PESHAWAR, Oct 1: The opposition in the NWFP assembly, comprising legislators who support President Pervez Musharraf, submitted on Monday a no-confidence resolution against Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani and also filed a writ petition in the Peshawar High Court.
The resolution was submitted in the assembly secretariat, Speaker Bakht Jehan Khan confirmed.
The petitioners, Leader of the Opposition Shahzada Gustasap, parliamentary leader of PPP (S) Syed Murid Kazim and MPAs Nighat Orakzai and Saeed Khan, requested the court to restrain the chief minister from advising the governor to dissolve the assembly. They also requested the court to restrain the governor from dissolving the assembly if the chief minister advised to do so.
Mr Gustasap said the no-trust motion was aimed at pre-empting the MMA government’s move to dissolve the assembly to stop opposition lawmakers from taking part in the presidential election. He said the assembly could not be dissolved now.
Under Article 112 of the Constitution, an advice given to the governor by the chief minister will not be binding if a notice of a no-confidence resolution is submitted in the assembly against the chief minister.
Thirty-one lawmakers belonging to the PML (Q), PPP (Sherpao), two dissident members of the MMA, Ikramullah Shahid and Ghaliba Khurshid, and independents have signed the resolution, officials in the assembly secretariat said.
“Since the lawmakers have not filed a requisition along with the resolution, under the Constitution I cannot summon the assembly session,” Mr Bakht Jehan said.
Officials said a notice of the resolution had been sent to the provincial government and circulated among lawmakers. They said the government would now forward a summary to the governor who might call the session.
“Under the Constitution, the governor may summon the assembly session, but there is no time bar,” an official of the secretariat said.
The People’s Party Parliamentarians has distanced itself from the move and termed it a political gimmick by Gen Musharraf and the MMA.
PPP parliamentary leader Abdul Akbar Khan said his party was neither with the opposition side nor with the treasury.
Abdul Akbar, a former speaker of the NWFP assembly, said that technically the opposition’s resolution was not maintainable and the speaker should return it. According to him, the opposition could not submit a resolution against the chief minister unless the assembly was requisitioned.
In the high court, lawyers observing a ‘black day’ against the beating up of lawyers and journalists by law-enforcement agencies, raised slogans against the petitioners. The petitioners left the court amid slogans of “go Musharraf go”.
A general body meeting of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association suspended the membership of the petitioners’ counsel, Mian Muhibullah Kakakhel, and barred him from entering the court premises for a week. The lawyers said if the counsel turned up to plead the petition, he would be stopped by force.
Mr Kakakhel told Dawn that he had always followed the cause of the lawyers’ community and would abide by their decisions. He added that he would stand by his colleagues and friends and would never betray them.
Respondents in the petition are the provincial government through the chief secretary, chief minister, governor and the assembly secretary.
The petitioners have also requested the court that till the disposal of the petition, status quo should be maintained and the assembly should not be dissolved. “Under Article 112 of the Constitution, the chief minister could advise the governor to dissolve the assembly, but the advice should be based on sound constitutional grounds and judicial pronouncements of the superior courts,” they said.