On Tuesday, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb announced that a delegation of senior opposition lawmakers had filed a motion of no-trust with the National Assembly Secretariat, against Prime Minister Imran Khan. A delegation of opposition party members including her, Rana Sanaullah, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, and Shazia Marri, had reached the Parliament House in Islamabad. Aurangzeb said that Speaker Asad Qaiser was not present in his office at the time, which was why the documents were sent to the secretariat.
Under Article 54 of the Pakistan Constitution, the opposition has requisitioned the National Assembly, since it is not in session, and a no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan has been proposed. It is stipulated in Article 54 that a session can be requested if 25 percent of the members sign the requisition, following which, the speaker has 14 days to summon a session. As of Monday, 140 members of parliament signed the requisition, according to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmaker Syed Naveed Qamar.
For a no-confidence resolution to be voted on, Article 95 of the Pakistan Constitution and the House rules stipulate that it must be signed by at least 20 percent of the members of the National Assembly, which amounts to at least 68 members. Following the assembly session, the secretary will circulate a notice for a no-confidence vote, which will be taken on the following working day. Once the resolution is moved, it can only be voted on within three days, or no later than seven day. Accordingly, the speaker must call the lower house into session on or before March 22, and the no-confidence vote must occur between March 26 and March 30. A simple majority is needed to pass the no-confidence motion against the prime minister, which means at least 172 out of 342 members must support it.
In March 2021, following an upset in the Senate elections, Imran Khan voluntarily requested a trust vote. He had secured 178 votes in the assembly – six more than what was required for a vote of confidence. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader had told reporters at the PM House that his government would not be overthrown and would become stronger.
“We will defeat them in such a manner that they will not be able to recover until 2028,” he said, as reported by the Dawn. He said that the opposition was controlled by “multiple foreign hands”, and that he had completed his preparation.
According to Imran Khan, Pak-administered Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is an “easy target” as he is disliked only by chief ministers seeking to succeed him. He alleged that the lawmakers were offered Rs 180 million in bribes. The prime minister added that he had advised those lawmakers to distribute the money to the poor.
Khan commented that those who do not support an independent foreign policy are supporting the opposition. In an apparent reference to a video showing PPP’s Ali Haider Gillani explaining to lawmakers how to cancel votes, he said that Gilani’s sons had offered money to lawmakers but nobody took action. He asserted that the Pakistan Army was with the country and would never support “these thieves”.
Upon his arrival at Parliament House, Speaker Asad Qaiser was hounded by the press and asked about his response to the opposition’s draft. Despite the opposition’s actions, the speaker seemed unperturbed. “It is their legal right. If it is according to the rules, to the law, to the Constitution, it will be treated as such,” he said.
Qaiser was also grilled by reporters about how he would “manage” calling the lower house of the Parliament, since the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will also meet later this month. “Right now they have submitted it. I will look at it and then consult over it,” he said, adding that everything would be done according to the law. In response to a question on whether PTI lawmakers were united, he responded, “The PTI parliamentarians are with the party; differences develop sometimes… It is best that the no-trust move happened so that doodh ka doodh and pani ka pani ho jaye (the issue is clarified).” Qaiser, who is also a PTI member, said that the party is in contact with its ally Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), for consultation.
Estranged PTI leader Jahangir Tareen, however, remained mum about a possible change in the Punjabi government or the group of dissidents led by him. In contrast, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Pakistan had only one leader – Imran Khan – and added that the opposition would be defeated regardless of its joint efforts. Dr Shahbaz Gill, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Political Communication, welcomed the no-confidence motion. Furthermore, he relayed a message from the premier to the nation, saying that he would fight against this “buying and selling”.
On February 11, Islamic fundamentalist leader Maulana Fazl had announced that a no-confidence motion will be moved against Prime Minister Imran Khan, and that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would reach out to the PTI’s allies. At the time, Fazl had said that the opposition alliance did not yet know whether it would also file a no-confidence motion against National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, and said that consultations were underway between the parties and the legal team. Many political meetings, including those between opposition parties and the PTI and its allies, have been held in Lahore since then.
According to Fazl last week, opposition parties will decide whether to submit a no-confidence motion against the government or request a parliamentary session in the coming days. His assertion that the opposition has the numbers to win a no-confidence motion is based on the fact they have been attempting to secure support from more than 180 lower house members.
The PTI also suffered a major setback on Monday after cracks began to appear within the party. Angered by Aleem Khan’s announcement that he would be joining the Jahangir Tareen faction, PM Imran Khan dispatched Sindh Governor Imran Ismail to Lahore to appease the former Punjab minister. In his address to the PTI’s core committee, the prime minister urged Aleem Khan to emerge from hiding. He is reportedly supported by more than three dozen Punjab legislators, including ten ministers, and is aligned with Tareen. For the first time during the PTI’s three-and-a-half years in power, the former Punjab minister accused the Imran Khan government and the Usman Buzdar-led Punjab government of “completely failing to fulfil their mandates and bring about the promised changes”.
Additionally, he blamed the PTI for pushing aside the so-called “diehard workers” once they came into power, and said that many are still puzzled as to why Tareen and others within the party were left out.