The National Assembly session on Saturday, adjourned till 12:30 pm by Speaker Asad Qaiser, will resume after Zuhar prayers.
The session was called on the orders of Supreme Court to vote on no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan at 10:30 am. Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif addressed the session and later Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi took the mike. The opposition started creating ruckus during his speech and Speaker Asad adjourned the session.
Local news channels reported quoting sources that the session has been deliberately delayed and the PTI ministers will try to make their speeches lengthier.
Earlier, the session began at 10:30 am sharp with Speaker Asad in the chair, in accordance with the orders of Supreme Court with the recitation from the Holy Quran. It was followed by the national anthem and fateha.
Voting on the no-confidence motion against the prime minister is the fourth item on the day’s agenda. While the opposition has come out in full force, very few members of the treasury benches are in attendance. Prime Minister Imran Khan is also not present.
Taking the floor, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif hailed Thursday as a historic day in the country’s history when the apex court rejected the deputy speaker’s ruling.
According to the PML-N leader, the decision had made Pakistan’s future “bright”.
He also thanked the opposition leadership for struggling against the erroneous ruling, the fruits of which the country was seeing.
He urged the speaker to conduct proceedings in accordance with the court’s directives, stating that parliament would be writing history today. “Today, parliament is going to defeat a selected prime minister in a constitutional manner,” he declared.
Shehbaz told the speaker to let bygones be bygones and to stand for the law and the constitution. He urged him to play his role and to have his name “written in history in golden words”.
“You must cash in on this moment with conviction and with your heart and your mind. Don’t go on the dictation of the selected prime minister,” he urged Speaker Asad, adding that the apex court’s directives were clear.
Responding to Shehbaz’s earnest plea, the speaker assured him that he would conduct proceedings according to the law and the Constitution. “[But] the important thing is that there has been talk of an international conspiracy. This should also be discussed,” he said, as the hall echoed with protests from the opposition benches.
This prompted Shehbaz to tell the speaker that he would be violating the court’s directives if he would go down that road. He also read out the court’s directives regarding the convening of the session.
“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 said, calling on the speaker to hold voting on the motion forthwith.
“The SC’s orders will be followed in true letter and spirit,” Speaker Asad replied, giving the floor to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
SHAH MAHMOOD QURESHI: The foreign minister began by acknowledging that the opposition had the right to table a no-trust motion against the prime minister but said that defending it was his obligation. “We intend to fight it in constitutional, political and democratic manner,” he asserted.
Talking about constitutional violations, he said that it was obligatory “on us to respect the Constitution”. “As the prime minister said yesterday, he is disappointed but has accepted the court’s decision,” Qureshi said, referring to PM Imran’s address on Friday night.
“Pakistan’s history is full of constitutional violations,” he said. The minister went on to say that the doctrine of necessity should have been buried, voicing his happiness at the “evolution” of Pakistan’s democracy.
“I am happy that Pakistan’s democracy has evolved and that we all are not ready to take its (doctrine of necessity) support,” he added.
Qureshi said there had been many examples of constitutional violations in Pakistan’s history. “Constitutional violations, unfortunately, have been a part of our history.”
He said a major example of a constitutional violation from recent history pertained to October 12, 1999, when PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s government was toppled as a result of a military coup.
“The nation is a witness to the fact that the Constitution was violated on October 12, 2009. And when the case was presented before the apex court … history is witness, that not only justifications were made but permission was also given for an amendment to the Constitution,” he said.
Qureshi noted that Pakistan Democratic Movement chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had said they would not accept any ruling based on the doctrine of necessity, even before the SC had issued its verdict and while the matter was subjudice.
Qureshi also presented the stance of the prime minister, saying that he was disappointed but respected the court’s orders. He added that NA proceedings were being conducted in accordance with the directives issued by the court.
“Today is Saturday and the session has started at 10:30am. The court said the session will not be prorogued unless the process of Article 95 and rule 37 is concluded.”
However, it is important to present the context under which the court directed to summon the session again, he added. He said that the clock was turned back and the apex court unanimously dismissed the April 3 ruling.
The minister said that the prime minister went to the people by dissolving the assembly, adding that the opposition had been calling for early polls for close to four years.
“He (prime minister) said let’s go to the people and let them decide in whose hands they want to see Pakistan’s future.”
He reiterated that the government had accepted the court’s decision but questioned why the opposition parties went to the court and why the SC took suo motu notice. “The ruling the deputy speaker gave when he was chairing the session […] he did not reject the constitutional process. He said a new situation had surfaced and that it should be probed in its light.”
Qureshi added that the National Security Committee (NSC), one of the country’s top forums, had seen the cable — purportedly containing evidence of a foreign plot against the government — and concluded that it was a sensitive matter.
“The NSC took two decisions. First, they acknowledged there was interference in Pakistan’s internal matters and that a demarche must be issued,” he said, adding that the Foreign Office followed these directives.
“The second was to immediately summon the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and for the matter to be presented before elected representatives,” he said, adding that the opposition was also invited.
At this point, the opposition benches started protesting and shouting which led the minister to ask why they were “nervous”. Amid the commotion, the speaker adjourned the session till 12:30pm.
LIST OF OPPOSITION VOTERS: Meanwhile, PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb took to Twitter and posted a list of voters of the joint opposition who will vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan. According to her, the opposition has 176 voters to oust the premier.
The list includes two members of the PML-Q which is an alloy of the ruling PTI. It shows that there is a rift in the party headed by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat.