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ISLAMABAD: The newly-formed federal coalition would face a mammoth task of securing a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament to impeach President Arif Alvi.

There are reports that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supremo Asif Ali Zardari has indicated that he may be interested in the position of President if offered.

Unlike the prime minister who can be removed with a majority vote in National Assembly under Article 95, president’s impeachment requires two-third majority in Senate and National Assembly under Article 47.

This implies that in a 342-seat NA, the present strength of which is 341, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) led ruling coalition would require 226 seats to secure two-third majority.

The total strength of ruling coalition is 174 whereas it claims to have the support of up to 22 dissident lawmakers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which makes the total number 196 - 30 less than 226 required to impeach the president.

As many as 125 lawmakers of PTI have already resigned and their resignations are likely to be accepted by acting Speaker NA Qasim Suri soon. Thereafter, the number of NA seats would be reduced to 216 in the coming days.

A lawmaker from the ruling coalition, requesting anonymity, admitted that it was “very difficult” and “nearly impossible” to impeach the president under present circumstances.

“Unless elections are held on the NA seats that are falling vacant and we win enough number of seats to remove the president—it’s unlikely that impeachment would be successful,” the source said.

In 100-seat Senate, the present strength of which is 99, the former PTI-led ruling coalition had 47 seats compared to the then opposition’s 52 seats. Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) that was an ally of PTI, parted ways with it in NA with four out of five BAP lawmakers having sided with the opposition parties in a no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan. However, the situation is different in Senate where 12 BAP senators are closely linked to Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, who reportedly continues to support PTI and its allies. Three Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) senators support the ruling coalition reducing PTI’s support from 47 to 44 votes and increasing government’s strength from 52 to 55 in Senate. However, 66 votes in Senate are required to attain two-third majority for Alvi’s impeachment.

A detailed procedure of president’s impeachment is laid down in Article 47. It provides that the president may be removed from office on the ground of physical or mental incapacity or impeached on a charge of violating the constitution or gross misconduct.

According to this article, not less than half of the total membership of either house may give to the speaker NA/ chairman Senate written notice of their intention to move a resolution for the removal/impeachment of the president.

If chairman Senate receives this notice, he shall transmit it forthwith to the speaker NA, who shall, within three days of its receipt, send its copy to president.

The NA speaker shall summon the two houses to meet in a joint sitting not earlier than seven days and not later than 14 days of the receipt of the notice by him, Article 47 provides.

“The joint sitting may investigate or cause to be investigated the ground or the charge upon which the notice is founded—the president shall have the right to appear and be represented during the investigation, if any, and before the joint sitting,” Article 47 further stipulates.

If, after the result of the investigation, a resolution is passed at the joint sitting by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) declaring that the president is unfit to hold the office due to incapacity or is guilty of violating the constitution or of gross misconduct, the president shall cease to hold office immediately on the passing of the resolution, Article 47 provides.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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