Bilawal seeks CJP, CEC intervention over no-trust vote

Published March 14, 2022
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Terming the government’s decision to prevent its members from participating in the National Assembly sitting during the vote on the no-confidence resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan a violation of Article 6 of the constitution, the opposition has asked the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) and the chief election commissioner (CEC) to intervene and ensure the protection of lawmakers’ right to vote.

“I will appeal to the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the CEC. You must have heard the statements of the prime minister. You must have seen the government’s tactics. I appeal to you that every member should be allowed to use his right to vote and no one should be allowed to stop them,” said Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari during a news conference here on Sunday.

“This is a democratic process. Do not influence it by the use of force. This comes within the purview of Article 6,” said the PPP chairman while referring to the constitutional provision, which states that “any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason”.

“Article 6 of our constitution is very clear and applies to every person who wishes to meddle with a constitutional process. When everyone can see that this man [prime minister] is trying to commit ‘rigging’ and his representatives are announcing that the votes of the members will not be counted and police are forcibly barging into Parliament Lodges to arrest honourable members, what message is being sent out?” asked Mr Bhutto-Zardari.

Addressing the chief justices of the Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court, he said if they could not protect the voting rights of the members of parliament then how could they protect the rights of an ordinary citizen.

PDM chief asks ‘bureaucracy and establishment’ not to obey PM; Shehbaz says it’s time for Imran to go home

The PPP chairman’s remarks came against the backdrop of government ministers’ statements that the ruling party members would not attend the sitting on the fateful day when the National Assembly would be voting on the no-confidence resolution.

Earlier this week, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan told Dawn that the government had decided that no member of the government would attend the NA session when voting will be held on the no-confidence motion.

Violation of Constitution

PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a statement that violation of the Constitution was an offence under Article 6. She was of the view that false and baseless cases, intimidation and obstruction of access to parliament also fell into the category of violation of the Constitution.

In another development, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) president Maulana Fazlur Rehman asked the country’s “bureaucracy and establishment” not to obey the prime minister since he had lost the majority of the National Assembly members. He gave a call to his party workers to wait for a final directive to march on the capital.

Flanked by senior party leaders, the PPP chairman said that it was a result of his party workers’ three-year-long struggle that today all the country’s democratic forces were using democratic means to challenge this “undemocratic person”.

“This is our right and a parliamentary tool. Just like it is the common man’s right to go to the voting booth and cast their vote, it is a parliamentarian’s right to vote in the no-confidence,” he declared.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said Imran Khan was using abusive language because he was panicking and could clearly see his defeat. “Imran is an undemocratic man and does not believe in democracy, law or justice. He believes in a fixed match and only knows how to rig the elections. The prime minister is not trying to win the no-confidence but wants to do rigging. We will not let this defeated man rig anything. The people of the country will not let him rig anything,” he said.

The PPP chairman said no one should be stopped from casting vote, whether they belonged to the opposition or the treasury benches. “There is an ongoing conspiracy to deprive the members of parliament of their right. We will not tolerate this. We appeal to every single democratic individual who has sworn an oath to protect the Constitution of Pakistan to ensure that the constitutional process is followed,” he said, adding: “We cannot run this country on the rule of the jungle. There has to be a law of the land.”

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said this no-confidence was not only against Imran Khan but also against the prevailing economic crisis and “the polarised anarchy we are headed towards as a society, caused by Imran Khan”.

Responding to a question, he said they wanted to head towards free and fair elections after the no-confidence as they wanted to create an environment in which the representatives of the people sat together and transparent elections were held so that a government that had the mandate of the people was formed.

The PPP chairman also requested the Election Commission of Pakistan to announce its decision in the foreign funding case against the ruling PTI. He asked the media not to give attention to the statements coming from a desperate man, adding that “no prime minister in the history of Pakistan has ever been so desperate, who feels compelled to abuse everyone”.

“We would like to ask the PM who he termed ‘animal’ in his speech. The prime minister’s desperate efforts will not be successful,” he declared.

In response to a question, he claimed that their meetings with the “former allies” of the government had exceeded expectations. “We believe in democracy and are confident as well as happy to see that our opponent is so worried. We are preparing for a win,” he said.

The PPP chairman said they had had issues with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) but both the political parties were of the view that “we have a better chance of improving people’s lives if we work together”. “We do not need to agree on every issue but there is scope for common ground to be reached,” he added.

Earlier, speaking at a news conference, PPP leaders Sherry Rehman, Syed Naveed Qamar and Faisal Karim Kundi took the speaker to task over his “biased conduct”, stating that they did not have trust in him anymore.

When asked if the PPP would approach the Supreme Court for the interpretation of Article 163-A of the Constitution regarding disqualification of a member on floor-crossing, Ms Rehman said the PPP always believed that the matters of parliament should be settled in parliament.

‘It’s time for Imran to go home’

PML-N president and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said in a statement that it was time for Imran Khan to go home. He lashed out at the government’s economic and foreign policies.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters in his hometown Dera Ismail Khan, PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman asked PM Khan to complete his 172 people (lawmakers) in parliament, instead of gathering one million people in Islamabad. Maulana Fazl, who is also chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, said the bubble of the government had burst and now the establishment was not bound to obey the orders of Imran Khan’s government.

Meanwhile, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif presided over a meeting of the party’s parliamentary group on Sunday night.

According to Marriyum Aurangzeb, the meeting was attended by all the 84 MNAs of the party. The party members, she said, had authorised Mr Sharif to make decisions regarding the no-confidence resolution. Mr Sharif will host a meeting of the joint opposition on Monday (today).

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani in a statement questioned the speaker’s silence on the arrest of MNAs and police raid on Parliament Lodges. He said it was the responsibility of the speaker to ensure that every member had unhindered access to the house to perform his parliamentary duties, including casting of a vote, being one of the most scared. He said the speaker must clarify his position to all the members and people of Pakistan.

Muhammad Irfan Mughal in Dera Ismail Khan also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2022

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