Qasim Suri changes NA schedule to delay speaker’s election

Published April 14, 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

ISLAMABAD: In an apparent move to delay the election of the National Assembly speaker and using his special powers under the rules, acting Speaker Qasim Suri has changed the schedule of the sitting of the lower house of parliament from April 16 to April 22.

“The National Assembly session, which was scheduled to be held at 4pm on April 16, will now be held at 3pm on April 22. The change in the schedule has been made by the acting speaker under Rule 49(2) of the Rules and Procedure for the Conduct of the Business in the National Assembly 2007,” said an official handout issued by the NA Secretariat on Wednesday.

Earlier in the morning, the NA Secretariat had issued the schedule for the speaker’s election according to which nomination papers were to be submitted by 12 noon on April 15.

The seat of the NA speaker fell vacant after Asad Qaiser tendered his resignation on April 9 before asking PML-N’s Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to take the charge to conduct the prime minister’s election in line with the decision of the Supreme Court.

Soon after the election and maiden speech of Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister, Mr Suri had all of a sudden returned to the house and adjourned the sitting till April 16 when Mr Sadiq had already announced the name of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to take the floor.

Rule 49(2) titled “Hours of sitting and adjournment” reads as “subject to the other provisions of these rules, the speaker may, (a) adjourn a sitting of the Assembly; and (b) if he thinks fit, call a sitting of the Assembly at a time or date different from that to which it was earlier adjourned and the change shall be intimated to the members through announcement on radio and television”.

The deputy speaker came to the action hours after Mr Sadiq and PPP’s Sherry Rehman accused him of pressurising the NA Secretariat to send the resignations of the PTI legislators to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the process.

With the boycott of the election of the prime minister by the PTI — now in opposition — it is yet to be seen if there will be any candidate from its side.

However, the names of Syed Khursheed Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar and Shazia Marri from Sindh and Raja Pervez Ashraf from Punjab are doing the rounds in PPP circle, with former premier Ashraf leading the race.

Inside sources told Dawn that in view of a tie among the candidates from Sindh, the PPP — which has been given the coveted slot by the nine-party alliance — would offer the position to its Punjab president [Mr Ashraf]. “This also paves the way for nominating a party leader from Sindh for the apex seat of the president,” the source said.

Following the removal of the PTI government, the election of the prime minister was to be held after election of the speaker.

Article 53 (1) states: “After the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, the National Assembly shall, to the exclusion of any other business, proceed to elect without debate one of its Muslim members to be the Prime Minister.”

Although former speaker Asad Qaiser had tendered his resignation before the election of the prime minister, the latter’s election under Article 91 (3) was given priority over the speaker’s election in compliance with the Supreme Court verdict.

It may be recalled that the opposition had already submitted a no-confidence resolution against Mr Suri, who is currently the acting speaker, and it is expected that he will tender his resignation before the axe falls on him.

Article 53, clause (7) sub clause (c) states: “He [Speaker/Deputy Speaker] is removed from office by a resolution of the Assembly, of which not less than seven days’ notice has been given and which is passed by the votes of the majority of the total membership of the Assembly.”

Once the assembly elects its speaker the focus will move on to the election of deputy speaker for which Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s Shahida Akhtar Ali and Balochistan National Party’s Agha Hassan Baloch are said to be front runners.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

No end to hostility
Updated 17 Aug, 2022

No end to hostility

It is time for all parties to rise above petty tactics and hostilities for political gains and pull country back from brink.
Deadly accidents
17 Aug, 2022

Deadly accidents

TWO horrific accidents on Tuesday, which resulted in high death tolls, illustrate the dangers people face while ...
New banknote
17 Aug, 2022

New banknote

PAKISTAN has a new currency note to mark the diamond jubilee of independence. The 75-rupee banknote, issued by the...
Shared goals
Updated 16 Aug, 2022

Shared goals

It is high time that all parties realise that negotiation on the economy does not need to be held hostage to political rivalries.
Making amends?
16 Aug, 2022

Making amends?

WHERE relations with the US are concerned, there has been a distinct shift in Imran Khan’s tone. While the PTI...
Hazardous celebration
16 Aug, 2022

Hazardous celebration

CAN celebratory actions that often result in death or lifelong injuries really be described as such? Be it Eid, New...