NA speaker has right to disqualify MNAs who cross floor: Sheikh Rashid

Published March 10, 2022
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid talks to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid talks to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Thursday said National Assembly (NA) Speaker Asad Qaiser had the right to disqualify members who "crossed floor" in the lower house and that "no one could challenge that".

His comments come in the aftermath of the joint opposition submitting a no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday along with a formal request to requisition the NA.

The move prompted the government to come up with a strategy, which, according to Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, is that MNAs of the PTI and its allies would not be present in the NA on the day of voting on the no-trust resolution.

Senior minister and a close aide of PM Imran, Asad Umar, talking to Geo News, reiterated the same, saying that it was the opposition's job to show it had the support of 172 MNAs and therefore government lawmakers would not attend the no-confidence vote.

Talking to the media in Islamabad, the interior minister said the week from March 23 to 30 would be an "important week".

"Let them (opposition) fulfil their desire. Imran Khan is on his way towards winning. The speaker has the right to disqualify any PTI member who disrespects the votes they gained due to Imran Khan," he said.

Rashid said all political parties had given this right to the speaker in the 18th Amendment in a bid to stop horse-trading and that this right could not be challenged by anyone.

The interior minister went on to say those members who go against party line would be "politically surrounded".

The opposition has claimed in recent weeks that it had gained the support of dissidents and disgruntled PTI members for the no-confidence motion.

The interior minister said he had urged PTI supporters to be present at Islamabad's D-Chowk on the day of the vote to celebrate a "day of thanksgiving" for the prime minister's success.

Rashid said the no-confidence move would prove to be a "moment of satisfaction" for the premier. "We will celebrate April Fool's day for the opposition [after their loss]," the interior minister added.

He lashed out at the opposition, saying that fear of the prime minister and accountability had united those who were against each other in the past.

Responding to claims from the opposition that the "umpire" — a reference to the establishment — was neutral, he asked opposition leaders to stick to this narrative in case the no-trust move fails.

Speaking on other matters, he pushed back against a question on the prime minister's criticism of the European Union at a recent public gathering.

"What's so wrong if the premier presented a foreign policy stance in front of the people when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did so as well."

The interior minister said Pakistan was not part of any bloc — Russian, American or Chinese — and wanted good relations with all powers.

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