- Session lasts less than 20 minutes, agenda had included no-confidence resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan
The crucial 41st session of the National Assembly (NA) commenced on Friday for a brief period with Speaker Asad Qaiser in the chair, but was adjourned within 20 minutes.
The session began with the recitation of the Holy Quran and prayers for PTI MNA Khayal Zaman and former president Rafiq Tarar.
Qaiser said that as per parliamentary traditions, the session would be adjourned owing to the death of Zaman. The session has been deferred to March 28 (Monday) 4pm.
This is just a delaying tactic by the PTI government because they do not have the numbers. If they had a majority, they would have preferred holding the session: PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair
Earlier, the session began amid heightened security in Islamabad, as the opposition and government came face-to-face after exchanging heated accusations for weeks.
The 15-point order of the day by the National Assembly Secretariat contained, among other agenda items, moving of the no-confidence resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“This House is of the view that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Imran Khan, has lost the confidence of the majority of the members of the National Assembly of Pakistan; therefore he should cease to hold office," read the text of the resolution as placed on order of the day.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and PPP co-chair Asif Ali Zardari also arrived at the Parliament House.
While speaking to reporters before the session, Zardari said that the opposition would "create a ruckus" if the speaker did not allow the motion to be tabled. Similarly, Shehbaz had said that the opposition would exercise its right to table the motion during the session.
He said if the motion was not tabled, then "we will consult among ourselves".
However, it had been speculated that house proceedings may not be held due to the death of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) MNA Khayal Zaman.
Also read: EDITORIALS Will he survive the vote?
As per parliamentary convention, the first session after the death of an MNA is limited to prayers for the soul of the departed and tributes by fellow lawmakers.
It was reported earlier that the NA speaker was likely to adjourn proceedings of the House till Monday, March 28, after recitation of the Fateha.
The political atmosphere in Islamabad has heated up in recent weeks with tensions raising fears of violence as both sides – the government and opposition – traded barbs and exchanged accusations. While the opposition is accusing Khan’s party of using violence to intimidate critics, the government keeps insisting that it has a "trump card" it will unveil before the no-confidence vote.
After the opposition submitted the no-confidence motion against the premier, the NA speaker summoned the session on March 25 (today). Under Article 54 of the Constitution, the speaker is required to summon a session of the National Assembly within 14 days after receiving a requisition from the opposition.
Since the opposition submitted the resolution signed by 152 members, on March 8, the session was required to be summoned by March 21.
However, the government argued that the session can be delayed if circumstances permit.
Voting on the resolution will be held at least three to seven days after it has been laid before the NA.
Won’t resign ahead of no-trust vote: PM
Earlier, while talking to journalists on Wednesday, the PM said, “I will never resign, rather I will give a big surprise to the joint-opposition. I will reveal all my cards one day before the voting on no-confidence resolution. I will stand victorious in the no-confidence match.
“No one should be under the false impression that I will sit at home. I will not resign, and why should I? Should I resign due to the pressure from thieves?” the PM said.
He said, “[PDM chief] Maulana Fazlur Rehman is a 12th player and it is now time to remove him from the team.”
Answering a question, the prime minister also confirmed that he met Chaudhry Nisar, adding his relations with the former interior minister were over 40 years old.
All eyes on the allies
In a 342-seat NA, the present strength of which is 341 members, the PTI-led ruling coalition has 178 seats while the opposition has 163 seats.
One seat is vacant due to the death of PTI MNA Khayal Zaman Orakzai.
A simple majority or 172 seats is required to maintain a majority in NA.
If seven or more lawmakers from the ruling coalition step down, the PM would lose the majority.
The government has claimed that its coalition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), will support PM Imran over the issue of the no-confidence motion.
However, reports suggest that the joint opposition has reached an understanding with PML-Q to give the coveted slot of chief minister Punjab to Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi in return for support in the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.
On other hand, sources claim the MQM-P – another government coalition partner – has also been assured it would be included in the Sindh government if the no-trust move succeeds.
The opposition parties have announced they will protect MNAs who are being threatened with violence and arrest if they take part in the no-confidence process against the prime minister.