Despite
the PTI government’s hectic efforts to avoid voting on the no-confidence motion
against Prime Minister Imran Khan, the historic session of the National
Assembly to decide his fate began on Saturday at 10:30am — and after three
breaks, the session resumed after iftaar. 

Shortly
afterwards, and to the dismay of Opposition members, the session was adjourned
once again till 9.30pm. Meanwhile, sources told Geo News that
as per the plan of the government, the voting might not take place today at
all. 

NA
Secretariat sources, on the other hand, say the session will likely continue
till 12am.

Geo
News
 also reported that NA Speaker Asad
Qaiser refused to allow the voting, adding that since he shares a 30-year-long
relationship with PM Imran Khan, he cannot betray him.

What
has happened so far?

During
the first break — which lasted more than two hours —  the Opposition held
a consultative meeting in the Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif’s chamber
to discuss a counter-strategy for the government’s alleged plan to prolong the
session so that voting could not take place today.  

But
later, the government and the Opposition reached a consensus regarding
maintaining order in the House and allowing the speeches to take place
uninterrupted, per source

From
the Opposition’s side, JUI-F leader Maulana Asad Mahmood assured the members of
the treasury benches that they will not interrupt speeches delivered from the
government’s side; however, he warned that if the MNAs from the treasury
benches created a ruckus, the joint Opposition leaders will also react
accordingly.

Meanwhile,
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb claimed that the Opposition had not
accepted any of the conditions put forward by the government, and reiterated
that the voting on the no-confidence motion must take place today.  

She
further said that no conditions of the government will be entertained and that
no-time frame has been finalised for the voting either.

Aurangzeb
also reiterated that delay in the voting on the no-confidence motion was
tantamount to a violation of the Supreme Court’s verdict and the Constitution,
warning the speaker that the punishment for this is three years of imprisonment
and five years of disqualification.

‘US
security adviser asked Pakistani counterpart to avoid Russia tour’: Qureshi

Taking
the floor after the session resumed, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said
when the National Security Committee (NSC) was informed about the details of
the “top-secret document”, the forum decided to immediately demarche and the
second order was to summon a session of the Parliament to probe the matter.

Amid
interruption from PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique, Qureshi recalled that on
April 3, the deputy speaker never opposed the voting on the no-confidence
motion, he only said that an unprecedented situation has arrived and a decision
should be taken after consultation on this new development.

He
further added that the media and people of Pakistan are aware of the
“horse-trading” situation and the “market for sell-outs”. He accused the
Opposition members of adopting “unconstitutional measures to purchase loyalties
of the MNAs.”

The
foreign minister complained that those speaking about the constitution and the
judiciary ignored all of these “unconstitutional practices”.

Since the
Senate elections, PTI has been time and again complaining about these unjust
practices of buying and selling consciences, he said, adding that even when PTI
produced enough evidence in the court, the judgment has been reserved for the
last one year.

He said
history will identify all those people who staged this drama; just like how the
corruption of the previous governments was highlighted.

“Today
Pakistan is standing at a historic juncture and the people need to decide
whether they want to live in an independent state or become slaves [to the
West],” he said, acknowledging that today might be his last day as the foreign
minister of Pakistan.

“As the
foreign minister of Pakistan, I want to bring this to record that when the
decision to visit Moscow was taken after due deliberation because of Pakistan’s
better future and was taken months before the Ukraine situation emerged,” he
said, ignoring the sarcastic comments from the Opposition benches.

He said:
“Before we [the government] leave, I want to bring this to your knowledge that
the national security adviser of the United States called our national security
adviser and categorically asked us not to proceed with the Russia tour.”

“Where in the
world does any sovereign state gets direction from other countries and which
independent country accepts such directions?” he questioned, as the hall echoed
with protests from the Opposition benches.

“Pakistan
officials thought that during the visit, the delegation would advocate dialogue
and diplomacy because Pakistan is not in favour of any aggression.”

Pakistan is a
country that believes in international law, respects the UN charter, believes
in self-determination, and has never supported the use of weapons and force,”
Qureshi said, adding that when the US national security adviser asked his
Pakistani counterpart to avoid the trip “we conveyed this message to them as
well.”

Before the
resumption of the session, Qureshi, while citing PM Imran Khan’s April 8
address to the nation, said that to honour the Constitution is the
responsibility of all Pakistani and “just like the premier said, although we
are disappointed with Supreme Court’s judgment, we still abide by the verdict.”

Highlighting
the seriousness of the “threat letter” controversy, Qureshi said: “When the
National Security Committee — one of the highest security forums — saw the
cypher, a coded message from the ambassador, they acknowledged that the matter
is sensitive.”

He further
added that the NSC issued two directives: “They acknowledge that there was
political interference in the internal matters of Pakistan and ordered the
foreign office that a demarche must be issued in Islamabad and Washington as
well.

“They
also directed to convene a meeting of the national security committee of the
parliament to raise this issue in front of selected members of the House.”

The
PTI vice-chairman recalled that when the speaker summoned a session of the NSC,
the Opposition leaders decided not to attend the meeting.

Regarding
allegations levelled by the Opposition leaders that the “threat letter” was
“fake” and had been “forged”, the foreign minister said that this is an
authentic “non-circulation” document sent by an officer and a seasoned diplomat
posted in Washington.

“If
the Opposition leaders still hold questions regarding the ‘threat letter’, I
want to make a proposal on the floor of the House, lets go into an in-camera
session and let the ambassador of Pakistan in Washington come in the House and
brief the members of the Parliament whether he stands by what he said or not,”
Qureshi asserted.

Repeating
PM Imran Khan’s words from last night’s session, he reiterated that the US
official had warned the Pakistani ambassador that if Imran Khan manages to save
himself from the motion, then Pakistan will have to face “severe consequences.”

“If
this is not a threat then what is?” he questioned.

Turning
to the Opposition, he said that they had been calling for elections for the
last three-and-a-half years.

“They
[the Opposition] said the elections were not fair and transparent and called
Imran Khan selected. Now when Imran Khan suggested holding the elections to see
what the nation wants, they are not ready for it,” he said.

‘Voting
must be carried out’: Bilawal

Speaking
during the session, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said reminded the
speaker that the voting on the no-confidence motion must be carried out.
Holding the NA’s order of the day in his hands, Bilawal said: “You are not only
committing contempt of the court but also violating the Constitution as you
cannot allow debate on any other topic except for what is on the agenda today
in line with the order of the Supreme Court.”

He
said that on April 3, PTI ministers, the prime minister, the president and the
deputy speaker violated the Constitution.

“All
of you were involved in this crime,” he said.

Interrupting
Bilawal, the speaker said that he respects the court but the court cannot
intervene in the domain of the Parliament and vice versa.

The
PPP chairman urged the speaker to comply with the court’s order and hold the
voting on the no-confidence motion against the prime minister, adding that he
knew who was giving advice to PM Imran Khan.

“The
Opposition will not leave the House if you do not follow today’s agenda,” he
warned the speaker.

Bilawal
claimed that PM Imran Khan lost the majority in the House, adding that the
Opposition has the required numbers to topple the government.

Criticising
the premier, the PPP leader said that PM Imran Khan ran away cowardly from the
House and termed the “undemocratic and unconstitutional advice” given to the
prime minister as a “conspiracy to wrap up the democratic system in the
county.”

Recalling
alleged rigging in the elections, the PPP leader said that their lawmakers were
forced to vote for PTI and claimed that they won the Senate elections by four
votes.

He
maintained that their 20 lawmakers became the victims of enforced
disappearances. “PTI has lost majority because now there is no one to make them
disappear,” he added.

Reacting
to the “foreign conspiracy”, Bilawal said that PM Imran came up with the idea
of a foreign plot when he lost the majority in the house. He maintained that
the no-trust motion did not come under discussion in the NSC meeting.

“They
are ready to sacrifice the speaker to evade voting on the no-trust motion,” he
added. The PPP leader said that they wanted to create a crisis in the country
to pave the way for dictatorship and military rule.

“PM
Imran Khan could be disqualified by the court. We can stage a sit-in against
him,” Bilawal said, adding that they opted to dislodge him through the
democratic way.

‘Opposition
will oust selected PM today’: Shahbaz

At
the beginning of the session, the speaker allowed Shahbaz to begin his speech.
But as soon as he started speaking, several of the 151 PTI MNAs present in the
House started interrupting him by chanting slogans. 

Shahbaz
told the speaker to conduct the session as per the order of the Supreme Court
and added that today, the Opposition will oust the “selected” prime
minister by adopting a lawful and constitutional procedure. 

At
this, the speaker interjected a remark and said that the House should hold a
discussion about the “foreign conspiracy” hatched against the PTI
government. 

Continuing
his address, Shahbaz said that April 7 was the “brightest day” in the history
of Pakistan when the Supreme Court of Pakistan acknowledged the
“unconstitutional act” of the NA speaker, deputy speaker and prime minister and
declared it “null and void”.

“The
apex court did not take the support of the doctrine of necessity but instead
buried it forever; making Pakistan’s future brightest,” he said, adding that
the entire nation is thankful.

He
urged the NA speaker to conduct proceedings in accordance with the SC’s
directives, warning him that he [Asad Qaiser] will violate the constitution if
he takes up any other agenda, including the foreign conspiracy”.

The
Opposition leader read the following para from the written verdict of the SC
order:

“Under
the court’s directives, you are bound to take up this agenda item and no other
item. That is the intent of the order and you cannot deviate from it,” he.

Amid
protest from the Opposition benches, Shahbaz called on the speaker to hold
voting on the motion forthwith.

Replying
to his demand and constant reminder of the apex court’s verdict, the speaker
said: “The SC’s orders will be followed in true letter and spirit.” 

‘Vote,
vote, vote, and nothing but vote’: Zardari

Ex-president
Asif Ali Zardari drew the attention of the speaker to the order of the day.
“Today is the voting day.”

“They
are hunters, cricketers, politicians, and are running the country in a good
manner […] then why are the exports the same as they were during my
tenure,” Zardari asked the government.

The
ex-president said there were several things that the PTI leaders would learn
someday. “The PPP is the only party that has a political university, and
they have several students of ours in their camp.”

“Please
don’t waste time; let this reach its end,” Zardari said as he noted that
once Pakistan has political stability, the economic conditions would gradually
improve.

“Due
to the Supreme Court’s decision, the market went up by 700% and the dollar
spiralled by Rs3.5, but they (government) cannot see this as they do not care
[for stability],” Zardari said.

“…all
I am asking you is: vote, vote, vote, and nothing but vote […] I do not want
to against you (Asad Qaiser) to the Supreme Court and tell the court that you
are guilty of contempt,” the PPP co-chairman said. 

‘SC’s
ruling interference in proceedings of Parliament’: Asad Umar

Planning
Minister Asad Umar claimed that the Supreme Court’s declaration of the deputy
speaker’s ruling was “interference in the proceedings of the Parliament.”

“If
Supreme Court has to decide on which day and at what time the session will be
summoned then we should do away with assembly,” said Umar. He added that the
apex court’s decision was “an interference in Parliament’s matters”.

“Would
it have been right if the Parliament had intervened in Supreme Court’s
matters?” asked Umar. He also questioned whether it would have been right if
the Parliament decided which judge comes and goes in the Parliament.

“Would
it have been right if Parliament decides which case is heard when? We have to
decide that no one can challenge the Parliament’s rights,” said Umar.

The
minister also asked the Opposition if they “believe in democracy” then they
should also “believe in Parliament’s supremacy”.

“The
House should unite and raise its voice that the power of Parliament belongs to
no one else,” said Umar.

‘Dollars,
threats unite traitors’: Shireen Mazari

Taking
to the floor Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said that the US currency
[dollars] and foreign threats “unite traitors.”

Mazari’s
speech revolved around the alleged US influence on Pakistani politics. “It
is this nation’s misfortune that America has always been successful in
[changing] the leaders of Pakistan.”

She
recalled that the Opposition was invited to check the “threat letter” that
according to the government is “proof” of a foreign-funded conspiracy. But I
know why you did not come … because you’re a part of that conspiracy, which
clearly states that “if you will oust Imran Khan and no-confidence vote is successful,
then the nation will be forgiven.”

Speaking
about ECP’s statement regarding elections, she said: “The ECP’s statement
of not being able to hold elections, too, is a part of this conspiracy.”

‘Conspiring
to get martial law imposed’: Khawaja Asif

For
his part, ex-foreign minister and PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said the
lawmakers whose forefathers are named in the Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission report
— on the fall of Dhaka — are calling the Opposition members traitors.

“They
are lying, there is no letter […] they will go to any lengths to save their
power. They are conspiring to get martial law imposed in the country,” the
ex-minister said.

Asif
challenged the prime minister to come and face the members in the lower house
as again turned down the claims of the prime minister and federal ministers of
a “threat” to their government from a foreign power.

“We
are in majority, they are in minority; wrap up your stuff and leave […] we
will keep standing here for the supremacy of the Constitution,” the PML-N
leader said.

Asif
said the time for debate was over, and the house should have moved earlier
toward voting. “Start the voting process,” the ex-foreign minister
told the speaker.

Opposition
holds consultations 

During
the delayed break, Shahbaz Sharif, along with other Opposition leaders, held
consultations in their chamber to discuss the situation of the NA session. The
consultative meeting discussed the strategies regarding the government.

MNAs
including Asad Mahmood, Akhtar Mengal, Khalid Hussain Magsi and Shahzain Bugti
were present in the meeting.

Shahbaz
and Zardari discussed the government’s tactics in delaying the voting.

Supreme
Court’s order

The
Supreme Court had on Thursday ordered the government to hold voting on the
motion on Saturday at all costs according to the agenda issued for April 3
session when the deputy speaker rejected the motion through a ruling declaring
it “unconstitutional” and a “foreign conspiracy”. 

The
top court’s directives came after Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial took suo motu
notice of Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s ruling and the subsequent dissolution of
the assembly, declaring all the decisions unconstitutional.

As
per the order of the Supreme Court voting is to be held at all costs today and
in case the PM is voted out, the election of a new Leader of the House will be
held during the same session. The voting on the no-confidence motion is at the
fourth position in the six-point agenda issued for today.

Speaker
Asad Qaiser could not take up agenda other than voting on the motion and if he
did not do so, he would have to face contempt of court proceedings. 

It
is pertinent to mention here that the Opposition has submitted the
no-confidence motions against the speaker and deputy speaker, however, Asad
Qaiser can chair today’s session according to the rules.

‘Will
form coalition govt’: Shahbaz

Prior
to the commencement of the session, Shahbaz, while sharing his future plans,
said he would form a collation government comprising all the Opposition
parties, adding, “it will not be only PML-N’s government.”

The
PML-N leader was speaking to the media after arriving at the assembly.

When
asked if he would take PM Imran Khan to trial or pardon him if the no-trust
motion against him succeeds, Shahbaz said: “Why do you ask such questions which
I cannot answer?”

Joint
Opposition’s parliamentary session

Hours
ahead of the session, the joint Opposition held a meeting to prepare a strategy
for today where, according to PML-N spokesperson Marrriyum Aurangzeb, 175
lawmakers were present. 

The
meeting was attended by top opposition leaders including Bilawal and
others. 

During
the meeting, opposition leaders said that voting on the no-confidence motion is
their constitutional and democratic right. The leaders said that they will
“not compromise on the voting today”.

Opposition
leaders meet NA speaker

Before
the NA session began, a delegation of senior Opposition leaders, including Ayaz
Sadiq, Rana Sanaullah and Saad Rafiqui, met NA Speaker Asad Qaiser.

During
the brief meeting, the Opposition members reiterated the Supreme Court’s
verdict and discussed the orders and rules of the assembly.

The
Opposition delegation clarified that “no other agenda can be taken in line
with the orders of the court and the rules of the assembly.”

“The
no-confidence motion is a parliamentary, democratic, and constitutional
initiative,” the delegation told the NA speaker.

They
warned Qaiser that if anything else is discussed, it will be “contempt of court
and unconstitutional.”

‘I
had seen proofs regarding foreign conspiracy’: NA deputy speaker

Speaking
to Geo News, NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri said that he is a
“patriotic person” and passed the April 3 ruling on the basis of facts.

“I
did not breach any law I had seen the proofs regarding the ‘foreign conspiracy’
and ‘threat letter’ before passing the ruling,” he maintained.

It
is worth mentioning that out of the 133 members of the treasury benches only 51
MNAs are present in the assembly.

NA
speaker duty-bound to proceed with no-trust motion

The
National Assembly officials told Geo News that according to
the SC larger bench’s written order, the NA Speaker has been made duty-bound to
proceed with the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan as per the
April 3 agenda of the National Assembly.

The
NA officials said that the voting on the no-trust motion could take place
within seven days of its submission and last Sunday (April 3) was the last day
of voting, so SC’s larger bench ordered the speaker to revive the April 3
agenda of the National Assembly and conduct voting on the no-confidence motion.
Therefore, today (April 9) will be considered the last day (seventh day) of
voting on the no-confidence motion and it is essential to move with the set
agenda.

 

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2022-04-09

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