ISLAMABAD: The much-anticipated session of the National Assembly with a crucial no-confidence resolution — filed by the opposition against Prime Minister Imran Khan — on the agenda, is set to commence at 11am today (Friday).

However, despite the fact that the resolution has been placed on the agenda for today’s sitting, it may not be tabled for discussion on the same day.

The National Assembly Secretariat on Thursday issued a 15-point ‘Orders of the Day’ for the NA session, which included the no-confidence resolution, but it is believed that normal house proceedings will not be held on the first day of the sitting due to death of MNA Khayal Zaman.

It is parliamentary convention that the first sitting after the death of an MNA is limited to prayers for the soul of the departed and tributes fellow lawmakers wish to pay them.

Insiders suggest that the NA speaker may adjourn the session until March 30 or 31. However, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn that there was no plan to adjourn the NA session.

PTI not holding parliamentary party meeting before sitting

The opposition had submitted the motion and requisition for the session to the NA Secretariat on March 8. Under the Constitution, the speaker was bound to hold the session within 14 days. However, he did not summon the session until March 21 [the 14th day], which is now set to commence from today.

Voting on the resolution will be held at least three to seven days after it has been laid before the National Assembly.

Explainer: How does a no-confidence motion work?

In a break from tradition, the ruling PTI has so far not called for meeting of its parliamentary party — a staple strategy session held before any NA sitting — but while the opposition is convening its meeting in Parliament House ahead of the sitting.

The fact that the ruling party has not called for a meeting could indicate one of two scenarios. On one hand, it could mean that the government is aware that the first day of the NA session will only last a few minutes and the session would be adjourned in deference to convention. Another possibility is that since the government’s allies and dissident PTI members are also due to hold their own, separate meetings, the ruling party fears that they would not attend its parliamentary party meeting.

High security

Meanwhile, the NA speaker on Thursday issued guidelines for MNAs in view of strict security arrangements being made for the session.

According to the speaker’s notification: “no visitor/guest/security guard of the ministers/parliamentarians will be allowed in the precincts of Parliament House and it would be advisable to restrict them up to D-Chowk, in front of Parliament Lodges.”

To avoid traffic congestion, a shuttle service will operate between Parliament Lodges, government hostels and Parliament House to facilitate members of parliament, the order said.

It said personal drivers of parliamentarians were required to park their vehicles at the designated parking area and not to leave the vehicle unattended. Security agencies deputed at the Parliament House have also been instructed to make arrangements accordingly and ensure the implementation of the speaker’s instructions.

PTI power show

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan, chairing a meeting of the PTI political committee, directed party leaders to finalise arrangements for what he called “the country’s biggest public meeting” on March 27.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the prime minister was satisfied with the first hearing by the Supreme Court of the government’s reference about no-confidence resolution and said “so far the observation of the apex court have been encouraging” for the government.

A PTI source said the prime minister was confident that he could defeat the opposition’s no-confidence resolution.

The prime minister told the meeting that he was hopeful that the apex court would define disqualification of dissident PTI members for life for voting against him. He said the PTI had already served notices on over a dozen PTI dissidents and action would be taken against them after seven days (March 27). However, it was not mentioned what action would be taken against them.

Senator Faisal Javed told the media that the prime minister would show “a triumph” card a day before the voting on the no-trust resolution.

Prime Minister Khan also invited the nation to participate in the March 27 public gathering and show their condemnation of the brazen horse-trading aimed at harming democracy in the country. “I want my entire nation to come out with me on March 27 to give a loud message that we are not supporting evil and are against it,” he said in a video message.

In the message telecast on national television and social media platforms of the PTI, the prime minister urged the nation to stand by the good to fight out the politics of corruption.

The prime minister said the “gang of dacoits”, which had been looting the country for 30 years, indulged in massive corruption and illegal transfer of money abroad. “This gang is openly buying the conscience and loyalties of the public representatives,” he said, terming it a “crime against the nation and democracy”.

He said: “All the Pakistanis must realise that no one in the future has the courage to do horse-trading and damage the democracy and the nation.”

On the other hand, the opposition criticised the prime minister for using state resources for the success of the March 27 PTI public meeting.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2022

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