A delegation of senior opposition lawmakers submitted the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan with the National Assembly Secretariat on Tuesday, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said.
The confirmation from her came after a delegation of opposition lawmakers, including Rana Sanaullah, Ayaz Sadiq, Shazia Marri and Marriyum Aurangzeb, had reached Parliament House in Islamabad.
Aurangzeb said National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser was not present in his office which is why the documents were submitted with the secretariat.
The opposition has submitted two sets of documents, one under Article 54 of the Constitution to requisition the National Assembly because it is not in session currently, and the other a resolution calling for a no-confidence vote against the prime minister.
According to Article 54, a session of the National Assembly can be requisitioned if at least 25 per cent of the members sign it, following which the speaker has a maximum of 14 days to summon a session.
PPP lawmaker Naveed Qamar told Dawn.com that the requisition had the signatures of 140 MNAs.
Meanwhile, Article 95 of the Constitution and rules of procedure of the house mandate that a no-confidence resolution against the premier must have signatures of at least 20 per cent of the members of the National Assembly, which means at least 68 members, for it to be voted on.
After the National Assembly is in session, the rules of procedure dictate that the secretary will circulate a notice for a no-confidence resolution, which will be moved on the next working day.
From the day the resolution is moved, it "shall not be voted upon before the expiry of three days, or later than seven days," according to the rules.
Therefore, the speaker must call the lower house in session by March 22, while voting on the no-confidence motion must take place between three and seven days after the session is summoned.
In order to make the no-confidence motion against the prime minister successful, the joint opposition requires a simple majority, which means it needs the support of 172 MNAs from a total of 342.
Last year in March, the premier had voluntarily sought a trust vote following an upset in Senate elections. In a show of strength, he had secured 178 votes – six more than required – to win the vote of confidence from the National Assembly.
'Govt will become stronger'
PM Imran, speaking to reporters at the PM House, asserted that his government would not be ousted and would become stronger.
He said he was glad that this would be the opposition's last attempt to oust him. "We will defeat them in such a manner that they will not be able to recover until 2028," he said.
Speaking about estranged PTI leader Jahangir Tareen, the prime minister said: "I know that he will never join these robbers."
The premier claimed that there were "multiple foreign hands" behind the opposition. He further said that he had completed his preparation, adding that a "captain doesn't reveal his strategy all at once".
The premier said Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was an "easy target", adding that he was only disliked by chief minister hopefuls.
He alleged that lawmakers were offered bribes of Rs180 million. "And I told them [lawmakers] to take the money from them [the opposition] and distribute it among the poor," the prime minister added.
The prime minister said those who did not want an independent foreign policy were supporting the opposition. He added that former prime minister and PPP leader Yousuf Raza Gilani's sons had offered money to lawmakers but nobody took any action — in an apparent reference to a video showing Ali Haider Gilani explaining to lawmakers how to cancel their votes.
"The hue and cry is not without reason. It's all about money."
The prime minister reiterated that the Pakistan Army was with Pakistan and would never support "these thieves". "The opposition does not have the support of the people so they say that the establishment is with us."
The premier further remarked, "What will happen if the no-trust move does not succeed? A mind game is being played at present, and I am the master of mind games."
'PTI parliamentarians stand with the party'
The NA speaker, who later arrived at Parliament House, was hounded by the press as he made his way inside and asked about his response to the draft submitted by the opposition. But he appeared unperturbed by the opposition's actions.
"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.
Reporters also grilled the NA speaker about how he would "manage" calling the session of the lower house of parliament, especially since a session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is also scheduled for 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.
Asked whether the PTI's lawmakers were united, he said: "PTI parliamentarians stand with the party. Differences develop sometimes [...] It is good that it (no-trust move) happened so that doodh ka doodh, pani ka pani ho jaye (matters become clear)."
Qaiser also said that the PTI was in contact with its ally, the PML-Q, adding that they would consult with the party. "Our allies are with the government."
However, the NA speaker remained tightlipped on a possible change in the government in Punjab or the group of dissidents led by disgruntled leader Jahangir Tareen.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, meanwhile, simply said Pakistan only had one leader, Imran Khan, adding that the opposition would be defeated despite its joint efforts.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill welcomed the no-confidence motion. He also relayed a message to the nation from the premier, quoting him as saying that he would fight against this "buying and selling".
"Imran Khan will not give an NRO to these thieves under any circumstances. Imran Khan is ready for the challenge," he said, adding that he would deal a fatal blow to the opposition. "The whole nation stands with (Imran) Khan."
Opposition on a mission
Maulana Fazl had announced the alliance's decision to move a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan on February 11, saying that the PDM would reach out to the PTI's allies.
Fazl had said at the time that the opposition alliance had not yet decided whether they would bring the no-confidence motion against National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser as well, adding that consultations within the opposition parties as well as with the legal team were underway.
Since then, Lahore has been abuzz with many political meetings — between opposition parties as well as the PTI and its allies.
Last week, Maulana Fazl had claimed that the coming days were crucial as the opposition parties would take a final decision regarding submitting a vote of no-confidence motion against the government or requisitioning the session of parliament.
Claiming that opposition parties have the numbers required for the success of the no-confidence motion, he had said they had been trying to get the support of more than 180 members in the 342-member lower house of parliament.
While the opposition charged ahead with its plan to oust the government, the PTI faced a huge setback on Monday as cracks started appearing within the party.
Aleem Khan — a close aide of PM Imran — announced he would be joining hands with disgruntled party leader Jahangir Tareen, prompting the panic-stricken PM to dispatch Sindh Governor Imran Ismail to Lahore to pacify the former Punjab minister.
Presiding over the PTI’s Core Committee meeting, the premier decided to appease all disgruntled leaders of his party as Aleem Khan re-emerged after lying low for a while, with the support of over three dozen Punjab MPAs, including 10 ministers, and joined hands with Tareen.
For the first time in the PTI’s three-and-a-half-year rule, the former Punjab senior minister assailed the Imran Khan government in the Centre and the Usman Buzdar-led Punjab government for “completely failing to fulfil its mandate and bring about the promised change”.
He also lamented the fact "diehard workers" were pushed aside once the PTI came into power, stating that many were still wondering why party loyalists, including Tareen, were pushed away.