The National Assembly will elect a new leader of the house on Monday (today) in its session due to start at 2 pm.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi are the candidates for the coveted office. They filed nomination papers on Sunday.
The cabinet division de-notified 52 members of the federal cabinet — 25 ministers, four ministers of state, four advisers to the PM and 19 special assistants to the PM — after the historic vote of no-confidence by the joint opposition against Imran Khan.
As the PTI core committee remained indecisive in a meeting chaired by former prime minister Imran on Sunday whether to go for en masse resignations of MNAs or not, the party chairman called the parliamentary party meeting at the Parliament House at 12 noon on Monday to make a final decision. Whether Qureshi will contest the election for the premiership or will resign along with other MNAs of the PTI and its allies depends on the outcome of the PTI parliamentary meeting.
However, the PTI decided to give a tough time to the upcoming government through street protests if the PML-N won the contest in the parliament.
On the other hand, Shehbaz met the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) and discussed the political situation. While all the parties kept their cards close to chest about the composition of the new cabinet, insiders said PPP leader Naveed Qamar was the strongest candidate for the slot of National Assembly speaker, PML-N leaders Marriyum Aurangzeb and Rana Sanaullah could get the portfolios of information and interior ministries, respectively.
NOMINATION PAPERS ACCEPTED: The PML-N and the PTI came face to face once again when Shehbaz Sharif and Shah Mahmood Qureshi reached the Parliament House in separate groups comprising senior leaders of the two parties and submitted their nomination papers to the National Assembly secretary on Sunday.
On the occasion, Qureshi and Babar Awan became involved in an altercation with PML-N leaders Zahid Hamid and Atta Tarar.
The senior PTI leaders objected to Shehbaz candidature stating that the he was contesting election on the day of his expected indictment in a money laundering case. They were of the opinion that he did not deserve to be the prime minister due to his “involvement” in corruption cases.
Responding to these allegations, Tarar said since Shehbaz had not been convicted in any case, his nomination could not be rejected merely on the basis of allegations. Hamid reminded the PTI leaders that nomination could be rejected only on the grounds mentioned in the Constitution and Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly-2007 under which the candidate for the office of PM must be a Muslim, an MNA and signature of the candidate and his proposer and seconder must be genuine.
The secretary accepted the nomination paper of both the candidates.
The Secretariat later issued the agenda of the NA session under which the election of the prime minister will be held at 2pm. “Election of the Prime Minister as required by Article 91 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, read with rule 32 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007,” stated the order of the day.
EN MASSE RESIGNATIONS: Meanwhile, an insider revealed that the PTI leaders were divided on the issue of registrations as some of them believed all MNAs of the party and allies should resign immediately to bring the upcoming government in a tough situation, while others were of the opinion that the PTI and its allies should take opposition benches to resist any attempt to change election laws, particularly regarding the use of electronic voting machines and voting rights to overseas Pakistanis, for the next general elections.
However, disgruntled PTI leader Raja Riaz said that 22 dissidents would not resign if the PTI opted to do so. It is believed if they voted against Qureshi, they could be disqualified under Article 63 of the Constitution.
A senior PPP leader said that PTI dissidents were minutely monitoring the situation and consulting law experts about whatever decision they would take. He, however, said there was difference between abstaining from vote and absent on the day of vote. There were precedents that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had forgiven dissidents MNA who did not attend the voting session in the past, he said, citing the example of PTI’s former MNA Ayesha Gulalai.
SHEHBAZ MEETS ALLIES: In later developments, Shehbaz called on former president Asif Ali Zardari and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and discussed the political scenario.
Then he called on Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazal) chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and expressed gratitude for extending his support.
During his visit to Zardari House, Shehbaz thanked ex-president Zardari and the PPP chairman for their efforts to ensure the success of the no-confidence motion. They pledged to work together on all issues of public interest.
Talking to the media, Shehbaz desired for peace in the region and peaceful relations with neighbouring India.
Asked if the cases of his elder brother and self-exiled former prime minister Nawaz Sahrif would be withdrawn, he said his [Nawaz] cases would be dealt according to the law.
He was accompanied by Saad Rafique, Ayaz Sadiq and Marriyum Aurangzeb, while PPP leaders Faisal Karim Kundi and Shazia Atta Marri were also present on the occasion.