ISLAMABAD: PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif submits his nomination papers for the post of prime minister to the National Assembly secretary at the Parliament House on Sunday. — White Star
ISLAMABAD: PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif submits his nomination papers for the post of prime minister to the National Assembly secretary at the Parliament House on Sunday. — White Star

• PML-N president, PTI’s Qureshi file nomination papers • 52 cabinet members de-notified

ISLAMABAD: As the National Assembly convenes today (on Monday) to elect prime minister after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday filed their nomination papers, the PTI seems divided over its erstwhile decision of en masse resignations by its lawmakers.

While the cabinet division de-notified 52 members of the federal cabinet — 25 federal ministers, four ministers of state, four advisers to the PM and 19 special assistants to the PM — after the historic vote of no-confidence by the joint opposition against ex-premier Imran Khan, Mr Sharif having bright chances to make it to the top slot said the new cabinet would be formed only after consultation with all allies.

As the PTI core committee remained indecisive in a meeting chaired by Mr Khan on Sunday whether to go for en masse resignations of MNAs or not, the party chairman called the parliamentary party meeting at the Parliament House at 12 noon on Monday to make a final decision. Whether Mr Qureshi will contest the election for the premiership or will resign along with other MNAs of the PTI and its allies depends on the outcome of the PTI parliamentary meeting.

However, the PTI decided to give a tough time to the upcoming government through street protests if the PML-N won the contest in the parliament for which voting would begin at 2pm.

Editorial: To fuel his political narrative, Imran Khan has done grievous damage to Pakistan’s diplomacy and diplomats

On the other hand, Mr Sharif met the leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and discussed the political situation. While all the parties kept their cards close to chest about the composition of the new cabinet, sources said PPP leader Naveed Qamar was the strongest candidate for the slot of National Assembly speaker, PML-N leaders Marriyum Aurangzeb and Rana Sanaullah could get the portfolios of information and interior ministries, respectively.

Nomination papers accepted

Earlier in the day, the PML-N and PTI came face to face once again when Mr Sharif and Mr Qureshi reached the Parliament House in separate groups comprising senior leaders of the two parties and submitted their nomination papers to the National Assembly secretary.

On the occasion, Mr Qureshi and Babar Awan became involved in an altercation with PML-N leaders Zahid Hamid and Atta Tarar.

The senior PTI leaders submitted objections against Mr Sharif stating that the latter was contesting election on the day of his expected indictment in a money laundering case. They were of the opinion that he did not deserve to be the new PM due to his “involvement” in corruption cases.

Responding to these allegations, Mr Tarar said since Mr Sharif had not been convicted in any case, his nomination could not be rejected merely on the basis of allegations. Mr Hamid reminded the PTI leaders that nomination could be rejected only on the grounds mentioned in the Constitution and Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly-2007 under which the candidate for the office of PM must be a Muslim, an MNA and signature of the candidate and his proposer and seconder must be genuine.

On this, the NA secretary accepted the nomination paper of both Mr Sharif and Mr Qureshi.

ISLAMABAD: A supporter of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf being detained outside the Parliament House during the protest against the dismissal of Imran Khan as prime minister in the early hours of Sunday morning.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star
ISLAMABAD: A supporter of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf being detained outside the Parliament House during the protest against the dismissal of Imran Khan as prime minister in the early hours of Sunday morning.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

The NA Secretariat later issued the agenda of the NA session under which the election of the prime minister will be held at 2pm. “Election of the Prime Minister as required by Article 91 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, read with rule 32 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007,” stated the order of the day.

PTI divided on resignations

Meanwhile, an insider told Dawn that PTI leaders were divided on the issue of registrations as some of them believed all MNAs of the party and allies should resign immediately to bring the upcoming government in a tough situation, while others were of the opinion that the PTI and its allies should take opposition benches to resist any attempt to change elections laws, particularly regarding the use of electronic voting machines and voting rights to overseas Pakistanis, for the next general elections.

However, disgruntled PTI leader Raja Riaz said that 22 dissidents would not resign if the PTI opted for that. It is believed if they voted against Mr Qureshi, they could be disqualified under Article 63 of the Constitution.

A senior PPP leader told Dawn that PTI dissidents were minutely monitoring the situation and consulting legal opinion about whatever decision they would take. He, however, there was difference between abstaining from vote and absent on the day of vote. There were precedents that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had forgiven dissidents MNA who did not attend the voting session in the past, he said, citing the example of PTI’s former MNA Ayesha Gulalai.

Shehbaz meets PPP, JUI-F leaders

In later developments, Mr Sharif called on former president Asif Ali Zardari and chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and discussed the changing political scenario.

The PML-N president then also called on Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and expressed gratitude for extending his support.

During his visit to Zardari House, Mr Sharif thanked ex-president Zardari and the PPP chairman for their efforts to ensure the success of the no-confidence motion. They pledged to work together on all issues of public interest.

Talking to the media, Mr Sharif desired for peace in the region and peaceful relations with neighbouring India.

Asked if the cases of his elder brother and self-exiled former prime minister Nawaz Sahrif would be withdrawn, he said his [Nawaz] cases would be dealt according to the law.

Mr Sharif was accompanied by Saad Rafique, Ayaz Sadiq and Ms Aurangzeb, while PPP leaders Faisal Karim Kundi and Shazia Atta Marri were also present on the occasion.

Earlier, speaking on the floor of the House after the passage of vote of no-confidence against Mr Khan, the PPP chairman said: “Democracy is the best revenge.”

April 10 had its own significance, he said, explaining that on that date, Constitution was formed in 1973, former premier and PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto had returned in 1987 to challenge Gen Zia’s dictatorship and in 2022 the person who was declared ‘selected’ by the opposition and who proved himself to be an ‘undemocratic burden’ on the country saw the end of his rule under a constitutional process.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2022

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