Resolution against president a non-starter in ‘friendly’ NA

Published May 11, 2022
Federal Minister Ayaz Sadiq speaks during the National Assembly session on Tuesday. — Photo via NA Twitter
Federal Minister Ayaz Sadiq speaks during the National Assembly session on Tuesday. — Photo via NA Twitter

ISLAMABAD: Despite the absence of a full opposition bench, the government on Tuesday failed to move a planned resolution in the National Assembly to “condemn” President Dr Arif Alvi for allegedly violating the Constitution by delaying and then rejecting the prime minister’s advice regarding the removal of the Punjab governor.

However, a small opposition group managed to disrupt proceedings of the house by pointing out lack of quorum, forcing the chair to abruptly adjourn the sitting until Wednesday.

The quorum problem was pointed out by Ghous Bux Mahar of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) when two federal ministers belonging to the ruling PML-N Ayaz Sadiq and Javed Latif had already delivered speeches after Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf allowed a debate on the president’s conduct.

Mr Mahar pointed out the lack of quorum to register his protest over the speaker’s act of allowing the debate while setting aside a 185-point heavy agenda for the private members’ day.

Quorum hits proceedings on private members’ day

The house was being run by Deputy Speaker Zahid Durrani when the GDA member pointed out lack of quorum, for which presence of 86 MNAs (one-fourth of the total 342 members), is required.

On Monday, the National Assembly had passed a similar resolution against PTI chairman Imran Khan for allegedly maligning the country’s armed forces.

The call for holding a debate on the president’s conduct and presenting the resolution against him came from former NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

Speaking on a point of order, Mr Sadiq drew the attention of the house towards the removal of Punjab governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday night after rejection of his summary by the president and “condemned” Dr Alvi for allegedly violating Article 48 of the Constitution which made it binding on him to accept the prime minister’s advices.

Mr Sadiq regretted that the president was preferring his personal and political affiliations over the Constitution. He alleged that the president had also violated his oath according to which he was not allowed personal interests and influence while performing his constitutional duties.

He recalled that the same president had accepted the resignation of former governor Chaudhry Sarwar and appointed the new governor within minutes on the advice of the then prime minister, Imran Khan. He advised the president to “gracefully” leave the office, if he could not respect the Constitution, warning that otherwise it would become difficult for him to address the joint sitting of the parliament which was due in August.

Mr Latif in his speech mostly targeted PTI chairman Imran Khan and asked state institutions, parliamentarians and Ulema of all schools of thought to sit together and decide about the fate of Imran Khan who had been “exploiting the religion for political gains”.

Mr Latif, who is known as a party hardliner and a close associate of PML-N’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, said when a uniformed man could face Article 6 for abrogation of the Constitution then why a civilian could not be tried under the same article.

Taking Mr Khan to task for attacking the state institutions, he said that had such speeches been delivered by him or Mohsin Dawar they would have been declared “traitors” and thrown behind the bars.

“Who is giving such a space to this Ladla (favourite)?” he asked.

Responding to the PTI’s demand to form a judicial commission to probe allegations of the US conspiracy behind the regime change in the country, the minister said the commission should also be tasked with probing the conspiracy of the 2014 sit-in and the ouster of the then PM Nawaz Sharif in 2017.

Opposition leader

Another former speaker and a GDA member Fehmida Mirza, while speaking on a point of order, declared that the house was incomplete without the nomination of the opposition leader.

“If you want to provide legitimacy to the house, then immediately appoint the opposition leader,” said Dr Mirza, whose party was sitting on the opposition benches with four MNAs. She also lashed out at the government over prolonged loadshedding, water shortage in Sindh and price hike in the country.

Besides the GDA, some 22 dissidents of the PTI were also sitting on the opposition benches. There are reports that besides PTI dissidents Noor Alam Khan and Raja Riaz, the GDA is also willing to get the post of the opposition leader since the PTI, which is now the largest party in the opposition, is unwilling to return to the house after submitting en masse resignations.

MQM’s threat

Earlier, Kishwar Zehra of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement also threatened to boycott proceedings of the house over allocation of seats to the party members at the back corner of the assembly hall. She disclosed that the MQM members had boycotted proceedings of the house on Monday and they would again not come to the house on Wednesday, if their seats were not changed.

PTI’s Noor Alam Khan introduced a bill to amend the Elections Act 2107, seeking deletion of a provision introduced by the previous government that conditionally allowed dual nationals to contest elections.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2022

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