- Resolution accepted by NA Deputy Speaker after 161 members vote in favour, debate to now take place on Thursday (March 31)
The National Assembly (NA) accepted on Monday the no-confidence resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan after 161 lawmakers voted in favour of it at the start of the session.
Following this, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri adjourned the session till March 31 (Thursday) during which debate will take place on the resolution.
Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif tabled the no-confidence motion against PM after which counting took place.
"I will request that you give permission to present this item in the house as the resolution was already on the agenda," he said addressing the NA deputy speaker.
A crucial session of the NA resumed on Monday with Suri in the chair, as the opposition remained adamant on its no-confidence motion 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," the resolution, which has signatures of 152 opposition members, said.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had earlier said that if the motion is tabled today (March 28), voting will be held on Monday (April 4).
Earlier on Monday, the opposition also submitted a no-confidence motion against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. The motion was submitted by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Rana Mashood, Samiullah and Mian Naseer at the Punjab Assembly Secretariat.
As per Mashood, it has the signatures of more than 126 lawmakers.
Asad Qaiser adjourns session
In the previous NA session on March 25, Qaiser said that as per parliamentary traditions, the session would be adjourned owing to the death of PTI MNA Khayal Zaman. The session was deferred to March 28 (today).
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.
'Will exercise all options'
Following the development, the opposition warned not to adjourn the session on the no-confidence motion against PM again, saying that it will use every political and legal option to ensure the vote takes place on Monday.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif along with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari spoke to the media after the NA session was adjourned on Friday.
Shehbaz said that the NA speaker has conspired with the PM, and should be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution. He further said that the nation will always remember Qaiser as a person who violated the constitution.
“This partisan behaviour does not suit the custodian of the House. Adjournment of NA session is part of desperate efforts to disrupt no-confidence process.
“You cannot stop the inevitable through such underhand tactics.”
'Foreign hand' involved in effort to topple govt: PM
Meanwhile, Khan has said that ongoing efforts to pressure his political party, and topple the government are being funded by foreign powers who are looking to influence the country's foreign policy.
The premier's remarks came during his address at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) “historic gathering” at Parade Ground in Islamabad on Sunday as thousands of party workers assembled in the federal capital from all over the country to show support to the leader by holding a “million-man” rally ahead of the no-confidence vote.
"When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto tried to pursue an independent foreign policy, other political parties ran a campaign against him and created an atmosphere that resembles the one today," said Khan towards the end of his speech.
"Foreign powers have always been interfering in Pakistan’s politics. I want to inform these powers that be that this is not 1971 — the time has changed.
"Some of our people are being used without knowing the complete truth, while others are fully involved in this conspiracy."
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.