• Treasury members warned of being de-seated if voted against PM
• Imran meets leaders of allies separately, asks MNAs to stay in a tent in PMH
ISLAMABAD: Of the 179 members of the National Assembly (MNAs) belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led ruling coalition, 175 on Friday gave assurance to Prime Minister Imran Khan that they will give him vote of confidence during a special session of the lower house of parliament on Saturday (today).
Prime Minister Khan chaired a meeting of parliamentary parties at the Prime Minister House (PMH) in which all MNAs of the ruling alliance were asked to vote for the prime minister otherwise they can be de-seated.
The legislators have been directed to reach the parliament house well before 12:15pm when the National Assembly session will start for voting through division of members of treasury and opposition benches and not by show of hands.
According to National Assembly Secretariat, the NA session is being held today on the one-point agenda of the PM’s vote of confidence, and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will table a resolution in the House on which voting will be held.
The resolution says: “That this House reposes confidence in the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mr Imran Khan, as required under clause (7) of Article 91 of the Constitution Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”
According to a cabinet member, 175 MNAs of the ruling coalition attended the parliamentary party meeting at PMH after a lunch given by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar at Punjab House to PTI women legislators. Later, a dinner was also given to the MNAs by Foreign Minister Qureshi.
After resignation of Faisal Vawda and re-elections on a seat NA 175 in Daska, the government has 179 seats in the NA and the PM has to get at least 172 votes to prove confidence of the 341-member House.
Those who could not attend the meeting were: Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, Amir Liaquat Hussain, Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, Basit Sultan and Monis Elahi.
Another PTI leader said all those who were absent would attend the NA session today (Saturday). He said Mr Zaidi was stuck up in Lahore and Amir Liaquat who was in Karachi assured that he would be present in the House on Saturday.
During the meeting, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak gave a briefing on the relevant rules and articles of the Constitution and warned those who would give votes against the prime minister that they would be de-seated.
The minister asked all MNAs of the ruling alliance to reach the National Assembly before time as the gates of the hall would be closed at 12:15pm and no one would be allowed to enter the assembly hall after it.
Mr Qureshi said the government should move forward instead of sticking to the issue of 16 ruling alliance MNAs who had voted for Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani instead of Hafeez Shaikh in the recent Senate polls.
The PM also held separate meetings with leaders of the ruling coalition partners.
During the meeting, all allied parties Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) pledged their support to him.
On a lighter note, the prime minister said he could not take all MNAs of the ruling coalition to Chhanga Manga (in reference to PML-N move in the past) but he could take them to the hilly resort of Murree.
The PTI-led ruling alliance members were asked not to leave the federal capital until the prime minister seeks a fresh vote of confidence. PM Khan said he wanted to keep MNAs in a tent in PMH from where he would take them to the National Assembly today (Saturday).
The PDM has decided not to attend the NA session on Saturday during the PM’s vote of confidence to make the whole process what Maulana Fazlur Rehman said “meaningless”.
Earlier, the issue of summoning of the session stirred up a controversy as the opposition believed the prime minister could not initiate a summary for it. It was a sole prerogative of the president under the Constitution, they believed. Article 91 (7) of the Constitution says: “The Prime Minister shall hold office during the pleasure of the President, but the President shall not exercise his powers under this clause unless he is satisfied that the Prime Minister does not command the confidence of the majority of the members of the National Assembly, in which case he shall summon the National Assembly and require the Prime Minister to obtain a vote of confidence from the Assembly.”
After PM Khan’s decision to seek vote of confidence, President Arif Alvi summoned a session of the National Assembly on Saturday.
During the meeting with parliamentary parties, Prime Minister Khan said he was not afraid of the consequences. He said those MNAs who had any objection should come forward and express their opposition to him.
The prime minister said he hoped that all MNAs of the ruling alliance would vote for him, as all MNAs present in the meeting had assured him of their support. He said the country was in a bad condition due to faulty policies of predecessors and their corruption when he came into power. “But today we have provided some relief to the people and put the country on right track,” he added.
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2021