ISLAMABAD: As Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Sunday gave another date for the no-confidence resolution — saying a National Assembly session in this regard would be called after March 15 — prime minister’s adviser Dr Babar Awan appeared confident that the ruling party would not let its dissenting members cross the floor on the voting day under Article 63-A of the Constitution.

In a politically charged environment, the government is trying to put a brave face and believes that Prime Minister Khan would defeat the no-trust move against him, saying that the opposition had so far failed to present a name for the slot of the next prime minister in case the motion becomes successful.

The interior minister, speaking at an event organised by the Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Islamabad on Sunday, also backtracked from the allegation he made against the PML-Q a day earlier accusing the party of “blackmailing” the government for Punjab’s chief minister position in return for support during the no-trust move.

The minister said his remarks were “general” and not directed at any particular party.

He said the National Assembly speaker would decide after March 15 about the date of session on the no-confidence resolution against the premier. Earlier, he had said the session would be convened after March 23.

Rashid says speaker to decide date of vote after Tuesday

The opposition submitted the resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 8 and also requisitioned a National Assembly session. After the lower house 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 of procedure. 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.

The interior minister said it was up to the speaker to decide when to call the session. He said the speaker would decide after March 15 since there was an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference on March 21 and 22.

Responding to a question, the interior minister elaborated that it was the speaker’s job and power to call a National Assembly session and his decision “can’t be challenged in any court”.

“Whatever decision the speaker takes will be a legal and constitutional one,” he added.

The minister said the opposition had the complete right to make a no-trust move but cautioned that the country should not be forced towards “anarchy”.

Earlier, the interior minister warned that the army could also be deployed in the federal capital under Article 245 of the Constitution if needed during the National Assembly on the no-trust motion.

In a press conference on Saturday, the minister said: “If needed, the army could be called under Article 245, but I hope there would be no need to deploy the army as the Rangers and FC [Frontier Corps] have already been summoned for seven days [from March 23 to March 30],” he added.

Babar Awan

Meanwhile, Adviser to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan on Sunday said that the intent of Article 63-A of the Constitution was not to allow anyone to cross the floor who got the vote in the name of party leadership. “We will crush the no-confidence motion through the Constitution and the law,” he claimed.

He said that the incumbent PTI government would complete its five-year tenure and would be re-elected with the support of people for another term of five years until 2028.

Mr Awan expressed these views while addressing a three-day overseas convention, which is being organised by the party’s overseas chapter to recognise the services of expatriate Pakistanis for the country.

He thanked all overseas Pakistanis who stood by the PTI leadership in “exposing the corrupt elements hiding in foreign countries”. “You all are standing with a leader for the national interests who rejected the ‘do more’ demands and said ‘absolutely not’ on different issues,” he added.

Fawad Chaudhry

Minister for Information and Broad­casting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Sunday said the fragmented opposition wanted to overthrow the government but neither the name of the candidate for the prime minister nor for the Punjab chief minister had been given.

In a tweet, he said that the only goal of the opposition was to get rid of the corruption cases against its leaders.

He said that Imran Khan was the “only genuine leader” of Pakistan. “All the opposition parties were like house of cards which would be blown away by the D-Chowk public rally of the PM,” he added.

Shahbaz Gill

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill also said on Sunday that if any member of the PTI voted in favour of the no-trust move, he would be disqualified before casting his vote and photographs of traitors of the party would be displayed in cities. “If any PTI member wanted to support the opposition, he should resign first and then face the PTI in elections,” he added.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2022

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