Opposition submits no-confidence resolution against NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri

Published April 8, 2022
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri presides over the April 3 session. — Photo via NA Twitter/File
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri presides over the April 3 session. — Photo via NA Twitter/File

The opposition submitted a no-confidence resolution against National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri on Friday, a day before voting on a no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to take place.

The resolution, addressed to the secretary of the National Assembly Secretariat, was submitted by Murtaza Javed Abbasi of the PML-N.

According to the resolution, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the deputy speaker had "repeatedly violated the rules, parliamentary practices, democratic norms and traditions, and even Constitutional provisions and when presiding over the House, failed to conduct proceedings in an orderly manner to enable productive debate on issues of public importance".

After the opposition submitted a no-confidence resolution against Speaker Asad Qaiser on April 3, Suri had presided over the NA session. Minutes after the session began, the deputy speaker had dismissed the no-trust resolution against PM Imran terming it contradictory to Article 5 of the Constitution.

In the no-confidence resolution submitted against Suri today, Abbasi stated that instead of performing his role fairly and impartially, the deputy speaker acted in a "blatantly partisan manner" that had favoured the government and frequently deprived the opposition of their right to voice their views and the views of their electorates.

Referring to Suri's decision to dismiss the no-trust move against the prime minister, the resolution stated that the deputy speaker "wilfully and mala fidely subverted the Constitution" and his actions fell under the purview of Article 6, which is related to treason.

6-point agenda for NA session

Earlier in the day, the NA secretariat issued a six-point agenda for the session tomorrow that will begin at 10:30am.

This will be the second time that the house will convene to vote on the resolution calling for the premier's ouster. The last time the session convened was last week on April 3, but instead of the vote going ahead as scheduled, the NA deputy speaker dismissed the resolution terming it contradictory to Article 5 of the Constitution.

The contentious ruling by the deputy speaker had transpired a series of events, including the dissolution of the NA by President Arif Alvi on the premier's advice, leading to political turmoil and a constitutional crisis.

The matter was eventually decided after the Supreme Court took suo motu notice and formed a larger bench to issue a ruling.

After lengthy debates at hearings that spanned the past five days, the apex court set aside the deputy speaker's ruling and the subsequent dissolution of the NA yesterday. The SC also ordered the speaker to convene a session of the NA on Saturday no later than 10:30am, saying that the session could not be prorogued without the conclusion of the no-trust motion against the prime minister.

Besides voting on the no-trust resolution, the agenda for tomorrow also includes two calling attention notices, one of which draws the defence minister's attention to the non-payment of salaries to councilors in the country's cantonment boards and the other invites the energy minister's attention regarding the increase of petroleum prices.

The saga

The joint opposition had submitted a no-confidence motion against the premier with the NA Secretariat on March 8.

In the days to follow, the country's political landscape was abuzz with activity as parties and individuals changed alliances and the PTI and opposition were seen trading barbs and allegations alongside intensifying efforts to ensure their success in the no-confidence contest.

Eventually, major allies of the ruling PTI — Balochistan Awami Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan — deserted the government and joined the opposition ranks which led to PM Imran losing his majority in the lower house of parliament.

It was expected that if voting on the motion went ahead as scheduled on April 3, PM Imran would be ousted from office. The joint opposition, meanwhile, had nominated Shehbaz Sharif as their candidate for the top post.

But before voting could go ahead, the deputy speaker, who was chairing the session, in a shock ruling, dismissed the no-trust motion, terming it contradictory to Article 5 of the Constitution, which mandates loyalty to the state.

The deputy speaker had said the no-confidence motion was part of a foreign conspiracy to oust PM Imran, evidence of which had been seen by the National Security Committee and the federal cabinet in the form of a 'threat letter' sent to Pakistan through its ambassador in a foreign country.

According to a list shared by PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb at the time, opposition parties had managed to cross the magical figure of 172, claiming to enjoy the support of 174 NA members. The number did not include over a dozen dissidents of the ruling PTI, who had publicly declared the withdrawal of their support to the prime minister.

Irked by the dismissal of the no-trust motion, opposition parties had held their own mock session in the lower house of parliament with PML-N's Ayaz Sadiq sitting on the speaker's seat. During the mock proceedings, 195 lawmakers voted in favour of the no-confidence motion, according to PPP's Sherry Rehman.

Eventually, the day saw President Alvi dissolving the NA on the premier's advice. While the rest of the cabinet was dissolved as a result of the move, the prime minister continued to serve as the country's chief executive until the appointment of a caretaker setup.

Meanwhile, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial had taken suo motu notice of the matter to decide on the legality of the deputy speaker's ruling and the NA's dissolution.

Yesterday, the top court set aside the deputy speaker's ruling and the subsequent dissolution of the lower house, ordering that voting on the no-trust motion be held on Saturday.

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