PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif tables no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan in Pak Parliament

File Photo

ISLAMABAD, March 28: A no-confidence motion against Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was tabled on Monday in the National Assembly by Leader of the Opposition and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, setting in motion the process in the lower house to remove the embattled cricketer-turned-politician from office.
As the much-anticipated session began after a two-day recess on Monday, Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri asked the members of the Parliament, who are in favour of the motion, to stand up to that their numbers could be counted.
Mr. Sharif first moved a resolution to allow tabling of the no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, the lower house of bi-cameral parliament, which was approved by 161 yes votes.
It was followed by tabling of the no-confidence motion by Mr. Sharif, capping the first phase of the constitutional procedure.
Since the voting should be held between 3-7 days, Deputy Speaker Suri who was chairing the session in the absence of Speaker Asad Qaidar, prorogued the session until 4 pm March 31, when it would reconvene for debate and voting.
Prime Minister Imran Khan needs 172 votes in the house of 342 to foil the bid. Since Mr. Khan’s allies with 23 members are still not committed to support him and about two dozen lawmakers from within the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf have revolted, the situation was still fluid.
Mr. Khan was meeting Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, a key ally, while opposition was scheduled to hold a massive rally in the capital, as both side claims having numbers to succeed.
The country plunged into uncertainty on March 8 after the combined opposition submitted the motion with the National Assembly along with a requisition to the speaker to summon the session within mandatory 14 days.
Though the session was called on March 25, three days after the deadline, the speaker refused to allow the motion to be tabled.
Talking to media, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said that the no-confidence resolution would be decided by March 31, adding that Prime Minister Khan was not going anywhere.
“People must shun the idea that Imran’s politics is teetering on the brink, especially after his ‘great’ rally in Islamabad a day ago,” he said, and termed the move as “a conspiracy to weaken Pakistan”.
Mr. Rashid repeated what Mr. Khan said on Sunday while addressing a rally in Islamabad that an international conspiracy was afoot to topple his government. However, in response to a question Rashid said he has no idea about the letter that Khan had referred to in his speech.
In a massive show of strength ahead of the crucial no-confidence motion against his government, Mr. Khan on Sunday addressed a mammoth rally in the national capital where he claimed that foreign powers were involved in a conspiracy to topple his coalition government.
Addressing the rally of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (PTI) titled ‘Amr Bil Maroof’ (enjoin the good) and billed as a “historic” event at Parade Ground in Islamabad, Prime Minister Khan said foreign elements are using local politicians and money to “mend the country’s foreign policy” and asserted that he has a letter as ‘evidence’ to support his claims.
Mr. Rashid also said that the Prime Minister had rejected his proposal to call snap elections, dissolve the Punjab Assembly and impose governor’s rule in Sindh. He also said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had permission of Islamabad’s administration to hold a rally in the capital on Monday.
Mr. Rashid, a close aide of Mr. Khan, is regularly dishing out hope to the supporters of Khan, who got another jolt in the form of a no-confidence move filed against his protege and hand-picked Chief Minister of Punjab province, Usman Buzdar.
An official handout issued by the provincial assembly secretariat, 127 provincial lawmakers signed the no-trust motion against Buzdar, while 120 signed the requisition notice to summon session within 14 days.
PML-N lawmaker Rana Mashhood said in a video that Buzdar can’t dissolve the assembly once the no-trust move is submitted.
The political temperature in Pakistan has been slowly reaching a boiling point in the wake of the no-trust move by the Opposition. The Opposition parties are confident that they can get the support of 172 members in the house of 342 to dislodge the government, while the government claims that it enjoys the required support in the house to foil the attempt.
Mr. Khan came to power in 2018 with promises to create a ‘Naya Pakistan’ but miserably failed to address the basic problem of keeping the prices of commodities in control, giving air to the sails of opposition ships to make war on his government.
With major allies of Khan looking the other way and about two dozen PTI members of Parliament revolting against him, and the powerful establishment not providing a helping hand, he is less likely to get the support of the much-coveted 172 lawmakers.
Mr. Khan, 69, is heading a coalition government and he can be removed if some of the partners decide to switch sides.
The PTI has 155 members in the 342-member National Assembly and needs at least 172 lawmakers on its side to remain in the government. (Agencies)