Now, a no-confidence motion can be moved again immediately if it proves unsuccessful — although it is unlikely that opposition would do so because if lawmakers vote in favour of the PM and he survives the no-confidence move, it is unlikely that their support for the PM would change in a short period of time. And a vote of confidence is required to be taken by the PM whenever he loses majority in the lower house of Parliament,” he said.
In 342-seat NA, the present strength of which is 341 members, PTI-led ruling coalition has 178 seats and opposition has 163 seats. One seat is vacant due to the death of PTI Member National Assembly (MNA) Khial Zaman Orakzai. A simple majority or 172 seats are required to maintain a majority in NA. If seven or more lawmakers from the ruling coalition step down, the PM would lose the majority.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022